Step 1 - Finding The CAUSE
Our FIRST pillar is quite possibly the most important and yet most commonly overlooked - find the CAUSE of your cancer! If you look on the CDC or WHO websites, you will find lists for many common causes of cancer. From bacterial to toxic exposure, there is a myriad of possibilities.
- Is this important to know? YES
- How do we find out? TEST for it!
- What do we then do? Develop a strategy to pull-out/kill the CAUSE
Below is a very partial compilation of Biotoxins and other cancer-causing poisons.
WHO IS TOXIC? AM I TOXIC?
This is a classic question that is often asked by many people; "Am I toxic in metals and other chemicals?" These metals and chemicals collectively are often referred to as xenobiotics (Gk. Xeno = foreign; biotics = bodies). We will examine a number of ways that this question can be answered below, but first let's get a basic understanding of how it is possible to measure these xenobiotics in the body.
MEASURING XENOBIOTICS IN THE BODY
There are a variety of complex and sophisticated measuring instruments called spectrometers such as ICP-MS, ICP-OES, AF and GC-MS that can be used to measure the levels of xenobiotics in blood, urine, feces, hair, sweat and other body tissues. We do a number of different tests to determine two things:
1. Is your body (your immune system) firing a response against a toxin in your tissue (it would then be called an antigen).
2. What is the health of your detoxification pathways (we do this by assessing the chemical byproducts of the liver detox pathways).
First, let's begin with a blanket statement that is important to understand:
WE ARE ALL TOXIC AND THERE IS NO WAY OF DETERMINING THE TOTAL TOXIC LOAD IN A LIVING HUMAN!
I mentioned LIVING HUMAN here, as it is possible to determine the total load of xenobiotics in a dead human - you would simply incinerate the person and measure the total load of xenobiotics in the ashes! This is a little impractical to perform when the person is still alive!
Flippancy aside, this is important to understand as often people BELIEVE that IT IS POSSIBLE to measure the total load of the body in absolute figures. They also believe that they can get absolute figures when measuring the effectiveness of a chelating agent - for example, they take a chelating agent for 3 months and take a pre-urine sample before beginning treatment and this measures 10ppm mercury. After the three months they take a post-urine sample and this measures 5ppm.
So they conclude that their TOTAL MERCURY loads have reduced by 50%. Nonsense! This is false logic as they were not measuring the TOTAL load of the body in the first place, only what was present in the urine and therefore circulating around the blood at THAT MOMENT IN TIME. The post-urine sample is again another SNAPSHOT of the levels that were present at the moment the sample was collected. These figures cannot be interpreted as ABSOLUTE figures - they are only ARBITARY at best and need to be interpreted carefully to make any meaning out of them. The point is - we don't want to just do a 'detox' and hope or think we are 'clean'. We are always 'toxifying' ourselves every time our input exceeds our output. It's really hopeless! The purpose of detoxification (as a process to achieve health) is to 'pull out' as much of an antigen (that which is causing an immune attack) as possible to STOP the immune system's response.
What we find using medical testing and kinesiology is that there is a PERCENTAGE DECREASE in the post samples/testing, compared to the pre-samples/testing. What does this mean? It basically means that the treatment protocol was mobilizing and eliminating the metals being measured.
The purpose of deeper testing is to identify 'faults' in the detoxification pathways and to measure the presence of different toxins the immune system is 'firing against'. Generally the body does not like these lethal toxins in the blood, so it 'shunts' them to fat cells where they are stored in body tissues at the earliest opportunity. In order to determine whether there are metals or other chemicals STORED in the tissues and organs, another type of test has to be conducted using either urine or feces or both.
To determine what is being eliminated from the body's organs and tissues we need to use a chelating agent that has the ability to "push-out" the metals into the blood where they can be collected in the urine - the post-sample. If indeed our chelating agent is doing this, then we would get a percentage increase of metals in this post-sample, compared to the pre-sample, taken before using the chelating agent. Typically, a URINE test is most appropriate as you will NOT show toxic levels of anything in the blood except in acute exposure.
Research has shown conclusively that different chelating agents aid in eliminating many different metals and chemicals, and possibly other xenobiotics. These tests are expensive for the patients and their interpretation requires the wisdom of an experienced practitioner but they are INVALUABLE.
Personally, as a clinician and researcher I generally do not get my patients to undergo expensive pre-post tests before recommending the Metametrix complete Organex Test. Why, do you ask? Well, I have been doing this long enough to conclude that EVERYONE is toxic, so it really is a decision about WHAT the immune system is all 'crazy' about. There is enough research that has been conducted that has demonstrated that this blanket statement that "WE ARE ALL TOXIC" is true - let's examine some of this research so that we can be more convincing.
EVERYONE IS TOXIC!
In September 2005, Greenpeace International with the World Wildlife Fund, published a document entitled "Present for Life: Hazardous Chemicals in Umbilical Cord Blood." The research was a real eye-opener as it showed convincingly that newborns tested for hundreds of different xenobiotics showed high numbers and levels of these toxins. Specifically, the blood tests showed that these newborns had an average of 287 toxins in their bodies, 180 of these are known carcinogens. Some of these chemicals included the commonly used artificial musk HHCB, which was found in almost all blood samples and at higher levels than the other artificial musks. Musk ambrette, a chemical banned for use in cosmetics in the EU since 1995, was still found in 15 maternal and 12 cord blood samples.
