EDI TORIAL DIREC TOR Tim Studt
MANAGING EDI TOR Lindsay Hock
WEB PRODUC TION SPECIALIS T
AR T DIREC TOR Carol Kuchta
What Are Our
Most of us are enveloped each day by a man-made environment that stresses the limits of our
body’s senses and organs. We are immersed in an increasing number of chemical, biological
and radiation assaults, each of which is often considered independently safe by various regulatory agencies, but for which the combined exposure risk is really incalculable. The only saving
grace, it seems, is the amazingly adaptive capabilities of our bodies—but obviously only up to
a point and not uniformly across the population.
Those same global regulatory agencies have reduced the creation and distribution of
recognized toxic chemicals over the past ten years—admittedly most of those reductions
occurred during the global economic recession of 2008 and 2009, which then resumed their
steady rise in 2010 and beyond. But the use, pervasiveness and dispersion of an unending
number of chemicals in our foodstuffs, personal care products, cleaners, aerosols and other
products we expose ourselves to every day continues unabated. And no one could possibly
determine the interactions between all of these—I count 22 ingredients alone in the “Happy
Sensation” skin lotion I use, most of which I have no idea of their source or reaction effects
with other chemicals that I might happen to be exposed to.
And then there are the chemical constituents of prescription drugs, vitamins, synthetic
nutrients and other products we consume to ensure our health—the interactions of which not
even the most powerful supercomputer in the world can calculate.
Of course, our daily exposure to these individual chemicals is on a really small scale—the
amount of blue 1 and yellow 5 food dyes that I ingest each day from my toothpaste is truly miniscule, but I am exposed to them daily and in combination with a plethora of other food dyes alone.
And looking at the literally hundreds of chemicals we’re exposed to daily, their possible
long-term effect on our DNA and cellular make-up is surely enough to make one become
apprehensive and fatalistic about our long-term survivability. Looking through the cabinet,
I could only find one product without any type of chemical additive—honey, but of course
that’s because its 76% sugar. And if I ran a sample of that honey through a UHPLC instrument,
I’d probably wind up with trace indications of insecticides, fertilizers, drugs (from the contaminated water table) and numerous other chemicals I could not even hope to identify.
So the chemical processor that I call a body takes all of these chemicals in on a daily basis
and converts them into tissues and electrochemical energy sources. And they then cause me to
question their viability while I write this editorial.
This is not the first time that I’ve conjured up the consequences of this topic. Nor am I the
only person to consider the possible consequences of our chemical exposure overload. However, while permissible exposure limits (PELs) have been established for some time for workers
in potentially hazardous production environments who are exposed to massive amounts of
well-identified chemicals, no equivalent requirement has ever been considered for consumers exposed to large numbers of low levels of chemical-laced products. Nor have any warning
labels ever been considered for toothpaste or frozen pepperoni pizzas for when both of these
products are consumed on a daily basis.
Some of the latest health news come from scientists evaluating natural products who warn
about the potential instability of totally natural products which could prove dangerous as well.