The first inventory of its kind has found that hundreds of cancer-causing chemicals are building up in the bodies of Americans.
The analysis from Environmental Working Group (EWG), based on more than 1,000 biomonitoring studies—which measure the burden of certain chemicals present in the human body—and other research by government agencies and independent scientists, found that up to 420 chemicals known or likely to cause cancer have been detected in blood, urine, hair, and other human samples.
“The presence of a toxic chemical in our bodies does not necessarily mean it will cause harm, but this report details the astounding number of carcinogens we are exposed to in almost every part of life that are building up in our systems,” said Curt DellaValle, author of the report and a senior scientist at EWG.
According to the report, Pollution in People, carcinogens detected in biomonitoring studies come from diverse sources, including:
- Industrial chemicals
- Commercial products including flame retardants in furniture and other items; dry cleaning chemicals; styrene in plastics; nonstick, waterproof and grease-resistant chemicals in cookware, clothing and food wrappers; other chemicals in paints and hair coloring; and flavoring and fragrance ingredients
- Heavy metals
- Byproducts of combustion, heating and disinfection
“Many of the carcinogens this study documents in people find their way into our bodies through food, air, water, and consumer products every day,” added EWG president Ken Cook. “Dozens of them show up in human umbilical cord blood—which means Americans are exposed to carcinogens before they’ve left the womb.”
EWG, which is known for its health guides and online consumer tools to help people avoid toxic cancer-causing chemicals in their daily lives, said the findings underscored the need for greater public awareness of our everyday exposure as well as urgent action on the part of elected officials.
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