Other banned alkylphenol compounds (nonylphenol) extensively used in industrial cleaning agents were also found. This study also quantifies the antibacterial agent triclosan in human blood; this chemical was found in almost 50% of the samples. DDT, the notorious pesticide that is banned for agricultural use worldwide but which is still used in some places to control malaria, was still found in virtually all blood samples. Similarly, the organochlorine by-product and pesticide hexachlorobenzene - also subject to a global ban - was found in the samples. Perfluorinated compounds like PFOS and PFOA, used to make non-stick pans and water repelling coatings, were present in all but one maternal blood sample. PFOS was detected in all cord blood samples and PFOA in half of them.
We could make the assumption that this study was conducted in
The study showed high concentrations of heavy metals, such as mercury, and organochlorines in the blood and fatty tissue of the Inuit. This is attributed in particular to their high consumption of the meat and blubber of marine mammals. In this present study, 180 pregnant women and 178 newborn babies were studied, amounting to 36% of the total number of births in the
The pesticides found in the highest concentrations in maternal blood were DDE_4.8 mgrl wet wt.., trans-nonachlor_1.6 mgrl.and hexachlorobenzene_1.2 mgrl.while the total concentration of PCB_Aroclor 1260. was 19.1 mgrl. Calculated on a lipid basis, concentrations were slightly higher in maternal than in cord blood. The mercury concentrations were 16.8 mgrl in maternal blood and 35.6 mgrl in cord blood. In a linear regression analysis, the concentrations of organochlorines, mercury and selenium increased with maternal age.
Concentrations of mercury and cadmium increased with the consumption of marine mammals, and cadmium was associated with smoking. The contaminants are potentially toxic for several organ systems but the high concentrations of pollutants have so far not been shown to influence health in
A further study published in the journal Environmental Research has shown that there is a correlation between the levels of methylmercury in the pregnant and lactating mother's blood and urine and that of her newborn child. It is clear that toxins from the mother can pass through the placenta into the baby. Another study published in 2001 in Neurotoxicology showed that the level of mercury in baby's hair was quite high and argues that this is probably a consequence of vaccinations that contain mercury added as a preservative called Thirmerosal.
There is a lot of research indicating the health effects of high mercury levels on children, including the relationship of these chemical toxins to developmental delays. Add to this the levels of mercury found in adults due to amalgam fillings and there is further conclusive evidence that "we are all toxic." The research concludes that hazardous chemicals are common contaminants in both maternal and umbilical cord blood, indicating that these chemicals can pass from the mother to the baby across the placenta.
The main conclusion is that if these chemicals are present in newborns, then what is the probability that these toxic chemicals are also present in us adults and our children? Before we leave the Arctic Circle, there is another interesting study entitled, "Human health implications of environmental contaminants in Arctic Canada: a review" published in The Science of the Total Environment that has looked at the how the Inuit Eskimos are being exposed to chemicals such as chlordane, toxaphene pesticides as well as PCBs. Another fascinating study conducted by the World Wildlife Fund set out to explore whether there was any relationship between the types and levels of contamination found in three generations of families, and to examine possible links between contamination and a family's lifestyle, consumption patterns and everyday products.
The report entitled, "Contamination: The Next Generation" summarizes the findings of the analysis of 104 different chemicals in the blood of 33 volunteers from seven families living in
Five chemicals found in each parent and grandparent were also found in every child. While it might be expected that chemical burden increases with age, this study has shown that this conventional assumption is not always true: children can be more contaminated by higher numbers and levels of certain "newer" chemicals than their parents or even their grandparents, despite being exposed to these chemicals for only a fraction of the time. These "newer" chemicals include brominated flame retardants (used in sofas, textiles and electrical appliances) and perfluorinated chemicals (used in the manufacture of non-stick pans, coatings for takeaway food packaging and treatments for carpets, furniture, clothing and footwear).
The results also show that chemicals in everyday products around the home are contaminating the blood of all the families tested in the survey, including the children. For example, fifty seven per cent of the seven people found to be contaminated by deca-BDE, a brominated flame retardant, were children. Of the volunteers tested, 82 per cent were contaminated by one or more perfluorinated chemical. The perfluorinated chemical PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) was found in more than a third of the children tested. A related chemical PFOS (perfluorooctane sulphonate) was found in five of the family members tested.
There have been similar studies in the
While chemicals that have been banned for many years are still being detected, generally there is a downward trend with up to 90% reduction in the last few decades of toxins such as DDT and lead. Toxicologists studying chemical toxicity usually have a reference range of values which indicate the "safe levels" of these chemicals. New research is showing, however, that even low-dose exposure is cumulative over time and can lead to children having decreased performance in areas of motor function and memory. Similarly, disruption of attention, fine motor function and verbal memory was also found in adults on exposure to low mercury levels.
It is an occupational hazard for dental staff, chloralkali factory workers and goldminers, etc. Mercury has been found to be a causative agent of various sorts of disorders, including neurological, nephrological, immunological, cardiac, motor, reproductive and even genetic. Recently heavy metal mediated toxicity has been linked to diseases like Alzeihemer's, Parkinson's, Autism, Lupus, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, etc. Besides this, it poses danger to wildlife. This low-dose toxicity and its effects on health will be the toxicologists next goal for future research.
