Agricultural and environmental toxins cause widespread damage to the world around us, plant and animal life, the food chain, and most importantly, our health.
There are thousands of potentially toxic chemicals in our environment, food, and products that we use in our daily lives. Toxins such as pesticides, lead, and bisphenol are three culprits that can damage essential Ca2+ATPase levels.
Let’s look at exactly how these toxins can negatively impact our health.
Did you know that the average person has traces of 29 different pesticides in their body? Although these chemicals have only been in use since the 1940s, researchers, environmentalists, and activists have found substantial evidence of the dangers of pesticides.
The word pesticide is an umbrella term for chemicals or substances that kill insects, fungi, bacteria, weeds, and even small mammals that farmers regard as pests.
Pesticides affect Ca2+ATPase levels in different parts of the body. For example, parathion affects Ca2+ATPase in the heart, brain, central nervous system, and the red blood cells, whereas paraquat affects the liver.
Organophosphate pesticides affect Ca2+ATPase in the brain, skeletal muscle, red blood cells and lungs. These chemicals include:
Researchers noted the concerning health effects of pesticides in children. In one study, children with the highest urinary levels of an organophosphate exposure marker were twice as likely to develop attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHA) as those with undetectable levels.
Another study found that children born to mothers with high levels of organophosphates in their bodies while pregnant had an IQ of seven points below the children whose mothers had the lowest levels.
Scientists have found these extremely harmful pesticides harm Ca2+ ATPase levels in the brain, red blood cells, developing fetuses, heart, and even sperm.
These chemicals include:
Because they show high toxicity, slow degradation and bioaccumulation, Europe and the US have mostly banned them.
However, the US still uses one of these chemicals. In 2014, pharmacists filled 20,000 prescriptions for lindane to treat scabies and lice, despite its status as carcinogenic to humans according to the WHO.
Organochlorine pesticides do not dissolve easily in water, so it’s difficult to wash them off skin or food. Because of this, they have joined the ranks of “persistent organic pollutants” or POPs.
Lead is an environmental toxin that inhibits Ca2+ ATPase levels in the brain, red blood cells, and skeletal muscles.
Do you remember the 2014 lead contamination story of Flint, Michigan? It made headlines. As many as 9,000 children became exposed to high levels of lead after the city switched the supply of drinking water.
Why the outrage? A plethora of studies has found a link between unsafe levels of lead exposure in children and problems, including:
- significant developmental delays
- brain damage
- learning and behavioral issues
- kidney damage
Even a minuscule amount of lead can inhibit Ca2+ ATPase, meaning children may have problems with attention, learning, and controlling impulses.
In newborn babies, lead levels correspond inversely with Ca2+ ATPase. The higher the lead levels, the lower the Ca2+ATPase. Even prenatal lead exposure can harm a developing fetus.
Lead is a problem for adults, and it can trigger:
- high blood pressure
- digestive problems
- nerve disorders
- muscle and joint pain
- memory and concentration problems
- impaired hearing and vision.
Lead poisoning can and does happen, and it’s dangerous.
Where does lead contamination come from?
The water supply can be a source of lead toxicity, as highlighted by the Flint story.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), utility companies provide water to a third of the US population from streams that clean water laws don’t cover. That’s over one hundred million people who are drinking water that could contain toxic levels of lead.
Congress banned lead water pipes thirty years ago, but around 3.3 million to 10 million older pipes remain. Lead can leach into the water supply from damaged pipes.
Other sources of lead include:
- costume jewelry
- vintage toys, cribs, and furniture
Bisphenols are a group of chemicals that include polychlorinated bisphenols (PCBs) and bisphenol A (BPA).
Polychlorinated bisphenols (PCBs)
PCBs negatively impact the brain’s Ca2+ ATPase levels. These man-made chemicals are highly toxic. Manufacturers use them to produce a vast range of consumer goods, such as paints, adhesives, and flame retardants.
The government banned PCBs in 1977. However, they are slow to break down and remain an environmental toxin for decades.
Fish accumulate PCBs from sediment, and it becomes more concentrated in the food chain. PCB levels in some fish can be as much as one million times higher than the water. Fish and shellfish are our primary sources of exposure to this toxin.
BPAs impact Ca2+ ATPase in the brain, skeletal muscle, and testes. Manufacturers use BPA to make polycarbonate plastic for food packaging and water bottles.
BPA exposure disrupts the endocrine system, whose job is to manufacture hormones. Some research implicates BPA to abnormalities in the development of fetuses and neonates, increased miscarriages and premature births, increased sperm DNA damage, and unfortunately much more.
Understanding the dangers of toxins
Unfortunately, it’s challenging to avoid all forms of toxic chemicals in our modern world. However, once we understand the most concentrated sources, we can work toward limiting our exposure, safeguarding our health and maintaining our Ca2+ ATPase levels.