Heavy metals are the oldest toxins known to humans. Environmental exposure to aluminum, lead, mercury, cadmium, and manganese cause serious health problems by interaction with biological systems. We are exposed to environmental toxins every day. Below is a list of common environmental toxins, including where they are found and their harmful effects. more

  • Heavy Metals

  • PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls)

  • Dioxins

  • Pesticides

  • Phthalates

  • VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)

  • Asbestos

  • Chlorine

  • Chloroform

  • Lead

  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

  • Arsenic

  • Cadmium

  • Non-metallic inorganics

  • Synthetic organic chemicals (SOCs)

  • Radioactive materials

  • Chlorine and its by-products

  • Fluoride

 VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds:tend to be even higher (two to five times) in indoor air than outdoor air, likely because they are present in so many household products.Major Sources: Drinking water, carpet, paints, deodorants, cleaning fluids, varnishes, cosmetics, dry cleaned clothing, moth repellants, air fresheners. More

 Phthalates: These chemicals are used to lengthen the life of fragrances and soften plastics.Major Sources: Plastic wrap, plastic bottles, plastic food storage containers. All of these can leach phthalates into our food.

Mycotoxins (fungal toxins) can cause a range of health problems with exposure to only a small amount.Major Sources: Contaminated buildings, food like peanuts, wheat, corn and alcoholic beverages.

60 per cent of herbicides, 90 per cent of fungicides and 30 per cent of insecticides are known to be carcinogenic. Pesticide residues have been detected in 50 per cent to 95 per cent of U.S. foods.  Major Sources: Food (fruits, vegetables and commercially raised meats), bug sprays.

PCBs Major Source: Farm-raised salmon. Most farm-raised salmon, which accounts for most of the supply in the United States, are fed meals of ground-up fish that have absorbed PCBs in the environment.


 Committing to cooking whole foods from scratch, alongside careful meal planning, home gardening and food preservation, can largely counteract the cost of organic food purchases. The process is gradual. Change takes time. And all of us have to work within our budgets.

Not everyone can afford to eat organically and cleanly, so there have been many groups and individuals who have put togethr a list of must buy organic and safe foodsthats where the dirty dozen and the clean 15 come into play. The list is a resource to help you make the best choices for your health and for the earth, whatever your current budget or state of greenness.  more