WHERE DO THE TOXINS COME FROM?
There are many sources and it is a sign of our times living in a highly industrialized world. Principally, the toxins enter our bodies through the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe.
A study done in
A recent report that tested mercury levels in Sushi in New York restaurants found levels that far exceeded the acceptable levels in fish. A lot of the questions regarding risk assessment when eating fish is addressed in an interesting paper entitled "Risks and Benefits of Fish Consumption: Yes, Mercury is a Problem"
Another interesting report by World Wildlife Fund - UK (2005), entitled "Still a Dirty Review of Action Against Toxic Products in Europe" highlights the occurrence of hazardous chemicals in everyday products and reports on which EU member states have taken proactive measures to help protect their citizens and wildlife. The report mentions that Phthalates used in plastics and cosmetics have been linked to reduced sperm counts. LAS, a major washing powder ingredient, are poorly broken down in rivers and soils, and may be toxic to soil organisms. Lead is still in use and is particularly toxic to children and wildlife.
Alkyl phenols and alkyl phenol ethoxylates, industrial chemicals used in plastics, pesticides and detergents, are toxic and mimic the female hormone oestrogen, causing feminisation of male fish. Brominated flame retardants, persistent chemicals widely used in electronic equipment, fabrics and plastics, are now found in human breast milk and wildlife, even in remote areas. Although little is known about their long-term toxicity, there are concerns about their potential effects on learning behavior. People that eat regularly from tinned food are likely to develop chronic gastrointestinal problems as a research study reported in Food and Chemical Toxicology entitled, "Tin in Canned Food: a Review and Understanding of Occurrence and Effect" suggests.
AMALGAM FILLINGS AND MERCURY
Mercury used in amalgam tooth fillings is a big issue of contention. Amalgam was found to be a cheap and long lasting substance to fill teeth with, but the danger of mercury poison was overlooked or ignored. The use of amalgams is now prohibited in many - though not all - countries. Dr. Engel, a holistic dentist, has written an interesting paper on the "Health Observations before and after Amalgam Removal", The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology has produced a very interesting video describing the amount of mercury that is released from amalgam fillings, even though they may be over 30 years old. Chewing gum, drinking hot drinks and brushing teeth can increase the amount of methyl mercury released from amalgam fillings. If you ever have doubt about how lethal mercury is for the nervous system, and particularly the brain, you have to see the video produced by the University of Calgary, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Physiology and Biophysics - it clearly shows how mercury completely degenerates neural fibers in a Petri dish in zero time - it's a fascinating video to watch!
VACCINATIONS AND DRUGS AS SOURCES OF TOXINS
The drugs used in vaccines and inoculations have for many years used Thimerosal as a preservative. This contains around 50% mercury and is very highly toxic, often being linked to the huge increase in autism cases. There is an interesting article published in Medical hypotheses entitled, "Autism: a Novel Form of Mercury Poisoning" showing how exposure to mercury can cause immune, sensory, neurological, motor, and behavioural dysfunctions similar to traits defining or associated with autism, and the similarities extend to neuroanatomy, neurotransmitters, and biochemistry. By the age of 10, a child may be many hundreds of times over what is considered a "safe" dose of mercury poisoning from his injections.
Although Thimerosal has been phased out of many preparations, the effect - because it is cumulative and stays in the body - is with almost all adults today. Service personnel who are subjected to many different injections for their tours of duty are particularly at risk from toxic poisoning. Some fish is contaminated with mercury and other toxic substances. Even polar bears living in the
WHAT ARE THE EFFECT OF TOXINS IN THE BODY?
Toxins accumulate in the body over time. Some people experience reactions from birth, whereas many others gradually begin to notice SYMPTOMS. Studies of children with autism and ADD and similar neurological problems are usually found to have high levels of mercury, which it thought to be a major contributory factor in these conditions. For many, a disruption of the endocrine system and metabolic functions develop over time, leading to chronic disease. These can include ME, CFS, MS and cancer.
It has to be said that VERY LITTLE RESEARCH had been carried out to determine which chemicals are linked to which diseases. Why? The pharmaceutical industry is the only agency with the billions of pounds to spend on such research, and it is not in their interest to do so since they are manufacturing and supplying many of the substances concerned. Toxicologists used to measure toxic level of a substance by giving mice an increasing dose to and see at which point 50% of them die. This was then considered the toxic dose. This method has been discredited, because it is now known that far higher levels can be gradually stored in the body over time, causing serious effects and disruptions - including chromosome damage which can lead to cancer - without death occurring. The World Wildlife Fund has printed an interesting little brochure summarizing the health effects of chemicals entitled, "Chemicals and Health: What You Need to Know"
Another interesting brochure that talks about these toxic chemicals in your own home is entitled, "Chemicals and Health in the Home."
WHAT PARTS OF THE BODY ARE AFFECTED?
All parts of the body are affected by toxins. We notice the effect when the immune system is compromised - overloaded - and we are unable to fight off some condition that the kidneys, liver and other organs connected with the lymphatic system fail to cope with and are overwhelmed preventing detoxification. This can triggers chromosomal damage - leading to development of cancerous cells.
