Most people in the United State have elevated levels of toxic chemicals and environmental pollution in their bodies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While chemical compounds exist naturally in your body and environment, bio-accumulation of foreign chemicals usually manifests as “common” ailments with vague symptoms resulting in potentially grave repercussions." Since most toxin-related ailments are now considered commonplace—like fatigue, aches and pains and even cancer—detecting toxicity is a challenge. Untreated, however, these silent killers lead to birth defects, disease and impede quality of life.
Consider your risk factors. If you have encountered industrial chemicals, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs), insecticides or cleaning solutions, you are probably at risk. Smokers, drug users and people who work with hazardous chemicals are more prone to toxicity. Also consider less obvious pollutants such as hydrogenated fats, synthetic sugars and chemicals in commercially processed foods, and household cleaning agents like air fresheners and surface cleaners. You stand a greater chance of toxicity if you live in an area with high levels of air and water pollution. Lead, arsenic, chlorine, mercury and boric acid are dangerous chemicals that lurk in unexpected places like cosmetics and drinking water.
Be wary of symptoms that arise with no explanation. Psychological symptoms include lack of focus and memory, irritability, depression, hyperactivity and even schizophrenia. Acne, heartburn, chronic cough and migraines are a few of the physical manifestations. Consider toxin levels in more severe cases such as cancer, chronic fatigue or tremors. Obesity and alcoholism are also good indicators of dangerous toxin levels. Pay attention to early indicators like stiffness, headache or lack of motivation, especially in the morning. Even seemingly harmless body odor and bad breath may indicate toxin overload.
Test yourself at home. The stiffness and lack of energy that so many people accept as a natural part of the aging process are really unnatural warning signs you’re your body is filled with toxins. Sit on the floor with both legs out straight. Fold forward slowly and gently. Any uncomfortable tensions in your back, hips or hamstrings are toxins trapped in the muscle.
Take an exposure history exam online at the CDC website or through your health care provider. Blood and urine sampling offer a glimpse into your body’s toxin level. Home test kits are available online and through many pharmacies. Find a kit that tests for a broad spectrum of toxins, or a drug or chemical test specified for your risk factors. An instructional guide for exposure history is available at atsdr.cdc.gov/HEC/CSEM/exphistory/docs/exposure_history.pdf.