Types and Sources of Toxins

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Endogenous and Exogenous Toxins
Organic and Inorganic Toxins
     Inorganic Toxins
     Organic Toxins
Toxic Elements - Heavy Metals
Sources of Exogenous Toxins
     Where do Exogenous Toxins come from?
     Accumulation of Toxins in the Body
     Mercury in the Food Chain
Case Studies
     Relative Rates of Decomposition
     Historical Mercury Poisoning - Hat Making and Minamata Disease
     Mercury Levels in Women
     Mercury Amalgam Fillings and other Dental Issues
           Mercury Amalgam Fillings
           Amalgam Filling Removal
           Alternatives to Amalgam Fillings - Composite and Ceramic Fillings
           Other Metals in the Mouth - Implants and Osteotomies
           Use of Bisphenol A in Dentistry
     Mercury and Vaccination
     Mercury and CFL Lighting
     Fluoride in Toothpaste and Drinking Water
     Arsenic in Chicken Feed
     Aspartame, Additives and Soft Drinks
     Plastic Containers and Bottles
     Canned Foods
     Cigarette Smoke

Last Updated: 18 November 2013

Endogenous and Exogenous Toxins:

There are two types of toxins, endogenous and exogenous toxins.

It could be argued that the toxins expelled by bad bacteria and fungi (e.g. Candida albicans) into the digestive tract, which are distributed round the body by the blood stream, are a form of exogenous toxin, even though they originate from within the body - as they are not produced by the body's own 'natural' biochemical processes. However, if bad bacteria and fungi species are inside the body, then any poisons they produce could be argued to be endotoxins. Such excretions are thus classifed as 'exotoxins' and are examined further down below.

Technically speaking, there is a third category of toxins, known as autogenous toxins. These are the toxins that one is born with, in the form of pathogens or toxic compounds, generally from environmental/dietary exposure over multiple generations. As discussed on the
Causes and Effects page, these are usually passed down from the maternal line, from the mother to the baby in the womb. However, these are in a sense just exogenous toxins that happen to be absorbed from the mother rather than from the environment.

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Organic and Inorganic Toxins:


To understand what the different types of toxins are that can accumulate in the body and thus how they can be removed, one first has to go back to basics and understand the different between inorganic and organic chemistry. Inorganic chemistry is concerned with:

As explored on the causes and effects page, exogenous toxins can come from a variety of sources. Some of these are listed below. It is estimated that the body is exposed to over 200 different synthesized (organic) chemicals per day from toiletry products, cosmetics and food additives. Some of the substances are not that toxic, but can tend to stick to cell membranes and interfere with biochemical processes. Others more directly interfere with the endocrine system and biochemical processes.

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Sources of Exogenous Toxins:
Where do Exogenous Toxins come from?

We absorb toxins from:

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Accumulation of Toxins:

A 2004 study by the WWF of the blood of 14 EU Ministers from 13 EU member countries found that on average each volunteer had 37 toxic chemicals in his blood of the 103 different parameters being tested for. This is not to say that other toxic chemicals were present that were not included in the test remit.


Statistics from the Vietnam War show the differential rates of decomposition amongst human bodies. Vietnamese bodies started to decompose within 24 to 48 hours of death. In contrast, bodies of Americans (in Vietnam) did not start to decompose until 4 or 5 days after death. This was no doubt due to the high levels of toxins accumulated in the human body in American residents in the 1960s which slow down the rate of decomposition.

To further illustrate to extent of toxicity in modern lifestyles, decomposition now starts only after 7 to 10 days after death. In addition, twice as much formaldehyde was needed to embalm a person's body 20 years, compared to now. The implication of this is that the toxins and chemicals present in the dead person's body help to preserve the body longer than a body without toxins, heavy metals and chemicals present. Mould will grow at a slower rate (if at all) in a solution containing high levels of mercury or lead, for example. So one can imagine the effect carrying around all these toxins is having on one's own cells whilst one is alive!

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According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), in 2002, U.S. alone released 2.1 million tonnes (4.7 billion pounds) of toxins into the earth's atmosphere. The EPA also estimates that fine-particle pollution causes an estimated 20,000 premature deaths in the U.S. each year. According to a study conducted by the University of Michigan, one ton of oil is spilled (in the ocean) for every million tons transported. Whilst a low percentage, if we think about how much oil is consumed, this is still quite a significant figure. An estimated 7 million people become sick and more than 1,000 die in the USA every year from waterborne microbes.

If we go back in time to before man became industrialised, then the vast majority of the aforementioned toxins would not be present. Of course, some other types of toxin may be present on account of lifestyle and ignorance, for example excessive smoke inhalation for those living in cold climates and sitting around fires so often, eating burnt or mouldy food, drinking alcohol and smoking etc. Medical care, hygiene and food availability were probably also major factors to a lower life expectancy.