There is now considerable research that has shown that a lot of heavy metals and other xenobiotics mimic hormone molecules and cause disruption to the hormonal system. There are also many other studies that have been conducted that have shown the deleterious effects of mercury on health - the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology has prepared a Fact Sheet with Scientific Studies Concerning Mercury Dental Fillings.
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
In acute toxicity, we use inter-venous chemical drugs like EDTA, DMSA, DMPS and others to 'chelate' the body of toxic heavy metals. These need medical supervision and are expensive. They also have side effects because they are drastic measures and toxicologists recommend these for acute poisonings where it is important to eliminate the toxins quickly.
A NATURAL METHOD!
We utilize detoxification methods from The Gerson Institute as well as specialized tools like RIFE, Ion Cleanse, and Light Beam Generator.
Because our practice is different, we attract many patients who are very ill. This is serious business and we take every case with much prayer and asking for wisdom. We see regular 'miracles' in our office when both patients and their previous doctors have given up.
WHO NEEDS IT?
As has been shown above, everyone is toxic, some more than others. Some show the toxicity more easily than others. Among these are autistic children and those suffering other neurological problems like ADHD. People working in industry where toxins are a bi-product are at risk. These include dentists & their technicians. Women preparing for pregnancy who want to lower their toxic load before conception are advised to get tested. Smokers will have high cadmium and arsenic levels, which will be dealt with proper testing and treatment. Certainly EVERY patient with autoimmune disorders are firing a toxic response
ARSENIC, As (ONE possible Heavy Metal Toxicity)
The order of decreasing toxicity (most to least) for arsenic is: arsines, inorganic arsenites, organic arsenoxides, inorganic arsenates, arsenorganics with As valence of +5, and metallic As.
Arsines can penetrate rubber and are well absorbed through the skin which will becomevesicated and blistered during the exposure. Arsines combine with hemoglobin in RBCs, cause hemolysis and cell destruction. Chronic exposures to arsines can result in anemia. Myocardial failure due to oxygen deprivation can occur in severe cases.
Sources of arsenic include: contaminated foods (especially seafoods), water or medications. Industrial sources are: ore smelting/refining/processing plants, galvanizing, etching and plating processes. Tailings from or river bottoms near gold mining areas (past or present) may contain arsenic. Insecticides, rodenticides and fungicides (Na-, K- arsenites, arsenates, also oxides are commercially available). Commercial arsenic products include: sodium arsenite, calcium arsenate, lead arsenate and "Paris green" (cupric acetoarsenite) a wood preservative.
70% of commercial chickens raised for meat in the U.S. are fed Roxarsone, a benzene arsenic compound, according to Science News. There is concern that this deposits in the meat that humans consume and has become a source of arsenic.
Arsenic effects are multiple and complex in terms of biochemistry. The mitochondria of cells accumulate the element. The pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (catalyzes formation of acetyl coenzyme A from mitochondrial pyruvic acid) is inhibited by As+++. Pyruvic acidosis may result; citric acid cycle function and formation of ATP are slowed. The citric acid cycle itself is impaired at the alpha-ketoglutaric acid dehydrogenase step; formation of succinyl coenzyme A is impaired. Both of these enzymatic steps require the active thiol, lipoic acid. Arsenic readily combines with sulfhydryl (-SH) groups. Lipoic acid is
Depending upon transport in various tissues, arsenic may react with any of the enzymes in the body that have sulfhydryl groups. Monoamine oxidase, which has eight cysteinyl residues with -SH groups is an example. Monoamine Oxidase inhibitors are used for severe depression. Other effects of arsenic include irritation of the skin and mucous membranes, chromosomal damage in lymphocytes and erythroblasts in bone marrow with leukopenia, and myocardial capillary damage.
Symptoms of arsenic exposure include:
1. Slight exposure may clear skin lesions such as acne.
2. Garlic-like breath occurs with fatigue, malaise, and nausea. Skin and mucus membrane lesions may develop with eczema or allergic-type dermatitis, raindrop areas of lost skin color (hypopigmentation), hair loss, white marks on fingernails, thickening of the skin of the palms and soles (hyperkeratosis), "melanosis" of the eyelids, areolae of nipples, and neck), conjunctivitis, bronchitis, and gingivitis.
3. Excessive salivation, stomatitis, abdominal pain.
4. Jaundice, peripheral neuropathy, polyneuritis, hemolysis, anemia, leukopenia, cyanosis of the fingers, Raynoud's Syndrome. Chronic arsenic exposure has been associated with basal cel1 carcinomas (Harrison's Principles, llth ed, p. 850.)
5. Long term arsenic exposure may lead to the progression or acceleration of carotid arteryatherosclerotic disease.
DIAGNOSTIC TESTING TO ASSESS ARSENIC STATUS
1. Blood chemistry analysis, CBC with cell differential. Red cell arsenic levels are part of the several red cell mineral panels. Blood plasma or serum levels of arsenic do not correlate well with exposure or with cellular levels capable of causing disturbed physiology or pathologies.
