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Pesticides & Pollution

A crop duster applies chemicals to a field of vegetation.

These toxic chemicals are found everywhere; babies are exposed to more than 200 (known) toxins and many more unknown chemicals before birth.  Toxic chemicals are in the water and the air … they have even been found in polar bears in totally unpopulated areas of the planet.

Nevertheless, there is one place where you can have some control:  your diet and your home environment.  Eating organic foods as often as possible may make a measurable difference.  Substituting natural pest and bug control measures for your own house and lawn can make a difference.  Paying attention to controllable elements of your diet and toiletry products — which is what we teach you how to do — is the biggest change you can control.  But we are realists.  If the diet alone doesn’t make the difference you were hoping for, you need to begin to look elsewhere for expossure (past or present) to elevated metals, toxic chemicals such as sulfites in cooking gas or arsenic in well water, lead in pipes, dishes and (yes) food additives.

Author Index

The list below is just part of the vast literature on toxins, and it goes back to the 1980s.  Unfortunately, even most of those older studies are still valid today simply because nobody has fixed the problem yet.

  1. Acuna 1997
  2. Adams 2000
  3. Andersen 2010
  4. Baldi 1998
  5. Bazylewicz 1999
  6. Blaylock 1999
  7. Blaylock 2009
  8. Bouchard 2010
  9. Bouma 2002
  10. Braun 2006
  11. Burright 1989
  12. Cagiano 1990
  13. Cawte 1985
  14. Chandra 1983
  15. Chen 1989
  16. Cherry 1993
  17. Cooke 1991
  18. Curtis 2008
  19. D’Amico (poster)
  20. Dencker 1998
  21. De Salvia 1995
  22. Dorner 2002
  23. Dumont 1989
  24. Eskenazi 2007
  25. Fechter 1980
  26. Fernandez 1983
  27. Finley 2004
  28. Garry 2002
  29. Goyer 1990
  30. Gross 1981
  31. Hauser 1998
  32. Jamal 1997
  33. Janicke 1993
  34. Johns 1995
  35. Kishi 1995
  36. Koger 2005
  37. Kurt 1998
  38. Labie 2007
  39. Lai 2013
  40. Landrigan 1993
  41. Lanphear 2005
  42. Lanphear 2012
  43. Lanphear 2015
  44. Lindstrom 1995
  45. Liu 2010
  46. Lorenzana 1983
  47. Lu 2006
  48. McBride 1982
  49. MMWR 1998
  50. Nelson 1984
  51. Neuman 2006
  52. Olopade 2005
  53. O’Reilly 1993
  54. Palmer 2011
  55. Pepeljnjak 2005
  56. Perera 2014
  57. Raby 1995
  58. Rathee 2012
  59. Ribas-Fito 2007
  60. Rice 1998
  61. Rice 1999
  62. Rice 1999
  63. Rice 2000
  64. Rice 2003
  65. Rice 2010
  66. Rogge 2003
  67. Ross 1997
  68. Rossi 1997
  69. Ruppert 1985
  70. Sadun 1998
  71. Sagiv 2010
  72. Schantz 2003
  73. Schettler 2001
  74. Schlein 2012
  75. Selvin 1991
  76. Sonnenschein 1998
  77. Stein 2002
  78. Stein 2008
  79. Takahashi 2012
  80. Takayams 1999
  81. Tilson 1980
  82. Tirado 2000
  83. Von Hilsheimer 1974
  84. Watanabe 2001
  85. Weiss 1988
  86. Yamawaki 1982
  87. Yochum 2014
  88. Zhou 2014
Lanphear 2015: Review on toxins and the brain

The impact of toxins on the developing brain., Lanphear BP, 2015,  Annual Review of Public Health, Mar 18;36:211-30

The impact of toxins on the developing brain is usually subtle for an individual child, but the damage can be substantial at the population level. Numerous challenges must be addressed to definitively test the impact of toxins on brain development in children: We must quantify exposure using a biologic marker or pollutant; account for an ever-expanding set of potential confounders; identify critical windows of vulnerability; and repeatedly examine the association of biologic markers of toxins with intellectual abilities, behaviors, and brain function in distinct cohorts. Despite these challenges, numerous toxins have been implicated in the development of intellectual deficits and mental disorders in children. Yet, too little has been done to protect children from these ubiquitous but insidious toxins. The objective of this review is to provide an overview on the population impact of toxins on the developing brain and describe implications for public health.


