You may be as confused as I was when you first read body pollution. You may have taken a guess a second ago and are waiting for me to confirm it.
Don’t worry, I’ll get right to it.
Body pollution is the selective bunch of actions and objects, controllable or not, that are potentially harmful to your health. That includes the over-consumption of junk food, second-hand smoking, food additives, etc.
It’s crucial to point out that body pollution is no joke. It’s a serious matter that needs to be addressed, dissected and avoided. So, for the sake of our collective health, I’ll be walking you through the different causes of body pollution you may have never thought of, their effects on your body, and the possible solutions to slow down your aging process.
1. Causes of body pollution
The causes of body pollution are numerous. Therefore, we’ll classify them under the three main pollution categories: air, water, and soil.
It is estimated that fresh air contains 10 elements. These elements are Nitrogen, Oxygen, Argon, Carbon dioxide, Neon, Helium, Methane (CH4), Krypton, Hydrogen, and Xenon. The air gets contaminated when other substances are introduced or there’s an imbalance in the concentrations of the 10 mentioned elements.
The polluted atmosphere can contain particles, gases, or both at the same time from natural causes or man-induced.
Air Pollution can stem from:
- Industrial processes (fumes),
- Residential and small-scale commercial combustion (i.e radiators)
- Transportations (methane)
- Agriculture (nitrogen-rich fertilizers and animal waste)
Just like humans need air to live, water comes in second in the life-priorities list. Water pollution occurs when foreign chemical substances or microorganisms, referred to as contaminants by The Safe Drinking Water Act, infect bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, oceans, etc.
Contaminants are a broad term used to describe any molecule that isn’t water. Some are harmful, while others are harmless to human health.
These contaminants are split into 4 categories according to the Contaminant Candidate List (CCL)
- Physical contaminants: shrapnel, sediments, etc.
- Chemical contaminants: bleach, nitrogen, pesticides, nitrogen, etc.
- Biological contaminants: microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc.)
- Radiological contaminants: unstable chemical elements (i.e plutonium and uranium)
The human body shuts off after a few minutes of asphyxiation. It stops functioning after a few days without water, and it dies after a couple of weeks without food. This brings us to the third cause of body pollution; soil pollution.
It occurs when the earth is overwhelmed with substances that have the potential to harm living beings; plants, animals, and humans.
These substances include: Heavy metals (Cadmium, Mercury, etc…), viruses/microorganisms, salts, radioactive materials
2. Effects of body pollution on the body
Pollution in the environment enters our bodies through air, food, and water. The contaminants within these vital substances cause ramifications within our 8 systems, majorly on our digestive system, immune system, and cardiovascular system.
Effects of air pollution on the body
Key pollutants that have major harmful causes on the body have been identified. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and Particulate Matter make up a good portion of urban air pollution.
Fuel combustion is the main contributor to both these contaminants polluting the air. Particulate matter refers to a mixture of solid and liquid particles of diverse features (size, composition, shape, etc.) either emitted directly in the air or is the spawn of chemical reactions in the atmosphere.
Other air pollutants include: Carbon Monoxide (CO), Ozone (O3), Ammonia (NH3), and Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)
In the UK, air pollution is the cause of around 36.000 deaths. In 2010, 223.000 deaths from air pollution were registered worldwide. Let that sink in. It is the cause of asthma, stroke, pregnancy loss, and even cancer.
We breathe through our noses/mouths. The air we inhale circulates through our respiratory system. Our lungs are basically filters. They exchange gas entering the body (Oxygen enters, Carbon Dioxide leaves).
Scientists suspect that particulate matter has the ability to integrate inside the DNA and cause mutations. The current body of research is not substantial enough to further understand the mechanisms through which these particles compromise the integrity of our DNA.
However, based on collective research linking PM to cancer, the World Health Organization declared the air pollutant as a carcinogen.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency “asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways in which many cell types play a role, in particular mast cells, eosinophils, and T lymphocytes.”
Mast Cells, eosinophils, and T lymphocytes are part of the body’s artillery against foreign objects.