2. Hair element analysis. Arsenic exceeding 7 ppm in hair is cause for concern.
3. Urinary arsenic in unchelated, non-glutathione-dosed individuals is expected to be below the levels tabulated below for optimal physiological functioning of -SH bearing enzymes and coenzymes.
Age Group (yrs)
If high urinary As is found it is recommended that the test be repeated for confirmation with a new urine collection 4 to 5 days later. This is because urine Aslevels can and commonly do vary by a factor of 5 from day to day depending on diet. Seafoods and some canned foods may contain variable and high As levels.
4. A reduced L-glutathione (GSH) provocation can be done using 300 mg of GSH orally, fid. A 24-hour urine collection skipping the first am urination and collecting for the next 24 hours including the first urination of the next am provides the urine specimen. Levels of concern are the same as in the above table.
Symptoms consistent with arsenic excess include (garlic breath, dermatitis) together with elevated hair As provide strong evidence of toxicity. With symptoms and two urine analyses showing high arsenic, the evidence is irrefutable. Other confirming laboratory results would be: elevated pyruvic acid in serum or plasma, elevated alpha-ketoglutaric acid in a plasma organic acid analysis, and hematuria.
ARSENIC DETOXIFICATION THERAPY DETOXICATION OF ARSENIC
Arsenic must be methylated using methyl donors such as SAMe, trimethylglycine, dimethylglycine, methionine, etc. Some arsenic is bound to sulfur groups such as glutathione and excreted in the urine or bile.
- Remove the individual from sources of arsenic. Treat for anemia if indicated.
- Give sulfurated methyl groups and foods rich in sulfurated amino acids (garlic, eggs, beans)
- Nutrients protective against the effects of arsenic include selenium, iodine, calcium, zinc, and vitamin C. Supportive therapy with magnesium, B-vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenomethionine, lipoic acid is recommended.
- Drink adequate water (an adult's urine volume should be > 2 liters/day).
- Do not give cysteine. Although it will readily combine with As, it will also move it around in body tissues and will not necessarily clear it from the body.
- Aggressive therapy for excess arsenic can employ sulfhydryl-group type conjugating agents.
Therapy should be continued until urinary arsenic levels are consistently below those stated above
REFERENCES ON ARSENIC:
Bibliography of texts dealing with arsenic exposure, toxokinetics, laboratory findings and treatments:
- Carson B.L., H.V. Ellis and J.L. McCann Toxicology and Biological Monitoring of Metals in Humans, Lewis Publishers, Chelsea, MI, 1987, p. 27-33.
- Tsalev D.L. and Z.K. Zaprianov Atomic Absorption Spectrometry in Occupational and Environmental Health Practice, Vol. I, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL 1983, p. 87-93.
- Clarkson T.W., et al., Eds. Biological Monitoring of Toxic Metals. Plenum Press, New York NY 1988, p. 309-315.
- Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, various editions, McGraw Hill, New York, NY.
- Science News, April 6, 2002; p 214
We are all toxic to a greater or lesser degree and NO amount of any toxin is a "safe" level. When we become conscious of the toxic world that we live in, then detoxifying the body on many different levels is imperative to maintaining optimal health and keeping degenerative diseases at bay. Detoxifying toxic metals and other xenobiotics from the body is also another level of detox that is important to be added into any detoxification protocol - HMD™ is an easy option which is cost effective for all the family, including children and pets, and has no side effects but is extremely effective at removing these harmful chemicals from the body.
A mineral fiber commonly used in building materials. EPA and Consumer Products Safety Commission have banned the use and manufacturers have voluntarily limited the use of asbestos. Surface use was banned in 1978. However, manufacturers were allowed to sell existing stocks of products.
Surface uses include fire proofing coat sprayed on steel beams in buildings, acoustic 'cottage cheese' ceilings, plaster, spackling and joint compound, ceiling texturing material, steam pipe and boiler jacketing, building wrap, heating duct joint tape, pot holders, hot gloves, gas fireplace glow coals (banned in 1974).
Asbestos can also be found in floor tiles, floor covering backing, electrical insulation, brake shoes, clutch plates, fire liners, V-belts, gaskets, roofing, and mastics. These uses were eliminated at later dates with the last in the early 1990's.
The presence of asbestos containing materials cannot be detected without microscopic examination. Asbestos becomes airborne by sanding, cutting, removal and other remodeling activities and in the case of pipe insulation and duct tape by mechanical damage and deterioration with age.
If your home was built before or near 1978, and if you will have materials that will be disturbed by construction or remodeling, test for asbestos before starting work. If you have steam heating system older than 1978, you most likely have asbestos.
Health Effects: The most dangerous fibers are too small to be visible. They pass through standard vacuum cleaner bags. The primary hazard comes from inhalation or ingestion. Asbestos causes cancer of the lungs, chest and abdominal linings. Symptoms do not show up until many years after exposure.
Identification and Abatement: Proper removal and handling is a must. Once your home is contaminated, clean up will be expensive and your family's health could be irreparably damaged. Improper, unlicensed disposal is a criminal offense.
Only licensed specialists may identify, remove and dispose of asbestos containing materials. Look in the yellow pages under Asbestos Consulting & Testing and Asbestos Abatement & Removal Service. Do not use the same firm for identification and abatement. Make sure the contract covers post abatement testing to assure the cleanup job was done right.
