I am sometimes an observer on an ad hoc environmental task force convened by Len Wisneski, MD, chair of the Integrative Health Policy Consortium. He instigated the initiative to explore what the integrative medicine community might do shortly after the emergence of the horrendous problems of contaminated water in Flint, Michigan. During e-exchanges between participants, a side discussion commenced over which toxins are the worst for human health. Long-time environmental medicine doctor Walter Crinnion, ND shared his list of “top 10 toxic compounds.” Crinnion responded affirmatively when I asked if I might share his list with the Integrative Practitioner audience.
Crinnion, who offers a monthly environmental medicine update podcast, Crinnion Opinion, and a 12-month environmental medicine training program, first clarified his selection criteria. He evaluates human exposure from two perspectives:
- First, how common it is in daily life?
- Second, what is the level of exposure in the US population?
He relies for these measures on the fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Crinnion, who is adjunct faculty at George Washington University School of Medicine and at the University of Western States, then cross-walks these data with known disease associations of the compounds. Of particular interest in his assessment are:
- Any association with most common diseases that have strong impact on mortality and morbidity
- Any prenatal exposure causing childhood health problems
- The duration of exposure that is necessary for disease manifestation
Here is Crinnion’s Top 10 Toxic Compounds list.
|1||Particulate matter||CVD, HTN, dementia, reduced cognition, autism, diabetes, obesity, infertility, low testosterone, birth defects||Vehicular exhaust (especially diesel)|
|2||PAH||CVD, HTN, dementia, cognition, autism, diabetes, obesity, allergies, asthma, infertility, low testosterone, birth defects||Vehicular exhaust|
|3||Solvents||Neurotoxicity, thrombocytopenia, allergies, asthma, autoimmunity, chemical sensitivity||Vehicular exhaust, paints, cleaners, inks, building materials, cigarette smoke, etc.|
|4||Mycotoxins (home)||Respiratory problems, neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity||Water-damaged buildings|
|5||Phthalates||Infertility, obesity, diabetes||Personal care products, flexible plastics|
|6||Lead||HTN, Parkinsonism, cognitive dysfunction, depression, ADHD||Mom, water, supplements, older homes|
|7||Organophosphate pesticides||ADHD, cognitive dysfunction||Non-organic foods|
|8||Mercury||Fatigue, headache, reduced cognition, depression, ADHD, CVD, NAFLD,||High Hg fish|
|9||Perflourocarbons||T2DM, osteoarthritis, ulcerative colitis, hepatocellular damage||Indoor air – cooking with Teflon and scotch-guarded material|
|10||PCBs||Diabetes, lung and liver cancers, autoimmunity, chronic infections, hypothyroid, reduced cognition, T2DM, endometriosis||Farmed salmon|
|11||Cadmium||Pancreatic cancer, osteoporosis, kidney disease, CVD, NASH, learning disability||Smoking, tofu|
|12||Arsenic||Lung, prostate and liver cancers, CVD, diabetes||Water|
Comment: Crinnion’s chart is powerful. There are those somewhat surprising elements on sourcingfor example, tofu, farm-raised salmon, and supplements. There is the reminder of how far we are from Eden with the toxicity in a mother’s milk. The sheer number of conditions connected to these agents. These messages haven’t yet migrated from this community to the general population. This, or something like it, should be one of those elementary school wall charts from the CDC that introduces children to the nature of their world. Sorry kids. Welcome to our world.
One of Crinnion’s fellow task force members, Joseph Pizzorno, ND, provoked Crinnion to share his list when Pizzorno spoke of research for his new book that is due out in February, The Toxin Solution. I explored some of Pizzorno’s findings in this article, “Integrative Scientist Pizzorno: Toxins are the Primary Driver of Disease.” The book’s sub-heading is “How Hidden Poisons in the Air, Water, Food and Products We Use Are Destroying Our Health – AND WHAT WE CAN DO TO FIX IT.”
This is a subject that needs this heightened level of attention. Yet, it can be quite dismaying to be typing about this urgency as in the background of my office the hearing process is underway for Scott Pruitt, the nominee to direct an agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, which he has frequently opposed. Hopefully Pizzorno’s book, like Crinnion’s list, will help educate and motivate us toward health-creating policies.