Toxicologist Steven G. Gilbert, PhD, DABT, a regular guest who is helping us understand the toxicity of common chemicals we may be frequently exposed to. Dr. Gilbert is Director and Founder of the Institute of Neurotoxicology and author of A Small Dose of Toxicology- The Health Effects of Common Chemicals.He received his Ph.D. in Toxicology in 1986 from the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, is a Diplomat of American Board of Toxicology, and an Affiliate Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington. His research has focused on neurobehavioral effects of low-level exposure to lead and mercury on the developing nervous system. Dr. Gilbert has an extensive website about toxicology called Toxipedia, which includes a suite of sites that put scientific information in the context of history, society, and culture. www.toxipedia.org
LISTEN TO OTHER SHOWS WITH STEVEN G. GILBERT, PhD, DABT
- Toxics in the Air We Breathe—Indoors and Outdoors—and How it Affects Our Health
- Toxic Solvents and Vapors
- How Pesticides Can Harm Your Health
- Why Do People Doubt the Science Behind Toxics?
- There is No Safe Level for Lead Exposure
- Fewer Chemicals Make Healthier Babies
- Why We Shouldn’t Have Nuclear Power Plants
- How Mercury Affects Your Health
- Persistant Bioaccumulative Toxicants
- The Dangers of Exposure to Radiation and How to Protect Yourself
- Toxics Throughout History—Exposure to Toxic Substances is Not New
- The Ethics of Toxics
- How to Determine Your Risk of Harm From an Exposure to a Toxic Chemical
- The Basic Principles of Toxicology
- Meet a Toxicologist
TOXIC FREE TALK RADIO
How Endocrine Disruptors Disrupt Our Endocrine System
Host: Debra Lynn Dadd
Guest: Steven Gilbert, PhD, DABT
Date of Broadcast: May 20, 2014
DEBRA: Hi, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. And this is Toxic Free Talk Radio where we talk about How to Thrive in a Toxic World and Live Toxic Free. Today is Tuesday, May 20th 2014. I’m here in Clearwater, Florida, on an early beautiful summer day. And my guest today is toxicologist, Dr. Steven Gilbert PhD, DABT who has been in on this show so many times.
If you go to ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com, underneath today’s description of the show, I actually put links to all of his shows. He’s been on seven times. He’s been on six times. This show is number seven that he’s done. I think that he is the most frequent guest on this show, but I think one of the most important because he talks with us about why toxic chemicals are toxic and where they are and what they do to our bodies and why we need to be concerned about them.
This is the information that we all need to have. What are the chemicals that we need to be watching out for?
He is the Director and Founder of the Institute for Neurotoxicology and author of A Small Dose of Toxicology: The Health Effects of Common Chemicals which is I think that every single person needs to have. It’s free. You can go to his website and download it. It’s easy to read. It tells you all the basics of toxicology and the basic toxic chemicals that we need to be concerned about.
So his website is Toxipedia.org. You can go there and download A Small Dose of Toxicology. And I am going to remind you this all throughout the show because I think it’s so important for you to get this book—and especially, it’s free. Just go download it and start learning this stuff. It’s important because everything, all these things are toxic in our world.
Hi, Dr. Gilbert.
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: Hi, Debra. Nice to hear you this morning. I didn’t know that I’ve been on this show that many times.
DEBRA: I didn’t either until I counted it up.
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: That’s great.
DEBRA: So, you got the award for most frequent guest and I hope many more. We will never run out of things to talk about.
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: It really is. Toxicology is a broad field. There’s a lot to talk about.
DEBRA: There is, there is. So, today we are going to talk about endocrine disruptors.
So would you start out by explaining what are endocrine system is? I know that one of the things that I discovered a few years ago when I was writing my most recent book, Toxic Free is that I realized that toxic chemicals now are known to affect every body system.
And as I was writing about that, I realized that I didn’t really know what my body systems were. Not only could I not list them, I really didn’t know what was involved in each one of them. And the endocrine system really is one of the most complex—well, all of our body’s systems are essential, but the endocrine system is responsible for a lot of our everyday activities that we don’t like to be without.
