Researchers at the University of Minnesota examined a nearby stream to determine its levels of toxicants. What they found was surprising. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs were found at detectable levels, apparently being released by the sewage treatment facility. This included drugs such as anti-convulsants, anti-depressants, and steroid hormones, but also environmental toxins such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
The truth is, these compounds, along with the many other chemicals being leached into our environment at very low levels, have known and unknown effects on human health.
Many attribute the decline in fertility over the past 40 years has been attributed to these "contaminants", often classified as EDCs or endocrine disrupting chemicals. An example of these include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which, despite being banned in 1979, still linger in our soil and water. Once inside the body, they mimic estrogen and other hormones, and studies show a relationship between EDCs and male infertility, endometriosis, recurrent miscarriages, and even hormonal cancers.
What can you do?
Reduce your PCB and contaminant exposure at home as much as possible. Here are some tips:
1. Take high quality fish oil supplements that are screened for possible contaminants
2. If you consume animal products, ensure that they are organic sources of dairy and grass-fed grass-finished meat
3. Consume organic fruits and vegetables, especially the "Dirty Dozen"
4. Avoid eating fish that are heavily contaminated, such as tuna and swordfish (the complete list here)
5. Ensure adequate fiber intake. Fiber binds up hormones and EDCs to allow for better elimination
Contaminants are present in the environment, their role is unknown, and they could be a threat to your health. Thankfully, there are steps that you may take to reduce your contaminant exposure and improve your health.