What is body burden?

Have you ever heard of your “body burden” before?

This term may be new to you, but your body burden is as much a part of you as your eyes and ears – it’s the term used to describe all of the unnatural, man-made chemicals in our bodies.

Our body burden starts growing even before we’re born: studies have found that babies nowadays are born with more than 200 man-made, industrial chemicals already in their blood. This number will grow to more than 700 by adulthood.

Crazy, right!?

How are we exposed to these chemicals?

Most often, we don’t even realize we’re being exposed! They’re found in things that we come into contact with daily, whether indirectly from the environment or directly through the products we choose to use on our bodies and in our surroundings, and the foods and drinks we choose to consume.

The scariest part? Most of these chemicals have not been well studied. Only around 200 of the over 80,000 chemicals used in commerce have ever been studied for safety. Yes, just 200! And 20% of those 80,000 are kept secret as “trade secrets.” So, we don’t even really know the effects these chemicals are having on our health, or even know what chemicals we’re being exposed to in some cases!

“With nearly 80,000 chemicals on the market in the United States, many of which are used by millions of Americans in their daily lives and are understudied and largely unregulated, exposure to potential environmental carcinogens is widespread.” – President’s Cancer Panel, 2008–2009 Annual Report

How is this possible?

I know: it seems like this wouldn’t be legally allowed! But the fact of the matter is that for decades, the chemical industry in the US went virtually unregulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council:

TSCA makes it nearly impossible for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take regulatory action against dangerous chemicals, even those that are known to cause cancer or other serious health effects.

When TSCA became law in 1976, the goal was to ensure the safety of chemicals from manufacture to use and disposal. But weaknesses in the law have left the EPA largely unable to act on known health dangers or require testing on specific chemicals that may be unsafe. Other laws, such as those setting air, water, and workplace safety standards, do not adequately regulate exposure to most chemicals, nor do they address the hazards a chemical may pose over its lifecycle.

When TSCA was passed into law in 1976, more than 60,000 chemicals were approved for use but only 200 were/have since been tested for safety. Only 5 of these toxic substances were restricted. Even more alarming: under TSCA, chemical manufacturers can keep the ingredients in some chemicals secret. According to EPA, nearly 20% of the 80,000 chemicals in use are secret. That’s 16,000 secret chemicals. And instead of requiring manufacturers to demonstrate that chemicals are safe before they go into use, the law said the companies had to prove actual harm in order to control or replace a dangerous chemical. In short, the law was a major failure.

Fortunately, in June 2016, a new law was passed to help close the loopholes – The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act now mandates safety reviews for chemicals in active commerce, requires a safety finding for new chemicals before they can enter the market and makes information about chemicals more accessible to the public. These seem like no-brainers, right? It’s certainly about time. But the protection offered by this new law may take years if not decades to trickle down into commerce and ensure our protection.

The health effects of some of these chemicals is alarming.

Different chemicals have different effects on different people depending not only on the specific chemical but also on the amount, timing, duration, and pattern of exposure to that chemical. They can cause direct damage to the body’s organs (including the brain), bones, blood, heart, muscles, nerves, the reproductive systems… you get the gist.

For example, dioxin is a carcinogen and fetal exposures to dioxin interfere with normal development, including the immune system. And fetal exposure to flame retardants known as PCBs can cause behavioral and cognition problems.

Some experts blame body burden and the exposure to harmful everyday chemicals for rising rates of asthma, cancer (particularly childhood, breast, and reproductive cancers), birth defects, infertility, and developmental disorders.

So here’s the big question: What can we do!?

We need to take matters into our own hands by educating and protecting ourselves – we need to be informed consumers and make safer choices for our personal health and the health of our families. That’s where Body Unburdened comes in — it’s my goal to help you do just that.

I love my car and computer and will not be jumping off the grid anytime soon. I also like to wear makeup and for my home to stay nice and clean. You can live a normal life using healthier, non-toxic or less-toxic alternatives to conventional items, and this blog-of-mine is meant to help show you how.