Biological contaminants include fungi (mold, mildew), bacteria, virus, animal dander, cat saliva, cockroach parts and feces, pollens, dust mites parts and their feces. The natural environment contains all of these materials.
There are numerous sources for these contaminants. For example, pollens originate from plants, and trees. Viruses are transmitted by people and animals. Bacteria cohabitate with people, animals and plants both inside and outside their bodies. Household pets and pests are a source of dander and saliva. Protein in rat and mice urine becomes a potent airborne allergen when it dries. Wet building materials and contaminated air conditioning systems can become breeding grounds for bacterial and fungi.
Health Effects: People having excessive exposures to these contaminates or having weakened immune systems may have reactions to any of these biological materials. Some contaminants cause allergic reactions including hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic rhinitis and asthma. Other contaminants transmit infectious diseases like influenza, measles and chickenpox. Some biologicals like certain fungi produce toxins (mycotoxins) as a by-product of living.
Reactions can include: sneezing, watery eyes, coughing, shortness of breath, dizziness, lethargy, fever, digestive problems, joint problems, lung damage.
Some allergic reactions occur immediately after exposure. Other times reactions are the result of previous exposure so the person can not easily connect the cause with the effect. Some people experience a sensitizing event that leaves them highly reactive to contaminants they had no reaction to before. Frequently after the event these people are reactive to a range of contaminants which may not have bothered them before.
Children, the elderly and people with breathing problems or lung disease are particularly susceptible to these contaminants
Identification and Abatement: Find and eliminate the cause of damp conditions. Clean and sanitize the affected areas. Fungi are normally microscopic. If you can see the growth the infestation is advanced. Use appropriate protective equipment (respirator, disposable coveralls, gloves) before handling or, cleaning up infestations.
Sanitize infected areas with I cup bleach to a gallon of water or use 35 volume beautician grade hydrogen peroxide mixed with water. Use eye goggles and rubber gloves. Products with a residual prevention effect are available see the resource sheet.
Lead is found in older, oil based paints, glazes on dinnerware, bullets and fishing sinkers, soldered cans, printing inks, plumbing fixtures, stained glass, and cosmetics. Lead was in gasoline for many years resulting in contamination of the soil. This soil tracked into the home ends up in carpeting and will be stirred into the air by foot traffic. Lead in water is addressed in the water section.
Two thirds of homes built before 1940, one third of homes built from 1940 to 1960 and an unknown number built from 1960 to 1978 contain paint with lead. Lead in paint was banned by the EPA in 1978.
Lead paint was primarily used for interior trim and for exterior painting because of superior durability. Lead paint becomes hazardous when it chips, peels or is sanded since it may then be ingested or inhaled. Window sashes painted with lead paint generate lead dust when opened and closed. This accumulates on the sills. Lead from exterior siding washed into the soil surrounding older homes and can be found there at high levels.
Lead in pottery and dinnerware glazing is still prevalent.
Health Effects: Lead is toxic even at low levels. The body normally contains no lead. Today lead level in many people is already significant. Lead can cause serious damage to brain, kidneys, peripheral nervous system. The effects of lead include delays in physical and mental development, lower IQ, shortened attention span and increased behavior problems.
Fetuses, infants, and children are most at risk. The effect of a given amount of lead is more serious for children because of lower body weight. Children have higher exposures because they get lead dust on their hands or eat lead chips that taste sweet. A hair analysis or blood test can identify exposure.
Structural Identification and Abatement: This work can be done only by certified lead specialists. Check your yellow pages under Lead Testing and Consulting. Never use the same firm for both identification and remediation. This is a conflict of interest. Check under Lead Removal & Abatement for help in containing or removing the lead.
Naturally occurring radioactivity is found in greater quantity in some areas of the country than others. We account for this by taking radiation readings both outdoors and indoors and calculating the percentage change. Indoor readings are normally his/her due to the unknowing use of radioactive building materials such as gypsum board, granite, slate, and concrete products containing such materials. Some increase in radioactivity is permissible.
Artists have unknowingly used radioactive glazes on ceramic items. Shower tiles have been discovered with radioactive glazes. Strange as it may seem companies have been granted permission to make smoke detectors and compact (energy efficient) fluorescent lights using small amounts of potent radioactive waste. Safe alternatives to these products are available.
Please note: Radioactive products are hazardous waste and must be disposed of properly at a household hazardous waste facility.
Radon gas, which produces radioactive substances, is covered in a separate section.
Health Effects: A great deal of research exists detailing the numerous detrimental health effects of excess radiation exposure. The form radio activity takes is that of high energy particles or rays. This energy is released when the particle or ray strikes a living cell. The energy can cause damage to the cell's machinery. Sometimes this damage is manifest as leukemia or other cancers. The accepted practice is to limit exposure.
A naturally occurring colorless, odorless gas that comes out of the ground, seeps elements, and moves upstairs. It can be found in soils and rocks containing uranium, graphite, granite, shale, phosphate, and pitchblende.
Radon decays into a radioactive elements known as radon daughters. Daughters float around in the air attached to dust particles. When breathed in the particles find their way into the bronchial air passages and stick to the surface. There they stay to irradiate the surrounding cells.
