June 4, 2006 -- Even your mattress can kill you.
The most mundane, everyday products contain a toxic brew that floods the human body with some 700 synthetic chemicals - and could wreak havoc, a new book warns.
The growing number of chemicals in foods, medicines and consumer products are weakening our immune systems, triggering disease and even threatening our reproductive future, writes investigative journalist Randall Fitzgerald, author of "The Hundred-Year Lie: How Food and Medicine Are Destroying Your Health."
"There's a chemical bomb in your body - and it's about to explode," he told The Post.
Fitzgerald argues the cumulative effect of the chemicals can trigger genetic susceptibility to cancer, autism, attention deficit disorder and neurological disorders like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. He also cites alarming trends, among them the drop in human sperm counts in the last few decades and the onset of puberty in girls 8 and younger.
Fitzgerald also found startling new types of pollution.
For instance, recent water testing in California showed 60 percent of the state's rivers and streams had high levels of Prozac, Ritalin and antibiotics. People either dumped excess prescription drugs or excreted them into the sewer system. Waste-water treatment and purification plants failed to remove the toxins.
"We are constantly recycling these toxins through our bodies," Fitzgerald said.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tested the blood of more than 10,000 adults and kids over the past five years - and found hundreds of synthetic chemicals.
What's scarier, Fitzgerald reports, is the "synergy" that makes the chemicals much more toxic when mixed.
"We are all guinea pigs in a vast chemical experiment where there is no instruction manual," Fitzgerald said.
The pharmaceuticals prescribed for illness and diseases caused by synthetic chemicals introduce more toxins into the body, making us even more vulnerable to viruses - such as the looming threat of avian flu, he said.
He offers health tips on his Web site, Hundred Year Lie, Organic Food, Alternative Medicine, Natural Products.
Tap water: Chlorine transforms other chemicals into compounds linked to breast cancer, while accumulated fluoride may cause retardation.
Plastic water bottles: Molecules of bisphenol-A, used in manufacturing to make plastic flexible, leach into the water, especially when warmed by sunlight. The chemical can disrupt fetal development, memory and intelligence.
French fries: A 2005 study found that frying starches creates carcinogens.
Breast milk: Recent tests of nursing women in 18 states found traces of rocket fuel that had polluted water used to irrigate crops.
Dry cleaning: Fumes or residues from caustic solvents can cause cancer, nerve damage, memory loss, depression and cardiac abnormalities.
Air sanitizers: Fragrance sprays release benzene fumes, which can cause leukemia.
Diet drinks: The artificial sweetener aspartame, once listed by the Pentagon as a possible biochemical weapon, breaks down, when stored at 85 degrees for a week, into formaldehyde and other chemicals linked to brain tumors.
Mattresses: Flame retardants and vinyl combine with room warmth and common fungi to create toxic gases that may cause headaches and dizziness - and asphyxiate babies as in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Deodorants: Contain suspected cancer-causing chemicals; perfumes and hairspray use industrial substances known to damage the liver, kidney, hormonal process and sperm count.
Non-stick cookware: Nearly 100 percent of umbilical cords from newborns contain the chemical PFOA - used to make Teflon - which may alter hormone levels and cause birth defects.
Plastic food containers: Zapping meals in the microwave heats and releases plastic chemicals, which seep into the food. The chemicals can harm fetal development.
* Flame retardants in kids' pajamas, furniture and carpeting are sold as safe, but emit formaldehyde and other toxic gases that we inhale.
* "All-natural" does not always mean chemical-free, but the use of chemicals that mimic a natural source.
* "Unscented" or "fragrance-free" products do not necessarily mean fewer chemicals, but simply the use of chemicals without an odor.
* "New-car smell" and other vinyl aromas may delight, but are volatile organic compounds with cancer-causing styrene and formaldehyde.
excerpt taken from the new york post
by Susan Edelman and Elizabeth Wolff