Finding: Diet, not environment, the best indicator of “personal pollution levels”

Posted on September 7th, 2010 by

From an article in Chemical Engineering News: Research directed by Emma Undeman, a Swedish chemical engineering student, and Frank Wania, an environmental chemist at the University of Toronto, Scarborough, shows that diet  is a “key factor” in determining the load of pollutants that a given individual will carry. The region of the world in which one lives is also a significant factor. The researchers developed a “pollution susceptibility index” to rank the differences in risk among regions.

Their findings showed that Arctic inhabitants eating a diet in which seal plays a large role were 520 times more susceptible to some pollutants than were persons eating a mixed diet in the temperate zones. Marine mammals’ long lives, and their diets (which include predatory fish) mean that their bodies accumulate considerable levels of these pollutants.

Temperate zone vegans were the least susceptible to pollution risks.


One Comment

  1. Carolyn O'Grady says:

    Wow – this is very interesting, and disturbing. Clearly there is data about health and food specific to a region, cultural group, etc. But I have been recently thinking about my own individual needs in regard to nutrition, and what is truly a “need” versus a want, and how to give my body the food it craves without getting too caught up in value judgments about it. I love this Nobel topic, and am enjoying this blog. Thanks.