Toxic dichlorobenzene linked to early puberty in girls
Our toxic environment is changing our bodies, literally. The age girls are experiencing their first menstruations has shifted dramatically over the last 100 years. When I experienced this first hand as a teacher (a first grader got her period!), I blamed hormones in milk products, but it's not that simple. There are many chemicals contributing to earlier periods, and a new one has just been identified.
Over the last 100 years, the average age when puberty arrives fell from around 16 to 17 years of age to 12. It continues to drop. Experts say some of this can be attributed to better health. And some of it has to do with high rates of childhood obesity. But there's a growing body of scientific evidence linking it to a variety of toxins.
The newest villian is dichlorobenzene. This chemical vaporizes into the air and is commonly used in air freshener, mothballs, and solid toilet bowl deodorizers. It's harmful to the liver, kidneys, and respiratory tract. The study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that girls with higher levels of dichlorobenzene in their urine had their first period seven months earlier than girls with lower levels. An earlier CDC study found residue of this chemical in nearly every person they tested. Personally, I don't know anyone who uses air fresheners, already associated with other health problems but apparently sales are booming. Even if we never use products containing this chemical in our homes, they are often found in public buildings. Awareness is important. So is an outright ban, now being discussed by the European Chemicals Agency.
It is crazy to think of what chemicals are bodies host from products we do not even use. We are only just beginning to see the consequences to our health.
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Posted by Jennifer Lance at September 13, 2012 9:48 AM