In parts of the country. The house next door may not have it. Fixing this is typically $200-$1500.00.
Health Effects: Radon is second only to smoking as a cause of lung cancer. Breathing in 4 picoCuries/L (pCi/L) of radon is equated to smoking half a pack of cigarettes per day. In other words two people in a community of 100 would be expected to die at this level of inhalation. The EPA says that radon is responsible for 16,000 deaths per year in the US. The effect of radon exposure is longer term as it does not normally make people feel poorly on a day to day basis.
Interpreting Test Results: An inexpensive test for radon is available at your option. It requires 2 to 4 days. Follow the directions and mail the container to a lab and the results will be mailed back to you.
Outdoor levels are in the range of 0.3 - 0.7 pCi/L The EPA limit for radon is 4(pCi/L). This means that action should be taken to remove the radon. The average home level is 1.5 pCi/L. However, no level of radon is considered safe. Removal systems typically achieve a level in the range of 0.3 to 0.7pCi/L.
When building a new home action should always be taken to prevent radon from entering the basement by putting a rubber seal between the slab and the block walls. Underlay the slab with a plastic sheet. Place six inches of gravel below the plastic sheet. A sub-slab mechanical ventilation system can be added at low cost and gives much better assurance that no radon will ever enter the basement. This is an asset at resale.
Natural gas, propane gas, and sewer (methane) gas, formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOC) and gases from combustion are some of the common toxic gas exposures. The source of fuel gas is leaking pipe fittings, gas valves and defective control equipment. Sewer gas can be emitted from unused drains when the water in the drain elbow has evaporated and no longer blocks the fumes as intended. Formaldehyde gas is given off by a wide variety of building products such as plywood, chip board, particle board, drywall, sealants, calking, carpet padding and paint, as well as treated fabrics. This gas can be pervasive in homes up to 10 years old. Other materials can emit dozens of different VOCS. Examples are: paints, solvents, dry cleaning, pesticides, sealants, glues, mastics, carpets, household cleaning products. Combustion gases, created when fuel (gas, wood, kerosene, coal) is burned can back up from the stack venturi due to poor air flow up the exhaust stack or back drafts from winds.
Testing for specific VOCs is quite expensive and is not recommended unless there is evidence of a problem. Blood and urine tests can detect exposure to many of these organic compounds.
Health Effects: Blurred vision, headaches, nausea, dizziness, coughing, burning eyes, sinus irritation, skin rashes, respiratory illness, light-headedness, concentration problems, depression, and in extreme cases loss of consciousness, and suffocation.
- Unbag dry cleaning and air out in the garage for a day.
- Check household cleaning products for phrase "use in well ventilated area" then replace with safe products. (See Resources Sheet).
- Use no VOC paint from Benjamin-Moore or Kelly-Moore. Other companies have low VOC-emitting paints.
- Avoid vinyl products like shower curtains, wall paper and floor coverings.
- Choose carpet and padding that have a low smell level. Have the carpet aired out before installing. (See Resource for HD padding).
- Run water occasionally into seldom used sinks and floor drains to keep gas trap filled.
The EPA ranks drinking water pollution as one of the top five environmental threats to health.
Public water from surface run off does contain hazards to health such as heavy metals (like lead), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pesticides, nitrates (from fertilizer run off), bacteria, viruses and parasites (cysts). Fluoride and chlorine are intentionally added, but have negative health effects. Chlorine reacts with organic matter to produce dangerous by- products. Asbestos fibers are introduced by 200,000 miles of asbestos pipes.
42 million people in the US consume water with unsafe levels of lead and copper. The EPA considers lead and copper in water to be a primary health threat. EPA testing done in 1992 showed many public water systems exceeded the 5 ppb maximum for lead. Lead levels as small as 5 ppb have been shown to cause health problems in children. Lead is leached from older lead distribution pipes and from lead solder in fittings in your plumbing system. So lead can be added to the water before and after the water gets to your house. Lead solder was banned in 1978.
Studies in Canada show people are less sick when they drink correctly purified water. Reports of illness from parasites and virus in public water are on the increase.
Well water can be contaminated with some of the above and can contain radon too.
Heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, mercury, lead,) are associated with increased disease susceptibility, birth defects, nerve damage, mental retardation, certain cancers. Chlorine and pesticides are meant to kill biological organisms and as a biological organism ourselves, these aren ot without effect. THMS and chlorine by-products are carcinogenic. Fluoridation has been stopped in Europe because of negative health consequences. See the webpage on fluoride.
Recommendations: All drinking and cooking water should be purified to remove the six contamination (groups. Bathing water should be filtered to remove chlorine and its by-products, fluoride, and VOCs since the skin, the body's largest organ, is permeable to these volatile chemicals.
A private water supply should be tested annually. Well water also should be checked for radon. Spring water sources that are vented to the atmosphere do not need to be tested for radon.
Plumbing was installed before 1988 may have lead solder. It was banned after this time.
Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields
Electricity produces both magnetic and electric fields. These together are termed EMF. Magnetic fields are present when current flows to power appliances and lights. Electric fields are present at all times and are produced by the wiring in the walls, floors and ceilings and wires to appliances, etc. EMF cannot be sensed by most people, hence measurements must be made to find and reduce the fields.
Health Effects: AC Magnetic field exposure causes longer term health problems. A 1992 Swedish epidemiological study of 436,000 people reported children exposed to fields more than one milligauss had twice the risk of leukemia than did children with exposure less than one milligauss. For fields more than two milligauss the risk was three times; and over three milligauss four times the risk.(1) Adults exposed to fields over two milligauss showed a 70% increased risk of developing leukemia compared to adults exposed to less than one milligauss. A Swedish occupational study in 1992 confirm this linkage for adults.(1)
Electric field exposure effects are based on 10 years of work in Germany and over 4000 home inspections. These fields cause stress to the body particularly at night when resting that can be manifested as insomnia, fitful sleep, night sweats, strains, pulled muscles, heart flutters, waking up tired, constipation, irritability, and bed wetting in children.(2) People react differently to electric fields and to field intensities, so there is no specific 'electric'malady.
Electricity has made life better in many ways so we cannot just turn it off. We will have to develop a new respect for its bad side and exercise prudent avoidance. Prudent avoidance means people recognize that there are risks inherent in many things, and that we must use our personal judgement to decide when and where we will avoid certain risk factors.
General Avoidance Recommendations:
- Stay 3 feet away from appliances - stove, oven, toaster, dryer, heater.
- Keep children 10 feet from the TV
- Keep clocks, radios, cassette players 3 feet away from sleeping areas, and
- Keep wires and lamp cords away from the sleeping area or most effective or
- Turn off the circuits identified in the sleeping place evaluation. (Remote control equipment is available for turning the circuits on and off from the bedroom)
- Keep 3 feet away from computer video display terminal.
- Fix any abnormally high magnetic fields identified in the study or avoid using the area.
High Frequency Electromagnetic Fields
This kind of field comes from radio, TV, police, fire, and military communications, microwave, radar, and cellular phones. The energy level is billions of times stronger than the natural high frequency energies from the cosmos that existed during our biological development. Today these energies are all pervasive and can be measured every where on the earth. The wireless age is increasing the density of such energies at an unprecedented rate.
Health Effects: Research shows eye cataracts, blood composition changes, hormone alterations, and chromosomal abnormalities are induced by high frequency energies. The power levels involved were one hundredth of the standard now set by the US government. An Air Force study on rats in the early 80's showed stress induced reduction in immune system response and cancers of the pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal glands at a low (0.5m watts/cm) energy level.(1) Research on pulsed digital wireless communications signals that are close to the head suggest that they increase nonmalignant tumors of the auditory nerve, increased brain cancer, cause chromosome damage and DNA breaks in brain tissue.
Building biologists have clients whose health and ability to heal are negatively affected by high frequency energy. These people live near broadcast towers, cell phone towers and/or are near the transmission paths of the numerous microwave installation that now replace telephone wires in so many places.
The work that has been done suggests prudent avoidance.
General Avoidance Recommendations:
- Avoid living or working near broadcast towers and cell towers. Suburbs and the country is normally better because the sources of these signals are usually in urban areas. Watch out for microwave repeater stations located at high points between large urban centers. The rapid increase in cell phone towers placements has the potential to affect many, many people.
- Metal acts as a concentrator of high frequency energy. Keeping metal away from the sleeping area is prudent. The metal springs in your bed act as an energy concentrator.
- High frequency radiation can be reduced through the use of shielding materials.
- Stand away from microwave ovens when they are operating.
DC Magnetic Fields
These should not be confused with AC magnetic fields or with high frequency fields. This kind of field is produced by the earth and by man-made permanent magnets.
Our bodies developed biologically in the uniform DC magnetic field of the Earth. Deviations in the earth's natural magnetic field either in strength or direction are cause for concern and prudent avoidance.
More than 60% of all inner spring mattresses and box springs tested show non-uniform magnetic hot spots along, the length of the bed. These hot spots cause a shift in the location of true north so far as the body is concerned, but only for the parts of the body lying on the hot spots. (See also the High Frequency EMF section for comments on other effects from bed springs.) Other objects around the bed may be non-uniformly and strongly magnetized. For example: the bed frame, steel furnishings, steel objects stored under or around the bed.
Health Effects: Studies in Europe indicate disturbed DC magnetic fields in the sleeping place confuses the body and can cause insomnia, chronic fatigue, and other sleep related problems. DC fields have been shown to influence enzyme activity, oxygen usage, and the growth rate of cancer cells. Some people wearing glasses with a magnetized frames have been reported to have strong headaches. Some types of stereo headphones use magnets for the speaker and also have caused headaches. Studies show sleeping with your head to the north optimizes red blood cell production and yields optimal deepness of sleep.
- It is best to sleep with no steel in or around the bed. This can be accomplished using a futon or a natural latex rubber mattress. A waterbed could be satisfactory, but the water heater subjects the body to high EMF. Insulating blankets are available that makes heater use unnecessary. The vinyl container for the water gives off plasticizer fumes that will add more unwanted stress to the sleeping place.
- Use a bed frame made of wood.
- Orient your bed so your head points north,
- Check new mattresses before purchase for magnetic variation using a liquid filled compass. The needle deviation should be no more than 2 degrees to be ideal no more than 10 to be weak.
- Use magnetic health products cautiously.