Yikes! Why more awareness of what goes into the products we buy is needed.
What factors determine if you will experience healthy and cheerful aging or if it will turn into an endless chain of suffering from numerous health conditions?
Many factors shape our health, including genetics, diet, physical activity, smoking, and stress. Some other factors may be as influential but may not yet be recognized.
I am an environmental toxicologist studying how artificial chemicals affect our health. I was always interested in understanding how chemical exposures shape our current health during the embryonic and early postnatal period – life stages that are particularly sensitive to environmental stressors.
To address these questions, I focused on analyzing long-term health effects induced by a family of chemicals used as flame retardants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). The first patent for PBDE use as a flame retardant was issued in 1960, and manufacturing of commercial products containing PBDEs, such as building materials, electronics, furnishings, motor vehicles, plastics, polyurethane foams, baby pajamas, and others, began in 1965. PBDEs were first detected by scientists in animal tissues in the 1980s.
Later studies showed that concentrations of these chemicals in human blood, milk, and tissues were increasing exponentially over the past 30 years, doubling every five years, while their health effects were poorly understood.
People born in the U.S. and Canada during the last 15 to 20 years were exposed during their early life to environmental concentrations of PBDE, comparable to those that reprogrammed lipid metabolism in our experiments with mice. Thus, we believe that about 20 percent of the North American population may be at risk of conditions associated with altered lipid concentrations in blood and liver.
Will these people develop aging-related conditions more readily than previous generations? The answer is yet to come. Likely, PBDEs are not the only culprit. Many other ubiquitous pollutants, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxin (TCDD), and perfluorinated compounds (PFOS, PFNA), are known today to affect CD36 in mice.