For some reason, British researchers were interested in which poisons Americans’ bodies contain. What they found surprised them.
A team from the University of Exeter found that being wealthy doesn’t mean you live in a nontoxic environment. Actually, it means you have a higher risk of exposure to certain chemicals, U.S. News & World Report says.
Using data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the researchers looked for associations between income level and 179 toxins found in the body. “The researchers found that, among 18 toxins that appeared to be associated with income, half were more likely to be present in richer Americans than those at the bottom of the socioeconomic spectrum,” U.S. News says. Here are some of the chemicals wealthier people had higher levels of:
- Perfluorinated chemicals.
These likely come from sources like fish and shellfish consumption, dental fillings, and fresh or home-grown fruits and vegetables, U.S. News says. Wealthy people also have higher levels of BP3, a toxin from sunscreen that may actually increase the risk of skin cancer, Quartz says.
Here’s what poorer people are more likely to encounter:
- Toxins in plastic.
These chemicals probably come from smoking, poor air and water quality, or jobs in construction, manufacturing and other industrial settings.
“In some ways, in moving up the economic ladder Americans are simply trading one set of environmental toxins for another,” Quartz says.
But despite the findings, the risks are far from equal, U.S. News says. For the wealthier class, many toxins are avoidable: More money can be spent on higher quality products with fewer chemicals, and they can live in less toxic neighborhoods. For the working class, many toxins are an inescapable fact of life.