For people who already have asthma, it can cause a reaction with minimum concentrations, erupting the common asthmatic symptoms. To understand the extent of ozone’s effects, on warm days where the atmospheric ozone concentrations are higher than usual, clinical observations revealed that individuals attained with this respiratory disease increased the use of their inhalers.
For people who don’t have asthma, ozone can impair/shrink the functions of the lungs. It can easily find its way to the lower respiratory tract. From there, through mechanisms at the cellular level, it makes it harder to breathe. Short-term exposure can cause asthma.
A stroke can be caused by many factors, the majority of which are listed below:
Diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, heart disease, etc.
Air pollution has been added to the mixture of leading risk factors of ischemic strokes.
While the elderly or people suffering from risk factors are more prone to having a stroke, the rest of us are still subjected to air pollutant effects.
- Pregnancy complications
Miscarriages make up between 1-2 out of 10 pregnancies according to the statistics. That can be considered a high percentage after taking into account the technological advancement in health care. It is also an indication of how fragile our bodies can be when dealing with unhealthy substances like drugs, smoking, bad diet, and air pollution.
UNICEF released a study declaring that almost 17 million babies (children under the age of one) live in some of the most severely affected regions of the world, where outdoor air pollution is at least six times higher than international limits.
Despite most of these 17 million babies (12 million-ish) being from South Asia, the risk exists.
How does this happen? Airborne particles have been found to be traveling down the bloodstream and into the placenta causing dysfunctions.
- Intelligence Decrease
I kid you not. In order to quantify the severity of the issue, continuous exposure to high-pollution levels can cause damages equivalent to a loss of a whole year of education.
This IQ drop is even more critical to the elderly (people 64 years old and above).
Effects of water pollution on the body
For groundwater, fertilizers, pesticides, landfill waste, and septic systems are the main pollutants.
For surface water, the part that makes up around 70% of the planet, suffers from nutrient pollution (caused by farm wastes and fertilizers), toxins (caused by municipal and industrial waste discharges), and the rubbish individuals throw in the waters because it’s no big deal.
Water pollution, just like any other type of pollution, causes death. 1.8 million deaths were registered in 2015.
- Viral/Bacterial/Parasitic illnesses
When kept out of control, water can be easily polluted. Being the universal solvent, it is capable of dissolving more substances than any other liquid. Waterborne pathogens can sneak in from multiple sources, namely fecal pollution. Yes, you read that correctly.
- Hormonal disruptions
Known as Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, bisphenol (BpA), and other chemicals have the potential to disrupt the human endocrine system. This system overlooks hormone production, which in turn has an effect on sleep, mood, reproduction, sexual function, and the list goes on. It is also responsible for metabolism or growth or development regulation. The endocrine system is comprised of different glands (pituitary gland, thyroid gland, pancreas, adrenal glands, parathyroid glands, ovaries, and testicles).
In normal/optimal conditions, the endocrine system reacts to stimulants accordingly by secreting the appropriate hormone (i.e eating sugary food, pancreas releases insulin to break down the glucose), but it also has the machinery to regulate the spike in hormonal response (insulin levels go down to normal after a while).
These Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals disturb homeostasis and are the cause of the spur of several diseases. The danger of these chemicals lies beyond their actual effect, the latter capable of manifesting almost decades after exposure, which makes it harder to remedy the damage at an early stage.
One notable altercation is the effect these chemicals can have on women’s menstrual cycles. In the US; Women with noticeable levels of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and 1-chloro-2-[2,2-dichloro-1-(4-chlorophenyl)ethenyl]benzene (DDE) have shorter periods and lower progesterone levels.
Let’s start with a fun fact: the guardian once ran a story titled “Tap water contaminants linked with 100,000 cancer cases, US study finds”.
This study concluded that arsenic, radioactive contaminants, and disinfection byproducts found in tap water are what’s contributing to this huge number. The national attributable risk factor has been estimated to be approximately double the cumulative cancer risk for air pollution.
It has been revealed that water, despite its contaminants being at legal requirements, remains carcinogen.
The water contaminants have been proven to increase the risk of bladder, colon, kidney, and stomach cancer.