So, tell us what the endocrine system does.
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: You’re really right. The endocrine system is very complex and it’s responsible of producing low doses of chemicals. So, you could think about the blood system as distributing the endocrine chemicals. So, our blood supply distributes these chemicals out that are produced by different glands in our body.
For example, ovaries in the female produce progesterone and estrogen which are incredibly important for pregnancy and have a range of effects on wellness and sexual characteristic. It’s the same with testosterone which is produced by the testes in male. It’s responsible for muscle mass, bone density and sexual maturation. So those are just two examples.
Another good one here that people have probably heard of is insulin. It’s produced by the pancreas. It’s very important for regulating of glucose.
We have a number of other glands. The adrenal glands, thyroid, pituitary, pineal glands are just a few of the other ones that are really incredibly important in our endocrine system.
Now, the challenge is when we disrupt that system. And that is what we are going to talk about with endocrine disruptors.
DEBRA: Right. And so I want to make sure when we say the types of disorders that are associated when these glands are disrupted, then you end with things like—well, when you can’t regulate the insulin, then that’s diabetes. If your reproductive hormones are messed up, you need to go to the doctor for Viagra. It also regulates weight. And so we have this tremendous epidemic of obesity in this country. Well, that’s the endocrine system. All of these different things that are everyday things that we’re dealing with, so much of it is the endocrine system.
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: It’s very important during development. As we mature, we develop sexual characteristics. And that’s where a lot of important cell types and development is laid down, from fetal development on up to puberty. So it’s very important during that period of time because neurological disorders as well as—well, like you mentioned—weight gain or diabetes. It’s really a major framework and foundation for future disorders in our body including cancer.
DEBRA: Well, I’ve been working on this subject for—not this subject of endocrine disruptors, but the subject of toxic chemicals. I’ve been researching for more than thirty years. And I remember when I started, there wasn’t a lot of information. And my first awareness was how the toxic chemicals affected the immune system because that’s what it looked like was going on in my body.
So, in 1993, we didn’t even know about endocrine disruptors until 1993. And I remember when people first started talking about them, I could see that not only was my immune system messed up, but my endocrine system was messed up.
Everything that was wrong with my body was all related to the endocrine system, every single thing. I’m like, “Oh my God, this is it. It’s endocrine disruption.” And so I know this one first hand.
So, tell us about what happened in 1993 that made everyone aware of endocrine disruptors.
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: Well, there’s a couple of really important events that occurred in the both the ‘90s and even before that. I just want to step back before that a little bit.
We’ve learned a lot about endocrine disruptors when we tried to produce hormonal contraceptives [inaudible 00:06:56]
Some of the research started in the ‘30s. In 1939, Russell Marker developed synthetic progesterone. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the Food & Drug Administration recognized the pill. And this is really a summary of [inaudible 00:07:15] endocrine disruptor. It disrupts female fertility. And it’s had an enormous impact on our lives.
DEBRA: What kinds of things have happened to women who took the pill? I never took the pill.
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: You know, that’s a good question. When they first started using these endocrine disruptors, the estrogen and progesterone combinations, they used relatively high doses which caused blood clots in the lungs and in legs of women or some women taking these things, particularly for women that smoked. They found that they could really lower the amount of estrogen and progesterone use in a pill to very small levels because the endocrine system is so exquisitely sensitive.
DEBRA: But did those women go on, after they started to take the lower dose even, to have health effects because their endocrine systems were now imbalanced?
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: Yeah, you can say that. There is certainly an imbalance, a little bit too much stimulation. I don’t think they ever really figured out why it caused the embolism and these blood clots, disrupting the endocrine system. It’s just one of the many side-effects. So, the endocrine system is very sensitive to chemicals.
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: It’s just like when the athletes used an array of hormones and hormones supplements to increase muscle mass. Testosterone is one thing. Testosterone is used in sports events and sports enhancement.
