Science makes our life more and more convenient. For example, bactericide keeps our body clean, non stick pot makes washing dishes easy, plastic tableware can be discarded at any time, and fireproof cloth is safer. But they are like a double-edged sword, which is quietly harming our health when providing us with convenience. In addition, in order to enjoy the convenience, the pollution of modern society to the environment also makes us unable to avoid the health hazards such as heavy metals.
1. Burnt food, potential toxicity: causing cancer
The coffee made by roasted coffee beans is the favorite of many people, and some people like to eat a little burnt toast, which may damage your health. Acrylamide can cause cancer in rodents, and many burnt foods contain high levels of acrylamide.
When carbohydrate content of food in baking, frying, it will produce acrylamide. This chemical is easily soluble in water, so it is easily absorbed by the intestine. Animal experiments have shown that acrylamide may cause cancer. This may be because it can form a substance in our body called epoxypropamide, which is a human carcinogen.
Chips, Cereals, biscuits and bread all contain acrylamide, according to the European Food Safety Agency's list of contaminated foods. In 2014, the European Food Safety Agency wrote in a draft: the intake of acrylamide may increase the risk of cancer, coffee, fried potatoes or baked potatoes are harmful food. In addition, a study from Stockholm University in Sweden shows that pregnant women who eat a large amount of acrylamide will have a lighter baby.
2. non stick pot, potential toxicity: lead to thyroid disease, improve cholesterol level
Because of the invention of perfluorocarbons, we have non stick pots, waterproof clothes and anti fouling carpets. These products with perfluorinated compounds have excellent antifouling ability, but some studies have found that perfluorinated compounds can also be detected in our blood. At present, the two most common perfluorocarbons are perfluorooctane sulfonic acid and perfluorooctane acid. These are two very stable long-chain perfluorochemicals that can stay in the natural environment for several years without decomposition. Animal experiments have shown that these stable perfluorochemicals can lead to changes in hormone levels and cancer. Human studies have also shown that these compounds may cause thyroid disease and elevated cholesterol levels.
In 2009, PFOS was banned from Stockholm Convention. In addition, eight major producers of such products around the world signed up to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program, agreeing to stop the use of PFOA by 2015. Now, many manufacturers are turning to short-chain perfluorochemicals, such as perfluorobutylsulfonates, which will be broken down in our bodies in a few days. But Swedish research has found that, while it has been kept at a low level, the concentration of PFBs in our blood doubles every six years.
It's puzzling that the number of long-chain perfluorocarbons decreased while the number of short-chain perfluorocarbons increased. Researchers at the University of Toronto, Canada, explained that other chemicals may have broken down into perfluorobutylsulfonates after entering our blood. For example, PFLP may decompose to produce PFBs, which are common in food packaging.
3. Sterilization products, potential toxicity: disturbing hormone level
Most personal cleaning and care products contain fungicides, such as oral fresheners, underarm antiperspirants, and products that treat foot fungal infections. Triclosan is the most commonly used bactericide in this kind of products, because it is effective for many kinds of bacteria, and it is added to our toothpaste, soap and cosmetics. But in 1998, a report pointed out that triclosan may cause resistance to antibiotics. In 2007, because of an animal experiment, there were also concerns that triclosan could lead to changes in hormone levels. Since then, many health supervision departments and scientific research institutes have carried out detailed research on triclosan.
Then, studies have shown that adding triclosan to hand sanitizers doesn't make our hands cleaner. Some big daily chemical companies, such as Johnson & Johnson and P & G, even decided not to use triclosan in their products. Last year, Minnesota banned triclosan. Although the European Scientific Committee on consumer safety believes that triclosan is safe for human body so far, it also recognizes that we need to know more about this substance.
4. Fireproof materials, potential toxicity: carcinogenic, endocrine disrupting
Now many furniture and cloth are fireproof, because it adds the flame retardant polybrominated diphenyl ether. PBDEs may be present in everything from appliances to beds, but some have been banned in the US and Europe because of their potential to reduce fertility and stunt child development.
Although we don't eat furniture or cloth, the data shows that the concentration of PBDEs in people's blood has been rising in North America in the past five years. Maybe the sofa or bolster uses fireproof cloth. When the body compresses them, the polybrominated diphenyl ether enters the air and is finally inhaled into the body.
Another flame retardant, tetrabromobisphenol A, also needs attention. According to the National Toxicology Program, tetrabromobisphenol A can cause cancer in rodents. Tetrabromobisphenol A can also disturb the endocrine system and affect the secretion of thyroid hormone and estrogen.
