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Environmental Toxicants

​What is a toxin?

A toxin is any substance chemically derived or naturally occurring in such concentration that its exposure results in an adverse health effect. These effects may be acute (short term) or chronic (long term) and are based on the individual’s sensitivity to the compound emitted, the dose of exposure, time of exposure and the toxicity of the chemical. 

Are children more susceptible to toxins than adults? Environmental Toxins

Since children eat more food, drink more water, and breathe more per pound than adults, they intake more toxins into their bodies. Besides, their metabolism and defense systems are not well developed which increase susceptibility to chemical exposures. Children's bodies are growing and developing more rapidly so, chemicals that can harm development can do maximum damage at this critical time.  

Children are exposed to toxins as early as conception and therefore the in-utero development may be affected by toxins that enter the mother's body by inhalation or ingestion as well as dermal contact. Parents of infants and toddlers are challenged by the child constantly putting their hands (and other objects) into their mouths. This creates a concern of ingesting some toxicants such as pesticides and heavy metals, as well as allergens and dust particulates. The small stature of children also exposes them to volatiles that are low lying or emitted from carpet or other flooring, as well as those encapsulated in dust. 

​How are toxins produced?

There are a variety of chemical contaminants found in a variety of sources. Toxicants could be of natural origin or resulting from human activity (anthropogenic). Main source of anthropogenic compounds is the chemical industry (industrial solvents, paints, adhesives, oil and petrochemical industries, household products, pesticides and fertilizers, fabric materials & furnishings, etc.). Regarding chemicals of natural origin, a good example are heavy metals that are present in the environment (mercury, lead, etc.) apart from being the result of human activity.

What are some toxicants/contaminants I should be concerned with?

  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Pesticides
  • Diesel Particulate
  • Dioxins
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
  • Styrene
  • Trichlorethylene
  • 1,3 butadiene
  • Methyl-tert-butyl ether (MTBE)
  • Benzene
  • Chlorinated hydrocarbons such as Chloroform
  • Heavy Metals
  • Chlorine
  • Phthalates
  • Asbestos
  • Carbon Monoxide, Carbon Dioxide, Nitrogen Oxides, Sulfur Dioxides and Toxins such as fungal, mold and bacteria.

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