DEBRA: There’s a really wonderful book called Our Stolen Future. And so if anybody is listening who wants to know about endocrine disruptors, that was the first book that I was aware of that came out about it. And it’s still a really good book.
And we are going to go on a break pretty soon. But when we come back, we are going to talk more about endocrine disruptors and the chemicals that harm the endocrine system.
And what’s really important about this is that it used to be that the dose made the poison. So, some poisons were not poisonous until you got up to high doses. But endocrine disruptors affect your body at very, very low doses that we are being exposed to on a daily basis. So we are going to talk more about that when we come back.
This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. And my guest today is Dr. Steven Gilbert author of A Small Dose of Toxicology. And during the break, you can rush over to his website and download it at Toxipedia.org. We’ll be right back.
A Small Dose of Toxicology. Again, I’ll tell you, it’s free. You can go to his website, Toxipedia.org, and download it. It’s got so much information including a lot of what we are talking about today.
So, I’m looking at your website which has so much information on it. And I’m on a page about endocrine disruptors, and I see this little ad from the past about DES. Do you want to tell us about DES?
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: Yes, that is a really important story in understanding endocrine disruptors. DES is diethylstilbestrol.
And I want to also mention another [inaudible 00:10:54] is BPA, Bisphenol-A which was actually first created in 1891. There’s a long history with this.
It was recognized as a very low level endocrine compound. But DES [inaudible 00:11:08] by 1938 and it was recognized as a very potent endocrine disruptor and estrogen mimic (so synthetic estrogen). And it’s used to treat miscarriages and for post-menopausal women.
So, the problem though was this was approved by the FDA in 1947 for miscarriages. And it was first studied in 1953. I want to emphasize that. It was approved at ’47. It was ’53 when they first said [inaudible 00:11:39] that it was not effective for preventing miscarriages.
And this was consumed and was regularly prescribed. The doctors thought it was good thing, so they continued to prescribe it. It was not until 1971 when the first study was published showing that the offspring of women that consumed DES had a rare form of vaginal cancer. So, this was a second generation effect of DES.
They said DES was withdrawn. But during that period, millions of young women who were over-exposed to DES had an increase risk for vaginal cancers.
So, it is really a wakeup call to very low-level exposures to an estrogen mimic. It can cause serious problems for offspring when women consumed it. And this is really a key change in toxicology when it recognized that possibility.
Along with that was the very low level effects that these compounds, in very small amounts, can cause effects which goes against toxicology’s principle of dose response—the greater the dose, the greater the response. Some of these estrogen disruptors, very small level of exposure (really sort of like a U-shaped curve) showing that very low level of exposure, there’s an effect. It sort of tapers off. And then there’s a different effect in higher doses.
So DES is really a very interesting example of cross generation effect of compound.
DEBRA: Wow, it’s so interesting to me what we’re being exposed to today. I was born in 1955 (I know that I don’t sound that old). I was born in 1955. And at that time, nobody was even thinking about these things. Yet after reading Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, I realized that when I was born, my mother was already exposed to toxic chemicals and that I was exposed in the womb. And that’s even more of a concern today because we have so many chemicals than we did in 1955.
So, even before babies were born or even before they’re conceived, the DNA has already been changed.
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: You’re absolutely right. I think the thing here that’s really concerning about endocrine disrupting chemicals is we are exposed to a broad array of chemicals that are endocrine disruptors. It’s not just one compound that’s an endocrine disruptor.
For example, Bisphenol-A, about 90% of us excrete BPA, Bisphenol-A in our urine. So we are constantly exposed to it from cash register receipts, tin can lining, from plastics. There’s just a huge array of products.
Phthalates is another one that causes endocrine disruption. We’re exposed to many forms of phthalates in fragrances, perfumes, in personal care products and fire retardants. You could just go down a list of chemicals. A lot of the pesticides are endocrine disruptors.
So, we’re exposed to really an array of these things. It starts really pre-conception for the woman and for a man too. They do cause disruption in sperm. Sperm count has been linked to endocrine disruptors.
