Plastics Chemical Weakens Killer Cells

The chemical tributyltin (TBT) is used in antifouling paints, as a catalyst and in marine applications. It is also used in common PVC plastics. The chemical’s effect on the immune system of laboratory animals was studied at the University of California and reported in the 1990 journal Environmental Research. Their investigation found that laboratory animals fed even very small levels of the chemical (10 and 100 parts per billion) for only one week caused a 38% and 46% reduction of Natural Killer cell activity (Natural Killer cells attack virus infected cells and cancer cells). The researchers stated this inhibition of immune activity may "predispose the animals to malignancy."  PVC plastics are now routinely used in the U.S. and other countries as the main water pipe bringing water into homes built after 1980 and have been found to leach small levels of PVC into the water.


Hidden Chemical Contamination

Another very toxic chemical group is called halogenated polyaromatic hydrocarbons - a fancy name for chemicals such as dioxin, PCB’s, PBB’s, hexachlorobenzene and pentchlorophenol. Dioxin has been found as a by-product in some pesticides such as the common lawn fungicide Daconil and also forms when plastics containing chlorine are burned. Dioxin is also a routine contaminant in many products "whitened" by chlorine treatment such as paper towels, toilet paper coffee filters and tampons. PCB’s were used as a coolant in electrical transformers. Hexachlorobenzene was once used as a disinfectant in hand soaps and pentachlorophenol is presently used to make pressure treated wood. In 1973 an accident happened where the chemical PBB contaminated cattle feed in Michigan. Local farmers and Michigan residents who consumed these dairy products were found to have PBB’s in their blood. Immune system investigation found that 34% of farm workers and nearly 60% of PBB manufacturing workers had a reduction in T-cell lymphocyte numbers.