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How Fast Can Children Detoxify from PCBs?

Based on the half-life of industrial pollutants children may be exposed to in the womb or at the breast, how many years does it take for them to detoxify their bodies (assuming they’re brought up on a healthy diet)?

October 31, 2012 |
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Acknowledgements

Images thanks to: hall.chris25, Stephen Cannon, and imcountingufoz.

Transcript

Though mothers continue to expose their babies to toxic pollutants, breast is still always best. But say earlier in life, we were, God forbid, eating, the Standard American diet and end up breastfeeding a certain amount of toxic waste to our child. If from then on out, after the birth or weaning of our child, we swear we’ve learned our lesson, we want to start a fresh page in our lives, start to eat healthy, and feed our new child only the best. How long might it take our children to shed the industrial toxins they may have gotten from us in the womb or from the breast?

A recent study followed a cohort of children exposed at birth to PCBs from their mothers tested at age 8 and then again at age 12 to get a sense of the half life of these toxins within the body. Depending on which chemical pollutant the estimated half lives ranged from about 4 years to 9 years, so if our children eat a healthy diet, doesn’t go play around in any toxic waste dumps, by the time they’re between 20 and 45 years of age they will have eliminated more than 95% of the PCB inheritance we gave them at birth.

A problem they found in doing the study, though, is that they had to throw out a lot of data, exclude children who had obvious PCB reuptakes because their levels were even higher at age 12 than 8, so regardless what kind of start our children got, it’s never too late to improve our families’ diets to prevent additional intakes of these pollutants into their bodies.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

This is the eighth video in a series on dietary exposure to industrial pollutants. I started out with the CDC Report on Environmental Chemical Exposure and the President’s Cancer Panel Report on Environmental Risk describing the problem. Then I covered pesticides in bamboo shoots, plastics chemicals affecting sexual function, flame retardant chemicals building up in human breast tissue, and how women are exposed. In yesterday’s NutritionFacts.org video-of-the-day DDT in Umbilical Cord Blood I explored how much pesticide pollution we may be passing along to the next generation. How long does it take to detoxify from PBDEs? See Flame Retardant Chemical Contamination. As I note in Industrial Pollutants in Vegans, eating low on the food chain reduces but doesn't eliminate one's risk.

For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: Protecting Our Babies From PollutantsHow To Reduce Dietary Antibiotic IntakeAvoid Cooked Meat CarcinogensHeading Shrinking from Grilling Meat, and Schoolchildren Should Drink More Water 

If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/ Michael Greger M.D.

    This is the eighth video in a series on dietary exposure to industrial pollutants. I started out with the CDC Report on Environmental Chemical Exposure and the President’s Cancer Panel Report on Environmental Risk describing the problem. Then I covered pesticides in bamboo shoots, plastics chemicals affecting sexual function, flame retardant chemicals building up in human breast tissue, and how women are exposed. In yesterday’s NutritionFacts.org video-of-the-day DDT in Umbilical Cord Blood I explored how much pesticide pollution we may be passing along to the next generation. How long does it take to detoxify from PBDEs? See Flame Retardant Chemical Contamination. As I note in Industrial Pollutants in Vegans, eating low on the food chain reduces but doesn’t eliminate one’s risk.
     
    If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

  • HemoDynamic, M.D.

    Hope at last!
    Hope at last! 
    Thank God Almighty there’s Hope at last!

    Paraphrased from MLK.

    The glimmer of Hope lights our path–Eat varied Whole Food, Non-GMO, Plant-Based foods! 
    Then maybe, just maybe, we will be able to Free ourselves from our toxic bondage.

    It’s nice to see the positive.  Maybe now I can stop my St. John’s Wort.

  • Thea

    It’s nice to put a positive spin on this (re: “…never to late…”), but I found the numbers of how long it takes to get rid of these toxins to be shockingly long.  Oh dear.

    • Jo

      Actually, I used the word frightening to myself just now.

  • HemoDynamic, M.D.

    (Picture #1) Recipe!
    Salad with Peruvian Dressing:  One of my patients taught me this and it’s delicious!
    Salad of your choice.  Add juice of one half Lime and a Pinch of Salt. That’s it!
     For those Veganese people out there use a dash of Iodized Salt.

    (Picture #2)  Disco Doc wishes you a Happy Halloween!

    (Picture #3)  Halloween morning sunrise.  Appropriately eerie!

    Enjoy!

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      Interestingly Discus has a size limit to the pics that are uploaded. 

      So here is the Sunrise, resized to half size but still not fully realized.

    • Thea

       You can eat and disco your way to good health while watching the sunrise.  Happy Halloween!

    • Veganrunner

      too cute. love the trees.

    • Hathor42

      I’ll have to try that dressing (even though I never encountered such a thing when I visited Peru, alas).  I LOVE limes.  Frequently we’ve been requesting lemon juice in restaurants if they don’t have straight balsalmic vinegar available–or the waitstaff can’t understand the difference between vinegar and vinagrette.

      • HemoDynamic, M.D.

        It’s sure delicious!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WPKL2M6YESSYLXPHP36OJ7HBWM Richard

    Interesting to see something about PCB’s, an environmentally persistent chemical. However, banned in first-world countries for about a generation. Transfer through breast feeding was primarily by the mother eating contaminated fish. Suggest reading the Wiki monograph for further discussion:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polychlorinated_biphenyl

  • Mitch

    I can’t find anything in your search archives about okra. I love it . Is it good or bad for me.