What is definitely not normal is how our bodies are losing many of our natural defenses that help to repel chemical and viral invaders, and to keep us healthy. A 2004 special issue of Environmental Science & Technology, an American Chemical Society journal, was devoted to the new science of ecotoxicology, the study of synthetic-chemical effects on life and the environment. The journal editors wrote that this new field and its research are vital “if we are to protect our living heritage from the cocktail of chemicals present in all environments.” Cited as particularly important was research about the impact of musk fragrances, those synthetic chemicals used to enhance the smell of shampoos and air fresheners and detergents, which aren’t removed by sewage treatment and as a result now contaminate most bodies of water.

A California Sea Grant program examined how these synthetic fragrances affect the natural defenses of mussels. After a large group of mussels was exposed to low concentrations of six commercial musk chemicals, they were washed and placed in water containing a red dye. The mussels quickly soaked up the dye, which was abnormal because mussels have the ability to detect and repel foreign substances, such as dyes. They had lost their natural defense as a result of the musk chemical exposure.

Like mussels and most other animal species, humans use protective mechanisms against chemical invaders. It is known that these musk chemicals are building up in human tissues and becoming a permanent part of our toxic body burden. The health dangers are unknown, just another unknown among many, but this study suggests a way in which these chemicals may be weakening the human immune system. This is definitely not normal.

Fitzgerald, Randall. The Hundred-Year Lie: How to Protect Yourself from the Chemicals That Are Destroying Your Health (pp. 161-162). Plume. Kindle Edition.

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