Environmental Hazards and Disease

Conspiracy theorists have long though that major diseases are caused by environmental issues such as chemicals that corporations are knowingly releasing on the unsuspecting public.

It turns out they may be half right.

“Business Insider” published an article by Aria Bendix today on chemicals in the home that may be related to cancer, autism and reproductive issues. From an interview with a scientist at New York University, Dr. Leonardo Trasande,

“There is increasing and accelerating evidence that synthetic chemicals commonly found in the home contribute to disease and disability.”(1)

The chemicals suspects of causing the greatest harm are:

  • Pesticides, which may cause certain cancers and autism risks in children.
  • Phthalates, which were banned in children’s toys and related products in 2008 in the US but continue to be used in making other products. They are typically found in durable, hard plastics and products including vinyl flooring, shower curtains, detergents, nail polish, hair sprays, shampoos and perfumes. The European Union bans this chemical entirely; the US doesn’t.
  • Bisphenol A, which resides in water bottles and food packaging. The FDA says its safe, the EU and scientists disagree. The EU issued new rules in February 2018 banning the use of the product in any foods consumed by infants and young children.(3)
  • Flame retardants used in furniture, electronics, carpets and building materials, and often a major component of household dust. They are associated with such issues as thyroid cancer, ADHD, slower brain development in children, allergies and asthma.

Frankly, most of the information in the Business Insider article is old news. What the author didn’t know is that an article would appear in Science Daily today linking a herbicide with Parkinson’s Disease. The herbicide is paraquat, now banned in the US. When it interacts with sugar-binding proteins in the stomach — even at very low doses — it can produce the body tremors and slow motion that describe Parkinson’s. The experiment is based on animal research, and involved minute doses of the chemical.(2)

HEPA room air cleaners may be a sensible investment, especially in sleeping areas of the home. We own two.

From the conspiracy perspective, the only thing left to show was whether companies were aware of problems when the products were brought to market.

In any case, ignorance isn’t bliss. What you don’t know can kill you.


  1. Aria Bendix, “Toxic chemicals in your home could be linked to cancer, autism, and reproductive issues. Here are 4 of the most concerning.” Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/toxic-chemicals-in-your-home-2018-11
  2. L. Anselmi, C. Bove, F. H. Coleman, K. Le, M. P. Subramanian, K. Venkiteswaran, T. Subramanian, R. A. Travagli. Ingestion of subthreshold doses of environmental toxins induces ascending Parkinsonism in the rat. npj Parkinson’s Disease, 2018; 4 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41531-018-0066-0
  3. Penn State. “A toxin that travels from stomach to brain may trigger Parkinsonism.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 December 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181204131105.htm>.



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