Autism and the Environment 101: Online Course 10

A Toxic Body Burden

Many kinds of toxins are found in our environment. Some occur naturally, and others are produced by industry and build up in the environment due to releases during production, industrial and consumer use. Where do these toxins go? They go to many places, including our bodies. Researchers at the Environmental Working Group tested the blood from umbilical cords of 10 newborn babies and found the presence of 287 of 413 industrial compounds, pollutants and other chemicals tested. These chemicals are linked to brain and nervous system toxicity, cancer, birth defects and developmental delays. Three examples of substances that are linked to cancer, birth defects and developmental issues include:

  • heavy metals (in the air)
  • polybrominated diphenyl ethers (in flame retardant products)
  • perfluorinated chemicals (in cooking pan and fabric protectors)

Many other types of chemicals are also hazardous. These include many pesticides, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), and plasticizers (like bisphenol-A).

More and more studies are showing that every one of us, from birth through the life course, is walking around with dozens or even hundreds of chemicals in our bodies. There is probably no longer any place on earth that is free of this kind of pollution.

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