Monday, December 6, 2010

Results of Tests for Pollutants in my Body

In 2003 I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood. Medications have kept me in remission for more than seven years. One of the factors that can lead to this disease is exposure to persistent organic pollutants. A major source of these pollutants is large pelagic sea food such as swordfish and tuna. During the late 1990s I was eating large quantities of these fish thinking them healthy. After my diagnosis I decided to have myself tested for the levels of these pollutants. The results described below are excerpted from my forthcoming book "The Voice of the Dolphins." They were certainly shocking to me.

From "The Voice of the Dolphins" (c) Hardy Jones
The first task was to document correlations between high levels of toxic substances in the oceans, and clusters of multiple myeloma and other cancers in humans on adjacent lands. I decided to begin with myself and had my blood tested for environmental toxins. It wasn’t cheap – four thousand dollars. But if I was going to pursue this line of investigation, I needed to know whether I had high levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in my own body that might have triggered the myeloma.
I contacted AXYS Analytical in Victoria, Canada, a company that analyzes the contaminant levels on both the Canadian and American orca that pass through the Straits of Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands. They sent me a kit with a return Fed Ex package and pre-addressed label. Getting my blood drawn was a simple matter. I went to the lab where I had my monthly blood tests done and handed them the instructions from AXYS. They sat me down, wrapped the rubber ribbon around my arm and drew the blood. Then it went into the hands of Fed Ex.

The report took three months in coming, but the results were staggering. I had hundreds of toxic chemicals in my tissues. The report showed significant levels of POPs, in particular heptachlor, nonachlor, aldrin, mirex, dieldrin, and dioxins. But what really jumped out were spikes of particular congeners (subtypes) of DDE ( a metabolite of DDT), hexachlorobenzene (a petroleum derivative known to cause cancer), chlordane (a pesticide known to cause cancer and banned in the USA in 1988), PCBs (the same chemicals found in declining populations of orca off Washington State), hydroxy PCBs, hexachlorbyphenyls, and PBDEs (flame retardants).

Not only were levels of some of the individual toxins high, but the combined total of all classes of specific chemicals, each of which could produce cancer by itself, was enormous. Beyond that, these chemicals synergize to produce effects greater than that of each individual chemical.

Where had all these chemicals come from?

I showed Dr. Durie (Dr. Brian Durie, International Myeloma Foundation) the results of the tests. He was amazed by both the variety of chemicals documented and the very high levels of some of them. But he further surprised me with the news that the levels in my body were not atypical in the relatively few Americans who have been tested for their toxic burden. But, he cautioned, just because certain values were “common” in the general population didn’t mean they were harmless, especially in combination. The very fact that they were common might mean the levels of pollutants in the American population were far more dangerous than imagined.

Author's Note: Vastly more is known about the levels of pollutants in marine mammals than in humans.

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