So, it’s just a wide, wide array from pre-conception onto the development and then post-natally.
DEBRA: I recently heard over the weekend that—I am looking for the reference for this, I’m sure I’ll find one—that the Human Genome Project found that we’re not so much the product of our genes, but the product of our environment. I don’t have the number right in front of me, but it is something like very small. Less than 10% of what happens to our bodies is by our genes. And the genes can be affected by the environment. They are being affected by the environment.
When I heard that, I thought, “Well, if they are affected by the environment, what we are giving our genes are toxic chemicals which are changing their character.”
I also read that nutrition, good nutrition will improve your genes, and that it can actually improve your DNA. And so do we want to be giving those basic building blocks to our bodies? Do we want to be giving them toxic chemicals or do we want to be giving them something good like good nutrition?
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: You raise a really good point. In every good nutrition, it’s really critical using organic compounds as much as possible with fewer pesticides and pesticide contaminants. It’s really important.
And you’re really touching on the issue of epigenetics where we’re really changing the expression of DNA by exposure to these chemicals. [Inaudible 00:16:43] It changes our endocrine system in a way. So the fly or flight response is part of that system. So stress increases cortisone level which changes endocrine responses.
So it’s a very complex interrelated system that we continue to fill with and contaminate with chemicals as well as the stressful environment that we have.
DEBRA: Sometimes I wonder how do we stay alive. I mean that just goes to show the resilience of our bodies.
I really know for myself that I have been having to address body conditions all my life that have to do with chemical exposures. And it’s not that I have been exposed to these chemicals anymore, but the damage was caused to my body at a time early on. And then I saw that my health has improved tremendously, but still there are things going on.
Anyway, we need to go on a break. This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. I am Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Dr. Steven Gilbert. Go to Toxipedia.org and download his book, A Small Dose of Toxicology. We’ll be right back.
So Dr. Gilbert, I’m looking at your risk of potential endocrine disruptors and you’ve mentioned some of them, but I just like to go over the list as a whole here because I can see some of these. I am thinking from the viewpoint of how do we get these out of our bodies. I know that Bisphenol-A, I’ve studied that quite a bit about detox and what I’ve learned is that most people have an ongoing present of this Bisphenol-A in their bodies not because its persistent in the body, but because we continue to be exposed to it.
But if we stopped being exposed to it, some studies have shown that within a few days, it’ll all just clear itself out of our body and that the body will detox itself. So it’s not a matter of needing to take some things specific for it.
But I am looking at this list. And the first one of the list is DDT which you know is no longer allowed in the US. It has been many years since it’s been banned. Wasn’t this the pesticide that Rachel Carson wrote about in Silent Spring, DDT?
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: Yeah, that’s right. She rewrote about DDT.
DEBRA: It’s still ubiquitous, isn’t it?
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: Yes, it’s still ubiquitous. We’re still exposed to it from animals that we consume. It’s a very persistent chemical. We’ve tried to get rid of some of these persistent bioaccumulative chemicals. But DDT is a classic example of one that just continues to survive in the food chain.
And it’s also still being used in mosquito nets in some places in developing countries to fight mosquitoes. It’s a very effective pesticide, but it has a very bad side-effect. It will just stay around and continues to be present in people’s bodies. It’s now known to be an endocrine disruptor.
It’s very difficult to get rid of this because it’s stored in the fat. And one way that a woman reduce her body burden of DDT is during breast feeding. Because they mobilizes a lot of fat during that period, they mobilize a lot of DDT which exposes the developing infant to DDT. They’re endocrine disrupting compounds.
DEBRA: Wow! Wow, wow. I was going to say the more I learn about toxic chemicals, but I have been learning about them for so long. But still, the more I learn about toxic chemicals, the more it is just seems like it is such a bad idea that this even happened in the first place. How do ever know?
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: Absolutely! [Inaudible 00:20:54] We just haven’t been thinking more carefully about future generations and really guarding our children. We really want our children to be able to reach and maintain their full potential. They can’t do that if they are exposed to this wide array of chemicals.
