How to Protect Ourselves From Toxic Chemicals

December 12, 2020

This is a video recording of a Dinno Health community event “How to protect ourselves from toxic chemicals, why we should care and what we can do about it.” held on November 13, 2020. The speaker is Dr. Aly Cohen, author of the newly released book “Non-toxic: Guide to living healthy in a chemical world,” published by Oxford University Press.

Below is an excerpt of the recording:

In this country, we have an extremely limited oversight of the chemicals that go into our food, personal care products, cleaning products, chemicals that go on fabrics such as non-stick chemicals, waterproofing chemicals, grease non-grease chemicals on our food wrappers and pretty much any plastic that we use or use for our food and drinks.

For many people this is a real eye-opener and it was for me about eight or nine years ago when I was just diving into this topic. At the time I was a practicing physician and my dog got very ill. He was at a very young age, at four and a half, and he was a golden retriever. We just thought he swallowed a sock like every other golden retriever. When we took him to the vet, it turned out that he had a very small liver and he was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis, which is when the body’s immune system gets triggered in a negative way towards himself, thinking that his body and parts of his body are actually the enemy. What’s unique about this diagnosis is that not only do humans rarely get this diagnosis but dogs rarely get autoimmune hepatitis as a diagnosis and in particular this breed. What was also shocking is that I’m an autoimmune disease specialist for humans. I see these kinds of diseases. I see MS. I treat rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, any type of autoimmune disease. I am already seeing humans and so to have this in my own dog, my firstborn, was truly heartbreaking.

I looked into what might have triggered his immune system. I thought about pesticides in our environment. We live in a farm in Central New Jersey. I looked into his water, whether or not his drinking water might be contaminated. I looked into his dog food, whether or not there might be contamination in that line of dog food, his dog collar which has neurotoxins. But at the time I didn’t know much and I dove into all these topics trying to figure out, out of my own sadness and guilt, what might have caused this dog’s immune system to be triggered. What I revealed was that there are so many problems with our regulatory system for humans and it was just a pandora’s box of ‘are you kidding me.’

So to begin with, cosmetics and personal care products in the U.S. require no testing for those ingredients before they go into the products that end up on our shelves and end up on our bodies. That right there blows many people’s minds because we often assume that there’s regulatory oversight just like there is in medication. Medication is overseen by the FDA. It has a very rigorous process and quite reputable around the world. However that’s where it ends in terms of regulation in this country. Not only do we not have any testing required by manufacturing before their products go onto the shelf, they are also the only ones that are able to remove those products from store shelves should they cause any health conditions. It is not government that removes them from the shelves. It is actually the manufacturers that have to do that or have to be willing to do that if that’s the case.

Our label problems have stemmed from the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act that was very limited all the way until now. We also had an incredible boom of chemical production in the 1950s with World War II. That period of time was quite impressive because we had new pesticides for our troops that were going overseas to protect them from malaria and all these other harmful infections. We also got naugahyde, rayon, polyester, formica and just literally thousands of new compounds that were added to all of the products we love, even food containers like cans. Bisphenol A which many of you may remember was taken out of baby bottles in the U.S. That was the only place that Bisphenol A was taken out of the market. Now why was it taken out?

Watch the video to learn more about

  • the history and regulation of chemicals in the U.S., a special class of chemicals called endocrine disruptors and their unique biological properties, the rising incidence of chronic health issues associated with many environmental chemicals, and  proactive approaches to reducing exposure to chemicals in our everyday lives.
  •  tools, tips, and recommendations for limiting chemical exposure and maximizing our innate biological pathways through safe use of exercise, diet, sleep hygiene, appropriate supplements, and other means.