Even if you’re making great choices, it’s almost impossible to avoid chemicals in food, air, and water. The good news is that experts say much of our chemical intake is purged naturally within just a few hours.
Some of the more hazardous chemicals stick around, and efforts like detox diets, soaking in ionized water, and purging the colon may not work as advertised.
"There is very little hard scientific data to support that these cleansing tools eliminate significant levels of these chemicals," says Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Studies, in a recent Washington Post article.
There may be trace amounts of dozens, or even hundreds of toxic chemicals in our systems, but their presence doesn’t always lead to health problems.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tests blood and urine samples in thousands of people as part of its ongoing public health surveys. Almost all of the participants had measurable levels of Bisphenol A, perchlorate, perfluorinated chemicals, and acrylamide.
So what can be done? Avoiding exposure and being careful about what you put in and on your body is still the best way to mitigate the risk.
"Don't lose sleep over it, but be aware of it,” says Steven Phillips of the National Library of Medicine, which runs Tox Town (http://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/) — a website that educates about environmental health concerns and toxic chemicals where you work, live, and play.