Has Asbestos Bioaccumulation Contaminated Our Food?

Has Asbestos Bioaccumulation Contaminated Our Food?

Has Asbestos Bioaccumulation Contaminated Our Food?

In the late 1980s, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned all new uses of asbestos because it was proven to be a human carcinogen. Asbestos has been found in industrial products, homes, buildings, consumer products, cosmetics, etc. There is even concern that asbestos may have contaminated the food we eat through bioaccumulation.

What is Bioaccumulation?
Bioaccumulation occurs when chemicals are ingested by and accumulate inside animals’ bodies. It is a danger with toxic substances. Hazardous chemicals can move through our food chain, be eaten by humans, and adversely affect our health. For example, a large animal that eats plants or smaller animals or fish can inherit all the substances, toxic or not, that those plants absorbed or smaller animals ate.

“Persistent chemicals” are toxic substances that can be eaten or absorbed by living beings. Persistent chemicals include dioxins, DDT, mercury, and PCBs. The fat in plants, animals, and people can absorb chemicals such as DDT and mercury. These chemicals don’t naturally degrade over time.

Similarities Between Asbestos and Persistent Chemicals
Both are toxic substances. Persistent chemical pollution has many adverse effects, including increased risk of cancer, disturbances of our hormone system, nervous system, and reproductive system, and increased risk of miscarriage and birth defects.

Asbestos exposure has proven to cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, cancer in the membrane surrounding the lungs and other vital internal organs. These cancers don’t develop immediately but will only appear after many years. It can take 10 to 40 years between exposure to asbestos and the onset of mesothelioma.  Once contracted, there is no known cure for mesothelioma, and the average life expectancy is less than five years.Additionally, asbestos and persistent chemicals both do not break down. Like persistent chemicals, asbestos does not decompose. Asbestos is not water soluble, does not evaporate, and is resistant to heat, fire, chemicals, and biological degradation.

How Asbestos is Different Than Persistent Chemicals
Asbestos is not a chemical. It is a group of silicate minerals naturally occurring in the earth. Persistent chemicals are manufactured formulations.

Plants and living things don’t absorb asbestos. Asbestos enters the body primarily through the inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers. If you inhale asbestos fibers, some of the fibers will enter the air passages and land on the cells that make up your lungs. Fibers entering the deepest parts of the lung may move through your lungs and can remain lodged there for many years. If you swallow asbestos fibers, nearly all the fibers flow through the intestines and exit in the feces. Some fibers might penetrate the stomach or intestines get into your bloodstream. These fibers become lodged in other tissues or are flushed out in your urine.

Animals can also breathe in or ingest asbestos dust, but it generally won’t accumulate in muscle or fat. It does not threaten food chains because it accumulates by getting stuck in body tissue, especially in and around the lungs. While medicine and science have learned a lot about the causes and effects of asbestos on the human body, there is still much we do not know. No data is available on asbestos levels found in the tissues of edible organisms.

Suppose you or someone you love has contracted mesothelioma or another disease due to asbestos exposure. In that case, you have the right to file a claim against the at-fault company or companies. Contact us today to learn how we can help you!

Sources:
“Asbestos Questions” Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services [Link]
“Eat Safe Fish” Michigan Department of Community Health [Link]
“Effects of Chemical Pollution on Humans” The World Counts [Link]
“Asbestos and Health: Frequently Asked Questions” Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry [Link]
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