Environmental Toxins

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Latest Edit: Iva Lloyd, ND 2014-02-17 (EDT)

Environmental Toxins is a broad term to describe toxins in the air, water and/or food supply that are known or suspected to cause a number of diseases and conditions. There are currently over 80,000 chemicals used in North America contributing to a large increase in the amount of environmental toxins that one is exposed to. Many of these chemicals and toxins have been designed for convenience and to improve profitability without thought of their long-term effects on human health and the environment. It has been stated that 90% of all chronic and serious illness could be prevented if we were able to eliminate 600 of the most dangerous environmental toxins.[1]

Common Environmental Toxins

Article Genetics and Environmental Toxins: Xenobiotic-induced illnesses associated with single nucleotide polymorphisms of cytochrome P450 and conjugation enzymes, Vital Link; 2008 Fall
For further information on the sources and associated health risks visit the page on Heavy Metals.
For further information on the sources and associated health risks visit the page on Environmental Chemicals.
  • Other Environmental Toxins

Associated Symptoms and Conditions

Environmental toxins can affect every organ and system of the body and contribute to a number of symptoms including:

  • General Symptoms
  • chronic or progressive neurological problems such as numbness and tingling
  • alteration in cognitive abilities – “brain fog” (often you may indicate a specific spot on your head that feels abnormal) or neuro-cognitive difficulties (speech, reasoning, focus)
  • ADD, ADHD, concentration, focus and/or memory concerns
  • Autism, ADD, mental retardation, and cerebral palsy have been linked to environmental toxins such as lead, arsenic, toluene, PCBs and methylmercury.[2]
  • dementia and delayed reaction and mental processing
  • psychological problems and mood alterations (depression, anger, nervousness, emotional instability, etc)
  • fibroids, cysts on reproductive organs
  • changes in temperature perception, sweating or flushing
  • hormone changes such as PMS, menopausal symptoms, alternations in hormone levels
  • Reproductive concerns, premature births and birth defects
impaired motor function, loss of balance or coordination
abnormal gait, posture, or movements
  • muscle and joint pain
  • osteoporosis and other bone disorders

Total Body Burden

Total body burden, also known as environmental toxic load is a term that is used to describe the accumulation of chemicals and toxins in the body (less the minerals available to neutralize them).

  • These substances accumulate as a result of the food you eat, what you drink, the air you breathe, the products you use on our skin and in your home and garden.
  • They also accumulate based on the products used in businesses and industry such as plastics of various kinds, fire retardants and industrial chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides and bleaching materials and those that exist in the environment at large.
  • Your body burden is affected by your exposure and your body’s ability to assimilate and excrete the toxins.
  • Excretion is highly variable and determined by an individual’s genetics, nutritional status, antibiotic use, lifestyle and total toxic load.
Article A heavy load: an overview of the toxic burden of the average Canadian, Vital Link; 2008 Summer
  • An environmental toxic burden is exhibited when the level of net retention exceeds physiological tolerance.
  • As the body is unable to remove many of the inorganic toxic chemicals and heavy metals on its own, the burden that these compounds are having on health is a major problem.

Testing for Environmental Toxins

There are many different ways to test for environmental toxins. The best way, depends on the type of toxin and the health of the individual. Some of the most common ways include:


  1. World Health Organization www.who.int
  2. Grandjean P, Landrigan PJ. Developmental neurotoxicity of industrial chemicals. Lancet;2006 Dec 16;368(9553):2167-78. PMID: 17174709.