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Our Polluted Bodies

Scientists have long tested the air, earth and water for pollutants?now they're testing human bodies. They've discovered that no matter how healthy a life you try to live, you can't help the fact that your body is filled with pesticides, flame retardants and other toxic chemicals.

Paul Elias writes in the Sacramento Bee that scientists are sampling urine, blood and mother's milk to determine which pollutants are accumulating in our bodies. They've found that even chemicals that have been banned for years, such as PCB and DDT, still remain in our body tissues. California researchers have discovered that women in the San Francisco area have three to 10 times as much chemical flame retardant in their breast tissue as European or Japanese women. Indiana researchers discovered that these levels in women and infants living in Indiana and California are 20 times higher than those in Sweden and Norway, where flame retardants were recently banned.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tested 2,500 volunteers for 116 pollutants and found chemicals such as mercury, uranium and cotinine, a chemical from nicotine, in their bodies. They found that Mexican-American children have three times the amount of a chemical derived from DDT, probably because Mexico and Latin America are still using it.

Before scientists can test for a particular chemical, they have to suspect that it may be lurking in our bodies. There are probably many pollutants in our bodies that have not yet been discovered.

Will we ever figure out how to clean up our world? Find out what the future will bring on when Whitley interviews John Hogue on this week's Dreamland.Subscribers can hear his New Year's predictions for 2004, and non-subscribers can listen to the first 10 minutes of the interview by clicking "Listen Now" on our masthead.

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