Yes, “poisons” – “toxics” is too weak a word. The distinction is whether a person dies quickly from a single dose of a poison, such as arsenic, or dies slowly from very, very small doses of toxics that continuously seep into our bodies from the environment.
Dieing prematurely is probably a better description than dieing slowly. However, both are appropriate descriptions for cancer – the dreaded and seldom curable disease. We have a word for this kind of a poison/toxic: a carcinogen.
But we lack words for the other health-degrading conditions caused by ubiquitous toxic substances that damage our hormone systems, our immune systems, our reproductive systems, and our nervous systems. Perhaps the creation and use of such words would wake us up to the dangers that we, and especially pregnant women, face.
You may wonder, “Why is our environment flooded with hundreds of poisonous substances?” There are several answers. Some are unintentional by products; others are intentionally designed to accomplish a purpose, for example, make a better plastic. Chemists are accomplished at designing new molecules that do a particular task, and chemical engineers are accomplished at building manufacturing processes to economically make large volumes of the new molecules. Let’s review these intentionally made chemicals.
• Phthalates, for vinyl leather and children’s squeeze toys
• Bisphenol-A (BPA), for some plastics ware and coating on interior of food cans
• Flame retardants, in bedding and furniture foam cushioning
• Fluorinate molecules (PFOA), on carpeting and microwave popcorn bags
• Insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides, on fruit and vegetables
All these substances achieve their intended purposes, but they are also insidious poisons that degrade our health and shorten our lives.
Unintended toxic substances are:
• Ozone, in the smog of major cities world-wide
• Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), in diesel soot from trucks, tractors, and trains
• Mercury, from coal-fired power plants
• Dioxins, from waste incinerators that decompose PVC waste plastics
This has been a review of sorts; for detailed information see earlier articles.
What is the message? Stay awake to the subtle dangers around you, and act to avoid exposures.