The choice to live a greener lifestyle is often daunting and complicated. There are so many toxins and chemicals in our world that it seems impossible to get away from them. Some people may say, “Why bother? You can’t get away from everything.”
The new report released by Environmental Defence called Pre-Polluted: A report on toxic substances in the umbilical cord blood of Canadian newborns presents an extremely good reason why we should bother, and why we need to bother.
They tested the umbilical cord blood of 3 newborn babies in Ontario for toxic chemicals, and discovered 137 toxins present. Brand new babies are starting their lives “pre polluted” – toxins in their mothers’ bodies are now in their own bodies.
One of the most shocking statements from the report:
“Of the 137 chemicals found in total, 132 are reported to cause cancer in humans or animals, 110 are considered toxic to the brain and nervous system and 133 cause developmental and reproductive problems in mammals.”
This is so scary to me. I know I’m definitely more to the green hippie side of the spectrum, but shouldn’t something like this bother even those on the opposite end? Can anyone say they WANT our health to be compromised? Don’t the people in government and industry care about the danger to human and animal life? I know it’s all in the name of money – but come on. You can’t enjoy your vast amounts of money if you are wasting away from God knows how many illnesses due to the chemicals you insisted on using!
Okay, sorry. Got a bit over-ranty there. What I took away from the report:
1. Newborns are vulnerable – which means the toxins present can do more damage to them than to an adult. We don’t really know what or how significant the impact is on their health, now or in their futures.
2. Toxins stay in our bodies for a long time – who knows how long – and while they are there, they’re wreaking havoc on our health. Some of the chemicals found in the cord blood samples were ones that have already been banned, which means the mothers were exposed to them at some point before they were banned and they continue to remain in their bodies, long enough to pass on to their babies.
Quoted from the Environmental Defence report:
“PCBs were banned from production and importation in Canada in 1977, yet 96 of these chemicals turned up in our samples.”
NOW Toronto Ecoholic columnist Adria Vasil did an interview with Environmental Defence discussing the significance of this report, despite its small sample size.
The CTV news story reports on a currently ongoing study out of the University of Montreal looking at the burden of environmental chemicals on mothers and their babies. I’m happy to see that research is going forward to prove the point. Now it’s time for government and industry to start paying attention.
So what can we do? We can be active citizens in many ways:
Start greening and de-toxifying your life.
Obviously the average person isn’t made of money and can’t afford to get rid of everything in his/her life that is potentially toxic. But you can take steps. Try targeting one area of your life at a time, whether it be skincare products, food, or furniture. Try making 1 small change in a week, or in a month, to set realistic goals.
When you need to buy something, make an educated choice.
If you need a new bathroom cleaner, face wash, stirfry wok or couch, or are doing renovations in your home, get educated on commonly found toxins and do your best to avoid them when buying new. Your voice as a consumer makes a difference in what kind of products should be on the market. And your health and the health of your family will be impacted by your choice.
Take action on a political level.
This doesn’t have to be hard or take a lot of time – you can sign a petition or join Environmental Defence on many levels to lobby the government. Sign up for newsletters from Environmental Defence here (you can pick and choose what info you’re interested in).