What are PCBs and what can they do to me?

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Sometimes in natural medicine, it isn’t just about what we give that helps but it is about what we take away.  Environmental medicine is becoming more and more of a concern for those who are in the know.  In fact, it is a little scary.  It gets a little confusing when helpful things are under attack but insidious, harmful things seem to skate by under the radar.  I’m going to attempt to bring some of these darker aspects of modern day life, to light.

Polychlorinated biphenyl, aka, PCB, is a chemical that has no odor or color and has the consistency of a viscous liquid.  It is a member of the organochloride compound family that is formulated by combining a chlorine with a biphenyl.  It does not dissolve in water and is resistant to high temperatures.

Actually, PCBs were never intended to be released into the environment.  They leaked out of fluorescent lighting fixtures, television sets, refrigerators, and electrical devices that were made more than 30 years ago.

You are exposed to this by eating meats from animals that were exposed to the chemical.  It is in the air, water, and soil.  Drinking contaminated well water and breathing air near hazardous waste sites are other ways to be exposed.

I know, you are probably thinking; okay, I can’t drink, eat, or breathe and be safe.  I know it sounds like that.  This isn’t meant to be a doomsday post, just a bit that helps you to protect yourself.  You may also be thinking I’m going to die anyway from something, so who cares?  If you are older, and done having children, and if you desire to throw caution to the wind, you are free.  Here is the biggest catch, it may not actually kill you, just maim you terribly.

Here are the Health Effects:

  • Cancer
    • Liver
    • Gall Bladder
    • Skin
    • Brain
    • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
    • Pancreatic
    • Lung
    • Kidney
    • Prostate
  • Developmental
    • Children with significant neurological problems
    • Children with significant motor control problems
    • Lower IQ
  • Hormone Function
    • Shortened menstrual cycles
    • Reduced sperm count
    • Premature puberty
  • Immune system and thyroid
    • Disrupts thyroid function (any one with a thyroid issue can feel the significance of this alone!)

PCBs are no longer being manufactured but they do not ever degrade.  They become increasingly concentrated in fatty tissue of people and animals that are higher up the food chain.  PCBs can be fatal to fish and other smaller creatures.

So here’s the thing.  You eat fish that are exposed to PCBs and then later on in life decide to have a baby.  Maybe you can’t even have a child.  If you do, the child may come out with decreased birth weight, lowered IQ, behavioral issues, and psychomotor issues.  This actually happened to couples who ate fish out of Lake Ontario.

PCBs can enter the body through the skin, mouth, or lungs.  Symptoms of exposure are severe acne, rashes, and eye problems.

Essentially, protecting our environment is protecting our health.  There is no other way.

To avoid PCBs:

  • Eliminate high fat products – butter is a great example, but meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs in in this category as well.  The fat acts to sequester the harmful chemicals away from the more important organs.  Many harmful chemicals bio-accumulate in the fat, such as dioxin.
  • Avoid farmed fish and fish from contaminated waterways
  • Have your well water analyzed

http://environmentalchemistry.com

http://www.foxriverwatch.com

http://www.clearwater.org

http://www.epa.gov/osw/hazard/tsd/pcbs/pubs/effects.htm

http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov.tfacts17.pdf

 

 

mhoWhat are PCBs and what can they do to me?

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