The toxic timebomb: Researchers say gender-bending chemicals are rife but are they just the tip of the iceberg?

1. BRAIN

DEMENTIA: Lead increases the risk of dementia, a study in the U.S. Journal of Epidemiology found. The toxic metal was used in paint and plumbing pipes up to the Seventies and is still found in many British homes. Search direct.gov. uk for advice on dealing with lead paint. If you have lead pipes, consider replacing them, and always run the cold tap for a few minutes before using water for drinking or cooking, as lead leaches into water when it is left sitting.

AUTISM: Organophosphates are found in many agricultural pesticides and increase the risk of autism. A study in the journal Molecular Psychiatry identified three gene variants which make some people more susceptible to neural damage caused by organophosphates; exposure to residues could be contributing to the increase in autism, said the researchers.

DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY: Other neurotoxins (chemicals which harm the brain) include mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs - both found in seafood. Children of women who've eaten large amounts of contaminated fish may have lower IQs and difficulty concentrating. Initially the problem was isolated to larger fish such as tuna, marlin, shark and swordfish (which feed off other fish, adding to their toxic load), but the chemicals have also been found in sea bream, sea bass, turbot, halibut, rock salmon and brown crab meat. The Food Standards Agency advises children and women of child-bearing age to limit their intake of oily fish because these toxins accumulate in fats - the usual advice is to stick to just two portions a week.

2. HEART

FURRED-UP ARTERIES: Studies have shown that poor air quality contributes to heart disease. A U.S. study found that people with raised levels of PM2.5 particles, found in car fumes, are most likely to have atherosclerosis - thickening of the arteries - which contributes to heart disease. These particles are also found in homes in built-up areas, but you can reduce levels with frequent vacuuming.

HEART DISEASE: Bisphenol A (BPA), the ingredient used in plastic food and drink packaging, increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes, according to researchers at the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter.

Look for the recycle signs on plastic bottles - that's the place you are most likely to see the triangle with a 7 inside, which indicates the presence of BPAs - and avoid the office water cooler.

Source - Daily Mail

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