5. Packaging bag, potential toxicity: endocrine disruption
The coating of receipts, food cans, polycarbonate plastics (PC plastics) all contain bisphenol A, which acts as an artificial estrogen and affects hormone levels in mammals, including humans. According to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, 90% of the human body has bisphenol A. The National Toxicology Program of the United States also expressed concern that bisphenol A may affect children's brain and behavior. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the use of bisphenol A in baby products in 2012.
In Europe, bisphenol A has been banned from baby products since 2011, and the European Chemicals Agency has announced that bisphenol A may be toxic to the human reproductive system. Some supervision agencies believe that the current restrictions on BPA are still insufficient, and it is better to stop the use of BPA in an all-round way. In fact, bisphenol A is only one of the chemicals that may disturb the endocrine. But more and more cancer, brain, thyroid and reproductive system problems may be related to the increase of these chemicals.
6. Pesticides, potential toxicity: impact on children's development
A lot of insecticides are neurotoxins, but toxicologists at the University of Michigan say we don't have to worry about it because they don't spray our food. That said, many of the chemicals in pesticides belong to the category that needs strict management, and some supervision agencies also believe that the use of such products is too dangerous.
Insecticides have been widely used in the environment. Organic phosphates (an insecticide) can be detected in the urine of many people because many vegetables and fruits contain their residues. Although the level of pesticide residues is still within the safety range set by various supervision agencies, the overall use of pesticides has been on the rise.
Studies have shown that exposure of pregnant women to organic phosphates can lead to postnatal growth retardation and autism, as well as cardiovascular disease. A study in the lancet showed that a commonly used organophosphate pesticide can block brain development. A study by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences found that exposure to pesticides may increase the risk of diabetes and obesity.
7. Cosmetics, potential toxicity: leading to breast cancer
P-hydroxybenzoate is a kind of preservative commonly used in cosmetics. But in 2004, a study found that more than 20 samples of breast cancer tissue had p-hydroxybenzoate, so the preservative was linked to breast cancer. However, whether or not p-hydroxybenzoate can cause breast cancer has not been determined. The U.S. Food and drug administration, the European Scientific Committee on consumer safety and other regulatory agencies believe that this statement lacks credible evidence, and insist that although the preservative will disrupt the endocrine, it is safe to use in cosmetics at low doses.
In 2012, the British charity "breaking through breast cancer" also believed that there were serious loopholes in the research that showed that hydroxybenzoate caused breast cancer, which did not provide evidence that women should stay away from parabens. In animal experiments, even if exposed to high doses of p-hydroxybenzoate, animals will not have health problems, and many animal experiments have reached the same results. This also seems to confirm the safety of p-hydroxybenzoate.
Although no regulatory agency forbids manufacturers to use p-hydroxybenzoate as preservative in cosmetics, many manufacturers still stop using p-hydroxybenzoate due to public opinion and social pressure.
8. Plastic, potential toxicity: endocrine disrupting
Phthalates are usually added to plastics to increase their flexibility. In addition, phthalates are also found in the drug's icing and printing ink. As a result, many people can detect low levels of phthalates.
Is this terrible? Although phthalates may disturb our endocrine system, it is not clear whether low doses of phthalates will affect our health. If exposed to high doses of phthalate, the number of sperm in men will be reduced, and newborn babies will be deformed. Our knowledge of phthalates usually comes from animal experiments, and the results can not be copied to humans.
9. Heavy metals, potential toxicity: impact on children's development
Although we have unleaded gasoline, lead will still enter our bodies. When Europe banned the use of leaded gasoline, pipes and paint, the chance of European contact with lead was greatly reduced. Lead that can be released into the environment has entered the soil, thus into the food, and finally we eat it. Lead is found in grains, vegetables and drinking water, and it's almost impossible to avoid it.
Due to the unavoidability of lead intake, the European Food Safety Agency once set a safe intake limit of lead, and thought that it was safe to take a certain amount of lead less than a certain amount every week. But in 2010, the European Food Safety Agency changed that, saying that there was no "safe intake" of lead, even a very low dose of lead would lead to a decline in IQ, especially in infants and children.
Mercury is also a worrying heavy metal. Unlike the ubiquitous lead, however, mercury is generally concentrated in large fish, which are at the top of the marine food chain and enter other marine organisms when they prey on them. Too much mercury can cause problems in the development of infants and young children.