If its bad for devils, then what about us?

24 01 2008

It turns out that dead Tasmanian devils are showing high concentrations of flame retardants in their tissues.  Its a reminder for us that contrary to notions of pollution being pleasantly diluted in the natural world, sometimes toxins (especially fat soluble ones) become concentrated up the food chain. That means that predators like Tasmanian Devils and….well….us…..can be especially at risk.  Australia has five times the concentrations of these particular nasties in our blood as Japanese or Europeans.

This article here reports on worrying levels in human breast milk.  Kids under 4 years have particularly high levels. Also a reminder that although we know a lot about very short term, high levels of exposure to organic toxins, we know next to nothing about long term, more moderate exposure to such pollutants. Can we blame male infertility, neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune diseases and rapidly escalating cancer rates on pollution? For the most part, we can’t say just yet. The complexity and expense of doing large, prospective studies on these things is quite extreme. So its unlikely we’ll find out any time soon.

A precautionary approach seems sensible. All of this makes me want to move away from petro-chemicals and towards organic processes and foods.

It will be a very sad day for our species when it is safer for babies to drink formula than to drink their own mother’s milk.

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