Frequent Asked Questions
Toxicology is an interdisciplinary area that requires knowledge in chemistry, biology, pharmacology and medicine. Toxicology studies the adverse effects of chemical substances on living organisms.
What are toxins?
Toxins are chemical substances, originating in nature or manufactured by man, capable of causing damage to living organisms.
What are environmental toxins?
Environmental toxins are any substances present in the environment that are capable of harming the health of living beings, whether through ingestion, inhalation or absorption.
What are synthetic substances?
Synthetic substances are chemically produced, i.e. manufactured substances whose active components are not found naturally in nature. The vast majority of medicines are synthetic, as are most food and cosmetic additives.
What are the effects of the contact with toxins?
The effects of toxins vary widely in different organisms, and with different toxins. These effects can range from mild allergies to death, all depending on the damage they cause to the different cells of the organism in question. Another important factor for a substance to exert considerable toxicity, and thus be considered a toxin, is the dose. The frequency of contact with a given toxin will also interfere with its effects on the cells of an organism.
What are the main diseases related to environmental toxins?
Any disease can be aggravated by toxins, but many substances present in industrialised products that surround us are also capable to contribute to disease.
There are many health problems caused or aggravated by toxic chemicals from our industrialised lifestyle, and below are some examples:
* Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders, autism, learning disabilities;
* Weight gain and difficulty in losing weight;
* Allergies, asthma, eczema;
* Scarce or contaminated breast milk;
* Low sperm count;
* Chronic fatigue;
* Chemical sensitivities;
* Heart disease;
* Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease;
* Thyroid and other hormonal diseases;
* Inflammatory bowel disease, among many others.
Which factors can influence on the toxicity of a chemical substance?
The relationship between the dose and its effects on the exposed organism is of
great importance in toxicology. Other factors that can influence chemical toxicity include route of exposure, species, age, sex, environment, and also the general health of the organism prior to the contact with the toxin.
Is there an average estimate of how many toxins an average person comes into contact daily?
The number of toxins a person is exposed depends greatly on their habits, sex, age, where they live, occupation, etc. But it is estimated that people living in industrialized countries come into contact with thousands of potentially toxic chemicals every day!
A cigarette, for example, has an average of 600 types of chemical substances, but when burned it produces more than 7000 chemicals, of which 69 are proven carcinogens (data from the American Lung Society).
U.S. researchers report that one in eight out of 82,000 ingredients used in cosmetics and personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors. According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, each year about 2000 new chemicals enter the market, and this estimate increases every year.
Where can harmful toxins be found?
Toxins that can cause harm to human (and animal) health are found today in food, drinking water, the air we breathe, cosmetics, furniture and appliances, cleaning products, household utensils, clothing, fuel, and a variety of other products and utensils that are part of our daily life.
Is it true that children are the most susceptible to environmental toxins?
Yes, children are more sensitive to toxins than adolescents and adults, and the younger they are, the more sensitive they are.
Children's vulnerability to toxins is due to several factors, these are some of them:
* A child's organs are under development, so its detoxification and excretion systems are not completely formed, which causes greater permanence and therefore greater damage caused by toxins;
* In children the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is not fully developed, this structure makes up the central nervous system and prevents the passage of chemicals between the bloodstream and the neural tissue;
* Children breathe more air, drink more water, and eat more food per gram of body weight than adults, so if water, air, or food are contaminated, it is the children who will have more toxins entering (and staying!) in their bodies.
Today's children are exposed to an increasing number of environmental toxins, and many of which have not been tested for their possible toxicity, especially in children. Therefore, we must be particularly careful in order to protect children from these potentially harmful substances.
What are the health benefits when the contact with toxins is reduced?
Even if there are no apparent health problems, reducing the contact with toxins can play a very important role in preventing many diseases such as cancer and endocrine related diseases.
When the contact with harmful substances is reduced the body starts to work better, because the body uses less energy for detoxification and elimination of toxins. Thus, there is a notable increase in energy, well-being and mood improvement.
Another example of possible consequence is the improvement in the external appearance in general, i.e., improvement in the quality of skin and hair, reduction of dark circles and acne, and improvement on other skin problems. It could also enhance the capacity of the body for losing weight, since there are endocrine disrupting toxins that affect the body's metabolism.
What are the effects of mixtures (cocktails) of potentially toxic substances on living organisms?
The effect of an individual toxin can be increased or modified if combined with other substances. Every day we are exposed to a cocktail of chemicals, and no one knows for sure about their effects on human health.
The effects of cocktails vary greatly depending on the composition of the mixture, quantities, the medium in which it is diffused, the species in question, the route of exposure, etc. The effects of most chemical mixtures that occur on a food dish (e.g. pesticide, preservative, dye) are largely unknown due to lack of studies in this area. In other words, our society does not know for sure what are the consequences of most chemical mixtures on the health of humans, animals or the environment.
What are the main socio-environmental consequences of the indiscriminate use of pesticides?
The indiscriminate use of pesticides leads to the contamination of food, and surface and underground water bodies, including groundwater. It also causes soil impoverishment and the mortality of birds, fish, mammals and insects. It promotes the emergence of pests resistant to pesticides, and causes human and animal poisoning, as well as other serious risks to public health.
What are the consequences of pesticide use for human health?