Perera 2014: Prenatal pollution and ADHD

Early-life exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and ADHD behavior problems, Perera FP, Chang HW, Tang D, Roen EL, Herbstman J, Margolis A, Huang TJ, Miller RL, Wang S, Rauh V. PLoS One, 2014 Nov 5;9(11):e111670

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are widespread urban air pollutants from combustion of fossil fuel and other organic material shown previously to be neurotoxic. In a prospective cohort study, we evaluated the relationship between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder behavior problems and prenatal polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure, adjusting for postnatal exposure.

Children of nonsmoking African-American and Dominican women in New York City were followed from in utero to 9 years. … Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder behavior problems were assessed using the Child Behavior Checklist and the Conners Parent Rating Scale- Revised.

The results suggest that exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons encountered in New York City air may play a role in childhood Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder behavior problems.

MedLine || Full Text

Takahashi 2012: Mercury fillings change DNA in rats

Effect of dental amalgam on gene expression profiles in rat cerebrum, cerebellum, liver and kidney, Takahashi Y, Tsuruta S, Honda A, Fujiwara Y, Satoh M, Yasutake A, The Journal of Toxicological Sciences. 2012; 37(3):663-6.

Dental amalgam is a source of exposure to elemental mercury vapor in the general population. … mercury vapor was found to increase or decrease the expression of several genes more than 2-fold in the cerebrum and cerebellum of the brain, in the liver, and in the kidney.

MedLine || Full Text

Lanphear 2012: Chemical exposure before birth and ADHD

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Preventable Epidemic? Lanphear, BP. Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, 2012, 166(12), 1182-4.

Some critics have argued that the concentrations of environmental contaminants routinely found in pregnant women and children are too low to be biologically active. Yet, therapeutic levels of methylphenidate, the most commonly prescribed drug used to modify ADHD symptoms in children, are comparable to the concentrations in which the toxic effects of some environmental contaminants have been observed.

MedLine || Full Text || Get Password


Pollution and ADHD

Heavy industry

According to Student Science, children have an increased risk of ADHD without hyperactivity by age 9 if their moms inhaled certain kinds of air pollution while pregnant.   Called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), these chemicals are released when things — gasoline, wood, or trash — don’t burn completely.   It is not yet known whether this means that the PAHs damage the DNA directly or whether they damage the endocrine system. (for more information, see the Perera 2014 study).

Pesticides and ADHD

Children who have the highest levels of pesticides in their bodies are the most likely to develop symptoms of ADHD. This was the finding of a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 2010. (It was described in the December 2010 issue of Pure Facts.) The researchers found that 94% of American children had detectable levels of pesticides in their urine.

The lead author of the study, Maryse Bouchard, explained that the pesticides so widely used in commercially grown fruits and vegetables affect the brain chemicals that are closely related to those involved in symptoms of ADHD.

The following year the American Academy of Pediatrics called for an overhaul of the federal system that regulates the chemicals used in producing our food (Pure Facts June 2011).

But sadly, the belief persists that pesticides and herbicides are necessary for Americans to enjoy affordable food, and for farmers and ranchers to be able to make a living. However, there are pioneers in twenty-first century America who not only reject this philosophy, but who are showing how we can nourish ourselves without destroying our air, water or land. This April 2012 issue of Pure Facts highlights the work of two such teachers, Joel Salatin and Sally Fallon Morell.

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