It’s no secret that most adults in the US are bombarded with pollutants on a daily basis. But a recent study in Environment International has found that the chemical footprint of rich people’s bodies is very different from the toxins found in the middle and lower class. The study found that levels of mercury, arsenic, cesium, and thallium were all higher in more affluent subjects.
All those vacations to the beach are taking a toll, as well. It turns out the rich are soaking up toxic chemicals from sunscreen at a higher rate, including oxybenzone, which has been linked to hormone disruption and may be linked to skin cancer.
On the other hand, poorer Americans are more likely to smoke cigarettes and eat canned foods. That means they’re inhaling higher levels of lead and cadmium, and ingesting more BPA – a chemical found in many plastics and food containers. BPA’s health effects range from behavior issues in children to DNA damage and reproductive problems.
All in all, while wealthier people have access to better health care and higher quality foods, it seems climbing up the income ladder really just involves trading one set of toxic burdens for another.