Academic journal article The American Biology Teacher

Homo Toxicus

Academic journal article The American Biology Teacher

Homo Toxicus

Article excerpt

Homo Toxicus (DVD, 2008, 88 minutes, Bullfrog Films, http://www.bullfrogfilms. com)

When humans discovered fire, it was progress. More discoveries followed, and now progress is symbolized by 100,000 industrial chemicals developed in the past 70-80 years, compounds that have found their way into the environment and into the bodies of living organisms, including humans. Blood tests reveal that people harbor numerous toxic chemicals, including heavy metals, dioxins, fluorocarbons, and even DDT. Our bodies, having become accustomed to exposure to contaminants, resist them in small amounts. But the basic principle of toxicology is that it is the dose that makes a chemical poisonous and, as toxin levels increase, problems can result.

Pollutants are everywhere--in plastics, toys, nonstick cookware, household cleaners, and as preservatives in a variety of products. Much of our food is contaminated. Meat may contain several hormones, and pesticides are frequently found on vegetables and fruits. Many toxins enter the water and travel up the food chain to humans.

Environmental poisons can affect several body systems. Some alter gene expression at low levels; others block hormone receptors. Allergies and attention deficit disorders are linked to contaminant exposure. Reproductive anomalies, changes in sperm quality, and diminished fertility have been observed in many animals and even in humans, sometimes resulting from prenatal pesticide exposure.

This 88-minute program is conveniently divided into 25 short scenes. It has subtitles that can be turned on or off and includes 45 minutes of interviews with scientists and environmentalists. …

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