Exposure to tobacco smoke and other forms of air pollution in pregnancy is associated
with a wide range of behavioral, neurological, and physical difficulties
in babies including stillbirth, placental disruption, prematurity, lower mean birth
weight, congenital disabilities, reductions in lung function, and increased risk of
infant mortality. Children should not be exposed to secondhand smoke. The effect
of exposure to marijuana smoke and vaping is less well established, but it may be
similar to the risks of tobacco smoke.
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are carbon-containing chemicals that are extremely
stable, can be spread over long distances, accumulate in high concentrations
in fat tissues, and are concentrated through the food chain. Some 5000 of these
stable chemicals are grouped in a class called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances
(PFASs). They are used in a wide range of products including nonstick cookware.
The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the two-best studied PFASs,
PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), can cause
tumors and have reproductive, developmental, liver, kidney, and immunological
effects in laboratory animals. Limited findings in humans relate to infant birth
weights, effects on the immune system, cancer (for PFOA), and thyroid hormone
disruption (for PFOS).
Consumer Reports (CR) has observed that there is little
monitoring or regulation of contamination of community water supplies and bottled
water with PFASs beyond voluntary guidelines of a concentration of 70 parts per
trillion.25 Up to 110 million people in the U.S. may have tap water contaminated
with PFASs at a higher level than the one part per trillion recommended by the
scientists they have consulted. CR suggests that consumers check their municipal
supply or well water, filter their water, and choose carpet and furniture brands that
do not include stain resistant fabric. Avoiding fast food packaging and microwaveable
popcorn bags will also reduce exposure. CR has published a list of carbonated
and non-carbonated bottled water brands that are low in PFASs.
Some POPs, including DDT, are pesticides that, because of their persistence and
accumulation within the food chain, have resulted in widespread human exposures.
Exposure to DDT before the age of 14 is associated with an increased risk
of breast cancer. Dioxins (polychlorinated-p-dioxins), and polychlorinated-biphenyls
(PCBs) that are dioxin-like compounds, are examples of POPs that continue to
cause human exposure. Exposure to dioxins in pregnancy has been associated with
subtle developmental changes in the fetus. Effects on the child later in life include
changes in liver function, thyroid hormone levels, and decreased performance in
learning and intelligence tests. PCBs were manufactured in large amounts until the
1970s, and although the widespread use of PCBs is now banned, there is a damaging
legacy from the persistence of the chemical. To date, human data do not provide
an accurate basis for establishing a tolerable intake of most POPs, either for the
general population or for children, probably a more vulnerable subgroup.
This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel.