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Toxicity - Sensationalism versus reality

Toxicity – noun – the quality, relative degree or specific degree of being poisonous.

How many times have you seen in the news – toys contain toxic materials, or your food is loaded with toxic chemicals, or there are toxic materials in your holiday decorations?  The list of headline variations is just as numerous as the number of materials that exist.  And, from a public relations or sensationalism point of view – these headlines are effective.  But, are you aware that water is toxic, and I don’t mean the impurities in the water either.  Turns out that many of the essential things in life are just as toxic as those materials that are identified as poisons.

Water is potential dangerous, and not just from the potential for drowning.  There is water intoxication.

How about chromium?  It is a heavy metal, and is listed on numerous lists for hazardous materials.  Yet, chromium deficiency is a real health problem.  The thing to understand here is not only the oxidation state of the material but the amounts of the material.

How about iron?  Too little iron - and you get anemia, too much?  There is an iron toxicity.

These examples don't even begin to cover the differences between species.  Anyone who has horses, sheep, cows, cats, and dogs - has learned that some foods that are fine for humans may not be fine for one of the others.  There are a variety of metals and minerals that one species can have but have extreme adverse effects on another.

Why, what is it that we forget to take into account?  There are really two things going on here - one is dose, i.e. available concentration of the substance. For many of us - the adage of the dose makes the poison holds.  The other is just the metabolic makeup of the potential recipient or the individual exposed.  One individual may be able to handle the exposure while another may not.

Yes, at this time of year - families need to be aware of the materials that are brought into the home.  We need to be aware of the potential for exposure.  But, one shouldn't necessarily be alarmed at every ingredient or component.  The key is to understand the potential routes of exposure, whether or not the material is biologically accessible, and to avoid exposure routes.  Our homes, offices, and briefcases are filled with harmful, and toxic materials - lithium, copper, chromium, iron, tin, etc.  But as long as I don't eat the batteries, or through them into the fire place, I am not likely to be exposed.  Be aware, but don't over react.

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