National Edition

How new research on chemicals in household products gives new meaning to 'at-risk kids'

Published: Friday, March 7 2014 9:35 a.m. MST

"Sleeping is a third of our lives, and it's supposed to be a restorative state. But it's not if we're breathing chemicals," she says. "It's really important for kids, because they sleep even more than we do."

She buys certified organic sheets for her own family and recommends looking for bedding, rugs, and paint that have stringent certifications like GreenGuard Gold certification, which tests products for 10,000 chemicals with an independent third-party organization. Organic cotton can make a difference because cotton is a big pesticide crop and there are likely residues in cotton textiles "just like in the food we eat," she says.

Innovation and regulation

It's easy to assume the EPA protects us from harmful chemicals, but due to regulatory law, it's difficult to take action against dangerous chemicals and the companies that produce them, even those known to cause cancer or to have other serious effects. The system is "innocent until proven guilty," as Masepohl describes it. "It flies in the face of the precautionary principle that things are proven safe before they're released to the public."

Lonky and Graziano are less sure that the dosages are harmless. The chemical lobby is powerful and regulation is slow, says Lonky, and if there are 84,000 industrial chemicals in our environment now according to the EPA, eradicating them can only be a part of the solution. He notes that when he was young, in the 1950s, everyone was born at "zero," meaning with no chemicals in their bodies. "Now, no one is born at zero — everyone is born with chemicals that have been passed to them through the placental barrier from their mother," he says. We have yet to see what happens when those chemicals compound from one generation to the next, he says.

Lonky's hope is not so much for eradication, but innovation — methods for detoxifying our bodies, especially young men and women of childbearing age.

So far, chelating agents, substances that are taken in pill form or intravenously to remove heavy metals from the body, have been met with controversy.

For example, Zeolite minerals like clinoptilolite and EDTA, a popular chelating detoxifier, are not FDA approved and more research is needed to determine their efficacy.

Still, Lonky would like to see enterprising young people tackle the problem of detoxification in novel ways. "I'm not a doomsdayer," he said, before running off to play pirates with his grandson. "There's a market opportunity there — for developing diet, new ways of life, products that will bind to chemicals and pull them safely from our bodies. I'm hopeful."

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Email: laneanderson@deseretnews.com

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