Q & A - How Can Toxic Chemicals Enter Your Body?

Toxic chemicals are found in your food and water, the air you breath, the personal care products you use and even the dust in your home. Once you consider all the sources of toxin exposure how toxic chemicals enter your body becomes obvious.

These sources of toxin exposure means you inhale, ingest and absorb toxic chemicals through your skin.

Inhaling Toxic Chemicals

Outdoor air contains toxic chemicals from car exhaust, industry, power plants, farming and many other sources. Indoor sources include toxins are emitted from the products you use in your home and the building materials in your home.

Toxic Chemicals in outdoor and indoor air are in the form of gases, vapors, mists, fumes, particles and dust. They can enter through your nose or mouth. From there they can be absorbed through the mucous membranes of your nose, trachea, bronchi, and lungs.

Your lung tissue is not a very protective barrier against the chemicals you inhale into your body. So toxins can move quickly from your lungs into your into blood stream and move throughout your body. Inhaled toxins can also damage your lungs.

Absorbing Toxic Chemicals Through Your Skin

Although your skin is an effective barrier for many chemicals, it’s still a common route of exposure to toxins. The main source of toxic chemicals absorbed through your skin are from products that come in contact with your skin.

Things like pesticides, cleaning products, lotions, makeup and hair care products contain toxic chemicals that can be absorbed into your body. Many of these products also contain chemicals that make it easier for your skin to absorb things.

Once toxic chemicals are absorbed they enter your blood stream and are carried to all parts of your body. Chemicals are absorbed much more readily through injured, chapped, or cracked skin. Also, as you age your skin becomes a less effective barrier to toxic chemicals.

Ingesting Toxic Chemicals

Growing, processing, packaging, cooking and storing food can add toxins. Some examples are arsenic in brown rice, BPA from canned food and nitrosamines from processed meats. Drinking water is also a source of toxic chemical exposure.

Ingestion involves chemicals entering your body through your mouth. Absorption of toxic chemicals into your bloodstream can occur anywhere along the length of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Three things can happen to the toxic chemicals you absorb: metabolism, excretion and storage. Many chemicals are broken down (metabolized or transformed) by chemical reactions in your body, especially your liver.

Once they are metabolized they are usually excreted through your exhaled breath, perspiration, urine, or feces.

Sometimes toxic chemicals resist being metabolized. These are distributed and stored in specific organs in your body. Storage increases your exposure to these chemicals.

For some chemicals elimination may be a matter of days or months; for others, the elimination rate is so low that they may persist in your body for a lifetime and cause numerous health problems.