DEBRA: Some other things on this list. This is just the list of the big, bad chemicals that I’ve been hearing about on the news all my life—DDT, 24D, PCB, DES and more recently PBDE (Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, that’s the one that is in the fire retardants), phthalates in plastics, Bisphenol A, Dioxin, Arsenic.
Dr. Gilbert has this chart here and it says, “Arsenic, Lead and Mercury: Wide-Spread Contaminants.” All the other ones he was talking about, 24D is an herbicide, Atrazine is a herbicide, BPA is a hard learned classic. Then he gets into arsenic, lead an mercury, and it says “widespread contaminants.” And these are widespread. We are looking at all these, and it’s like our poor endocrine systems.
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: It’s very serious. It’s very serious, the lack of really trying to pay attention to chemical exposures. Mercury is in coal. So you burn coal for our utility plants, you distribute mercury throughout the environment. That’s a really serious consideration particularly on the west coast because they’ve got all the air that’s coming from China.
These are global issues. It’s not just an issue in the United States. These are global issues.
We’ve tried to [00:22:33] bisphenol-A and it still go into product. We’ve banned bisphenol-A in baby toys and we’ve been trying to get it out of plastic bottles and things like that. But why do we start doing them in there without studying the potential health effects? Phthalates are in personal care products and used in fragrances.
So, we end up being exposed to these products from multiple sources. They are in our cars. They are in our plastic. We have phthalates from shower curtains, plastic shower curtains. We have phthalates that offgass from products.
So it really is not being thoughtful about the chemicals exposures. We’ve put the burden on individuals that try to [inaudible 00:23:10] this work where we really should have a more broad effort to manage our chemicals.
If we put new drugs into the environment, we have a very precautionary approach. The Food and Drug Administration is required to study the potential toxicity or benefits of a compound. We don’t have a similar approach for putting industrial chemicals into the environment, exposing our children.
DEBRA: Last night, I was watching TV and I wasn’t awake enough to remember exactly what I am about to tell you. There was a commercial on for a drug. And we are all familiar with those drug commercials where they give you a beautiful picture and some nice music and a nice pleasant voice saying about all the side-effects.
But last night, it just went on and on. And it ended with death as a side-effect.
But the thing that really impressed me was that it was a drug for something that had nothing to do with saving your life or being comfortable. It was like some cosmetic thing like make your eyelashes grow longer or something like that. It just amazes me that all of these health effects can be known and yet they are still allowed to be sold.
Every night, we’re watching TV and there’s at least one or two or three drug commercials that are talking about the dangers of these drugs. And yet, they are being sold. They are being advertised. And people buy them.
Do you have any comment on the fact that we could be having all these warnings, and yet people aren’t listening?
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: I think we are just overwhelmed with that kind of information sometimes. We’ve got lots of information and we want to do things too quickly so sometimes. We want a quick fix. I think our whole medical profession end up as being geared toward the cure instead of preventing disease.
We look for a quick fix to prevent whatever disease we have. And a lot of these don’t cure whatever disease we have or fix it. We’re not looking at the longer term issue of preventing disease like having good nutrition, having fewer chemical exposures where we’re trying to prevent obesity, trying to prevent diabetes, trying to prevent endocrine disruptive effects or the nervous system, ADHD, hyperactivity (with autism, for example). We need to be working to prevent these and not just try to fix them.
But the money is made by treating disease and not preventing disease. That is a systemic problem in our medical system. The whole medical pharmaceutical companies have been geared towards treating disease, not preventing disease.
What is so important about your show is that you’re trying to focus people in how to prevent illnesses [inaudible 00:26:16] instead of working from behind all the time.
DEBRA: Thank you. We need to go for a break, but we can talk about that more when we come back.
You’re listening today with Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Dr. Steven Gilbert author of A Small Dose of Toxicology. I really need to go before the commercial comes on.
And it’s well-worth downloading it and taking a look. This will help you understand what’s going on in the world with toxic chemicals a lot better
So Dr. Gilbert, this is our last segment now. We are going to run out of time soon. Is there anything that you would like to talk about that I haven’t asked you yet?