- Cardiovascular diseases
Arsenic has the potential to prompt enzymes to produce hydrogen peroxide, a compound that can instigate multiple inflammatory responses in the cells. This metal can also stick to fat cell receptors altering their metabolism in the process, which stimulate the production of plaques that can clog the arteries.
Effects of soil pollution on the body
When we mention soil pollution, we should immediately think of our food. Plants use the soil as one of their main sources of nutrients. The animals we consume rely on those plants for their own nutrition. Consequently, the contamination spreads and reaches us through contamination.
Contamination can happen through skin contact, indirect contact, or inhalation.
Surprisingly, the top cause of soil pollution seems to be the ingestion of polluted soil and not contamination.
Children are highly susceptible to some of the pollutants found in contaminated soils than adults. Their digestive system can absorb lead up to 5 times faster.
Some of the health altercations of soil pollution include:
- Itai-Itai disease
It can be caused by cadmium, a metal extracted during the mining process. It has the ability to contaminate plants. It can also pass through animals but will only affect humans after their consumption.
This disease provokes liver and kidney damage, and low bone density.
- Skeletal Fluorosis
Happens when high levels of fluoride, a micronutrient necessary for the optimal teeth health, are ingested from drinking water. This mineral accumulates in the bones over several years. After passing through the digestive system, it finds itself leaching calcium to form a salt, Calcium Fluoride. This compound has to be cleared out of the body, which results in decreased calcium concentrations in the bones, which in turn weakens them.
- Low IQ
According to the WHO “Lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children. There is no level of exposure to lead that is known to be without harmful effects.”
This heavy metal is known to neurologically impair brain development and function in children. Severe alterations are possible such as mental retardations, behavioral issues, and even death.
Chemicals like gasoline and benzene have been found to be culprits in the development of !leukemia in humans. Through scientific literature, benzene has been found to harm the bone marrow (the place where stem cells, that mature red/white blood cells, are produced).
Cadmium has the potential to cause bladder cancer, lead has been linked to esophageal cancer, and arsenic has been associated with brain cancer.
3. Solutions to avoid body pollution
Solutions to prevent/limit the effects of body pollution:
While this goes without saying, regular check-ups increase your chance of early diagnosis. Allowing body pollution to infest and prosper increases your potential to develop the diseases discussed in the section above.
Also, early diagnosis allows you to better plan for whatever altercations that may unfortunately arise. It gives you financial and legal control over your affairs and how you’d like to pursue your treatment.
A regular check-up (physicals and different diseases screenings) once a year is a safe bet
Be aware of your environment’s health risks
The people in Flint, Michigan know what kind of pollution they were facing. The contaminated water brought with it a baggage of diseases.
Knowing your environment’s risk factors is a preventive measure. It identifies the potential danger surrounding you, which gives you the opportunity to plan ahead.
It’s also helpful to know where are you getting your food and water from and the preventive measures those providers are using to keep you safe.
Properly rinse and wash your fruits and vegetables
Food contamination can happen through the ingestion of produce with traces of dirt still on them. Those traces of dirt can contain different bacteria/parasites/viruses or harmful chemicals.
To avoid any unwanted altercations, properly rinsing your fruits and vegetables should keep you safe.
Have a healthy diet
This one is pretty obvious. If one apple a day, keeps the doctor away, a healthy diet makes you forget that doctors exist (unless you suffer a physical injury).
Jokes aside, providing your body with the necessary combination of macro/micronutrients is of paramount importance to your entire health. All of your 8 systems depend on proper nutrition for optimal function. Failing to provide certain minerals or vitamins, for example, paves the way for body pollution to easily attack your systems. It’s like having injured soldiers for an army.
Practice practical habits
Eating healthy, exercising regularly, meditating, reading, keeping a clean environment are all practical habits that help you fight body pollution.
Some of those habits have the ability to boost your bodily systems so they can do a better job of keeping you healthy and disease-free.
Schedule a FREE “Health and Beauty Coaching Session Made Easy and Fun” to learn more how you can cleanse or detox from various body pollution.