Agrochemicals are poisons and do not only affect the "pests" to which they are directed. Because they are toxic substances (many are neurotoxins!) the exposure to pesticides can cause a range of effects on human health, from respiratory problems to cancer.
The consumer of products produced with pesticides suffers from reduced health and well-being at first. But over the years, the ingestion of food containing pesticides is a risk factor in the insurgence of a series of very serious and common diseases today.
Among those most affected are farmers and foresters who have direct contact with pesticides, and populations living near areas of conventional agricultural production. Exposure can also occur through the treatment of wood with preservatives, in the treatment of boats with anti-fouling agents, and in the treatment of cattle with anti-parasitic preparations, for example.
Is it true that pesticides are used in cosmetics and toiletries? Which are the most used?
There are pesticide residues in many ingredients used in cosmetics, such as oils, vegetable waxes, and animal products such as honey and milk. But there are also agricultural pesticides purposely placed on personal hygiene products because of their bactericidal, fungicidal and/or insect repellent action. A pesticide widely used in personal care items is triclosan (banned in the EU and restricted in the USA), but present in toothpastes, soaps, shampoos, perfumes and other products sold elsewhere.
Another example of pesticide found in cosmetics is hexachlorophene (also banned in the USA), used as a disinfectant in soaps, bath oils and detergents. But in crops it acts as fungicide, bactericide and acaricide.
Read the label of the products in your bathroom, because chances are high that you find these toxins as active ingredients in your personal hygiene products.
Even after it has been established that certain substances cause damage to human health, why are they still on the market?
Despite the existence of thousands of academic articles showing the connection of our exposure to toxic chemicals and a wide range of diseases, the diffusion of this information is not efficient, and there is a very large gap between science and legislation. Therefore, the most efficient way to protect ourselves from harmful toxins is to seek information!
What are endocrine disrupters?
The term endocrine disruptor refers to substances that (even in minute doses) can interfere with the action of hormones and the hormonal balance. Hormones are chemical messengers of the body, and are needed to regulate a number of functions, such as growth and reproduction.
One of the biggest problems related to certain toxins is that they can exert an effect on the endocrine system even in very low concentrations. The effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals on the hormonal balance can cause:
* Reduction of semen quality with consequent decrease in fertility;
* Genitals malformation;
* Testicular and prostate cancer;
* Early puberty;
* Appearance of cysts in the ovaries and uterus abnormalities;
* Breast cancer;
* Pregnancy complications and abortions;
* Decrease in fertility;
* Neurological disorders, especially developmental disorders;
* Degenerative diseases of the brain, such as Parkinson's disease;
* Hyper or hypothyroidism and thyroid tumors.
What are the human groups most exposed to toxic chemicals?
All of us are exposed to potentially toxic chemicals, but there are groups receiving a much greater burden due to their habits or occupations. See below a few examples.
Among other human groups, rural producers and populations living near places where mainstream agricultural crops exist are greatly affected by chemicals used in this modality of food production. This group is propitious to develop several types of cancer, including childhood cancer, skin and respiratory diseases, low fertility in both sexes and difficulties in conceiving, depression and high suicide rates, among other problems.
Another group greatly affected by toxins is the frequent attendants of beauty salons, as well as their employees. This group often presents health problems related to toxic chemicals used in this sector. Hairdressers use a wide range of chemical products, including hair dyes, solvents, straighteners, and bleaches. While manicure products have ingredients such as toluene, plasticisers, formaldehyde and a range of artificial dyes. The vast majority of products used in beauty salons contains potentially toxic ingredients, which can affect the health of those who remain there, in one way or another. Toluene, for example, an industrial solvent widely used in beauty salons, if inhaled during pregnancy can lead to delayed foetal growth, premature birth and birth defects.
It is not necessary to completely avoid beauty parlors, since there are ways to minimize exposure to toxins that are harmful to health. In case you don't know how to do it, get in touch with us. We will be happy to help you.
What is the difference between acute and chronic toxicity?
Acute toxicity refers to harmful or lethal effects after a single episode of ingestion, inhalation, or contact with the skin. In this case, symptoms are evident soon after exposure or may appear within 48 hours. They may present themselves as:
* Respiratory tract irritation;
* Sore throat and/or cough;
* Allergic sensitization;
* Eye and/or skin irritation;
* Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea;
* Headache and loss of consciousness;
* Extreme weakness, convulsions and/or death.
Long-term (or chronic) toxicity refers to lower and repeated doses. For example, pesticides can cause harmful effects over a prolonged period, after repeated or continuous exposure at low levels. Low doses do not always cause immediate effects, but over time they can cause very serious diseases.
Long-term exposure to pesticides has been associated with:
* Development of Parkinson's disease;
* Depression and anxiety;
* Cancer, including leukaemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma;
* Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, among others.
What do the word Verti mean?
Verti comes from Latin and means change of direction.
I have cancer cases in my family and there are toxic products that can influence in the insurgence of this disease, but I don't know how to protect myself. Where should I start?
The prevention of diseases such as cancer is the key, and it has been proven that many toxins can trigger cancer and other diseases. But there are ways to avoid toxins, one of them is by changing habits. Here are some tips:
* Find out which toxins are more harmful to health and avoid them as much as possible;
* Read the labels of the products and avoid buying the items with potentially harmful ingredients;
* Subscribe to our mailing list or follow us on social media to receive tips on how to protect yourself. For more specific information on your case, please contact us.