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: Just a quick mention, my website, if you go to the book, you can download the chapter in endocrine disruptors as well as the PowerPoint presentation about it just to give a quick overview of how to protect endocrine disruptors.
I want to point out another really good—if you want to dig a bit more details—The Endocrine Disruptor Exchange (TEDX). You can there by EndocrineDisruption.org. It gives a lot more details about the health effects of endocrine disruptors as well as more details on the endocrine system. It also explores chemicals and natural gas operations [inaudible 00:27:42] pesticides.
Another resource has really come out recently. There’s a new book by Philippe Grandjean and there’s a website called ChemicalBrainDrain.info. You can get his new book from ChemicalBrainDrain.info. He explores some of the endocrine disruptors as well as the other chemicals that affect early development.
I think what we are really emphasizing here is, with endocrine disruption, the exquisite sensitivity of the developing nervous system, the developing body. And we need to be thinking more about that.
The other thing that’s important is that everything is not just straight dose responses, not “the more of the compound, the more the effect.” There’s also these very low level of subtle changes in performance and subtle long-term effects. And the effects that we garner in our early life can really have impact as we grow older. DES is just one example of that, but it can also be increased incidence of diabetes, other nervous system disorders, sexual dysfunction, low number sperm counts and other deformities.
So, it really is a very complex system that we’re perturbing in unknown ways.
DEBRA: And the best thing that we can do is to be aware on where those chemicals are, what the chemicals are, where those chemicals are, what the alternatives are so that we can create a toxic free home.
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: More broadly, we need a chemical policy reformed. It really does get the heart of the matter. We have more information about chemicals we put into the products we use.
DEBRA: We need to have better labeling
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: We need much better labelling, much more transparency about what chemicals are in the products and what the potential health effects of these products are and really move towards [inaudible 00:29:34] fewer chemicals.
DEBRA: One of the reasons why I like doing this radio show is because we just need to have more awareness, so that people can say, “Oh, I understand that there’s a problem and what can we do about it.” I know that I am constantly talking to people, but they don’t even know that there’s a problem at all. And these are intelligent people. They are just not aware of it.
As much as you want to talk about it, it’s still not part of our collective awareness, and that we all together should be doing this and this is just the right thing.
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. I think we sort of assume that it’s out, a product, the government must’ve taken a look at it enough. In this case, the government has not taken a good look at it and is not really monitoring chemical exposures.
And [inaudible 00:30:27] we are not exposed to just one endocrine disruptor. We are exposed to a lot of them. They have so many more mechanisms of action. When we do our assessments of this chemicals, it’s one chemical at a time. It’s very difficult to do mixtures of chemicals that we’re, in reality, exposed to.
DEBRA: Even if they did that in the lab, they can’t possibly duplicate what mixture of chemicals I’m being exposed to because its different than the mixture of chemicals you’re being exposed to. Each of our listeners has their own—I’m trying to figure out what is the right word here—mine field of chemicals that they are—
That’s what it is. It’s like walking through a mine field as you move through your day…
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: Our individual sensitivity is really important, knowing what we’re exposed to and what our individual responses. We all metabolize chemicals a little bit differently. The chemicals we’re exposed to influences our genetic response to these chemicals.
So, it’s very a complex environment that we’re [inaudible 00:31:32]. We’re all individuals. We do not pay enough attention to individual sensitivity. For example, kids are much more sensitive to adults. We don’t account for that in our assessment of toxicity response to these chemicals.
DEBRA: Well, I don’t want to sound really scary. I mean, it actually is something scary. We should be concerned enough about it. We should be scared enough to do something. But I don’t want people to think so scared that they think that there’s nothing that they can do.
And I know in my own personal experience that being aware of the toxic chemicals in my environment, whether it’s in my home or as I am out of the world, and knowing what I can do to help protect my body has so greatly increased my health. It’s just astounding to me. So even though my health isn’t perfect because there’s been damaged done to my body even before we can be aware of it, I am so functional than I have been at other times in my life when I was being exposed to toxic chemicals.
