by Robert Lewis, Boricua College

Bioaccumulation is the storing of toxic chemicals in our bodies through contact with obvious, and not so obvious, chemical pathways. Each of us will explore common ways our bodies gather and store toxins.


Got Chemicals?

Living in megalopolis like New York City makes us aware that we are constantly exposed to many chemicals that can be harmful to our bodies.  But what exactly are these chemicals, and where are we exposed to them in our day to day lives? It's surprising that such a simple question has no simple list of answers.  In fact, most of us are entirely unaware about the common day-to-day activities that allow us to come in contact with environmental toxins.

More importantly, once these toxins are in our bodies, they're like tenants who don't pay the rent – it's hard to get them to leave. This chemical principle, called bioaccumulation, demonstrates that when dangerous chemicals are given a choice between drifting around an abiotic media, like a chair or building, or a biotic organism, full of fatty tissues, they invariably attach themselves to living things.  They want to be around the life of the party as much as the next molecule, after all.

Consider the following activity: I'm sitting in bed, with the TV on, tapping away on my wifi netbook.  What could I possibly be doing that exposes me to a toxic chemical pathway?  It turns out that TVs, computers, and mattress contain polybrominated diphenyl ethers ("PBDEs").  According to David Ewing Duncan, who wrote "The Pollution Within" for National Geographic, these chemicals can disrupt thyroid function, cause reproductive and neurological problems, and hamper neurological development. 

Click on the link above, and read the article to get a fuller understanding about chemical pathways and bioaccumulation in our bodies.