I just want to emphasize that it’s so worth it. It’s so worth to do whatever you can do to find out where the toxic chemicals are that you’re being exposed to, whether they are endocrine disruptors or they harm your immune system or whatever it is they do. If they are toxic, you want to stay away from them.
And when you do that, and if you do things to start removing toxic chemicals from your body, you will see a difference. You will see a difference. I am willing to say that I can guarantee you will see a difference. Because we are exposed to so many toxic chemicals that if we just do something, it’s going to reduce that stress in our bodies and our health can return.
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: You are absolutely right there, Debra. When you see these chemicals used in our homes, in our schools, it’s really important just being more conscious of those issues and what chemicals might be in the products we use and try to reduce exposure to them.
Take off your shoes when you come into the house. Wash your hands. You know I have a couple of grandchildren. The first thing I do when they come to my house, “Take off your shoes. Before you eat, you have to wash your hands.”
Simple things like that are really important too in trying to reduce exposure to chemicals because chemicals are in so many different places. When we touch an old t-cushion, we pick up flame-retardant in our fingers.
So, it’s very important to just try to be aware of what other chemical exposures might be coming from and little simple things to help reduce exposures.
DEBRA: I totally agree with you. And even if you are only doing some small baby steps, it’s worth it to do those. Don’t think that just because you’re not doing everything, that what you’re doing isn’t making a difference because it does. Every little bit helps. Every little bit helps.
You know, I have a very non-toxic house. I know a lot of stuff. I don’t know everything there is to know. But I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years. So, I started out knowing nothing. I started out having as toxic a life as everybody could have. I wore perfume. I drank tap water. I ate TV dinners. I grew up on TV dinners. I probably have as much chemical exposure as anybody is ever had.
I remember, I think I read somewhere that some of our strongest memory is about smells. And I think about smells from my childhood, and I want to tell you three of them that come to mind immediately:
One is the smell of my mother’s ballpoint pen, the ink in my mother’s ballpoint pen. She always wrote with pink ballpoint pens. I remember that smell. Then I learned what was in ballpoint pen ink.
Another one was my grandmother’s sofa. The third one was my grandfather. The garage was his space. And so the smell of his garage was gasoline because he just had cans and cans of gasoline. And as a little kid, I was just there smelling the gasoline, smelling the gasoline, smelling the gasoline. Nobody even thought twice about it. Nobody had an awareness when
I was a kid that we should even be thinking about toxins.
But now we know! Now, we know and we should do something about it.
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: Actually, I grew up working with cars, so I was exposed to gasoline and a lot of solvents too. And one of the consequence of that as we age and get older—we’re not thinking about it when we’re in the ‘50s or in the ‘60s. We’re sort of charging ahead, thinking chemicals are our friends and we’re solving the world’s problems. And what we’re doing, we’re really doing a lot of damage to ourselves and our future generations.
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: Lead is a classic example of that. We spread lead all over the environment, putting lead in gasoline, lead in paint. And lead is one of the endocrine disruptors as well as having a lot of other effects. We are not taking a precautionary approach to this.
They’ve banned lead-based paint in Europe in the ‘20s. In the United States, not until ’78. We did not learn lessons that we should learned looking at the health effects of chemicals.
DEBRA: Well, I read something the other day. I send out inspiring quotes every day. You can go to ToxicFreeTalkRadio.org and just sign up for the newsletter. You can choose that. It’s called Words of Wisdom.
And one of them recently—I’m sure I won’t quote it right—but it was something like “we can’t go back and change what we’ve already done, but we can start today and make a new future.” We can’t change the past, but we can make a new future. And I think that’s an excellent advice for toxics.
Well, thank you so much for being with us. I am sure we’ll talk again.
DR. STEVEN GILBERT: That’ll be great, Debra. Thank you so much for what you’re doing. You’re really great, getting the word out like this.
DEBRA: This is ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com. I am Debra Lynn Dadd. Be well.