Below is a link to a time line of the last century, entitled the 'Slippery Slope Index', containing statistics regarding mortality rates and health problems, and relating these to the changes in agriculture, the rise of mass production techniques (e.g. use of growth hormones and antibiotics in cattle/poultry populations; irradiation; crop spraying; food additives), the rise of processed/convenience foods and increase in saturated fat content of the average meal, the decrease in average fibre content and intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, decrease in exercise taken, the introduction of petrochemical products, the use of pharmaceutical drugs. Clearly, it is up to the individual as to how to interpret these figures, but they do paint a rather disturbing picture about modern dietary and health (mal)practices and their huge cost on modern populations. The information was compiled by Randall Fitzgerald in his slightly controversial (but factual) book 'The Hundred-Year Lie: How to Protect Yourself from the Chemicals That Are Destroying Your Health' (2007).


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Mercury in the Food Chain:

Mercury, as other elements in the periodic table at the top of this page, does not break down. It occurs naturally and is found in tiny amounts in oceans, rocks and soil. It becomes airbourne when rocks break down through erosion, volcanoes erupt and when soil decomposes. It then circulates in the environment and is redistributed.

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) recently stated (in 2005) that mercury can be transported in the atmosphere and oceans around the globe thousands of miles from where it is emitted. A UNEP report also states that coal-fired power stations and waste incinerators presently account for 1,500 tons, or 70%, of new quantified man-made mercury emissions to the atmosphere. Restrictions on pollution from power stations and incinerators could help to curb such emissions. But don't hold your breath!

In 1989, it was estimated that used household batteries made up approximately 86% of all dumped mercury, i.e. refined mercury or mercury derivatives that are used in industrial products and then dumped, often in domestic waste and not recycled or disposed of as a special consolidation. Dumped mercury often seeps into the ground water, polluting local water supplies. The sale of mercury oxide batteries is now banned in some countries, and restricted in other countries. For example, the USA banned mercury oxide batteries except for up to 25mg of mercury per button cell battery in the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act in 1996.

Other sources of mercury contaimination, either from the manufacture of, use of or dumping of (usually into landfill or industrial effluent): laboratory reagents and equipment, electrodes (e.g. Calomel electrode), thermometers, barometers, dental applications (mercury amalgam fillings), paints, electrical appliances, mercurial diuretics, fluorescent lamps, cosmetics, hair dyes, the manufacture and delivery of petroleum products, and also fungicides and pesticides. Although the usage in fungicides and pesticides have decreased due to environmental concerns, mercury residues still persist in the environment (i.e. air, water, soil etc.) from past use.

Large amounts of mercury become airbourne when oil, coal, wood and natural gas are burned, or when waste containing mercury is incinerated. Once airbourne, mercury falls to the ground with rain and snow, landing on water or soil, thereby causing contamination. Lakes and rivers are also directly polluted by the discharge of mercury-laden industrial and municipal waste into them. Once in a body of water, the inorganic mercury (usually Mercuric Chloride) is converted into organic mercury in the form of methylmercury (CH3Hg) by bacteria through chelation and other processes (methylation - addition of a methyl-group) - inside aquatic biota and also sediments. Organic mercury is many hundred times more toxic than inorganic mercury. Fish absorb the methylmercury from their food source and from the water as it passes over their gills. Mercury is bound tightly to proteins in all tissues in fish. For example, below is an article by Daphine Zuniga about her mercury poisoning from a high fish diet.


According to Doctor's Data (Urine Toxic Metals Test Report), based on various academic reference sources, the human intake of dietary mercury (specifically) is negligible (with the exception of fish), unless the food is contaminated with one of the above sources. A daily diet of fish can result in 1-10 micrograms of mercury to be ingested per day, with about 3/4 of this as methylmercury.

Below is an on line tool to calculate the maximum 'safe' weekly tuna intake depending on your sex and weight, assuming that you eat no other types of fish (which is of course not recommended, as tuna and swordfish are the two fish types highest in mercury).


Inorganic mercury (mercuric salts or mercuric oxide) is converted into organic mercury, either methylmercury or ethylmercury (C2H5Hg) in the gastro intestinal tract by bacteria where it can be more readily absorbed by the tissues including the brain. If amalgam fillings are leaking, the mercury they emit is inorganic. This mercury tends to build up in the large intestine where it is converted to organic mercury. More information on amalgam fillings can be found in the Mercury Amalgam Fillings section.

Quoting from the 2007 paper 'Integrative Medicine and the Role of Modified Citrus Pectin/Alginates in Heavy Metal Chelation and Detoxification: Five Case Reports' by Isaac Eliaz, Elaine Weil and Barry Wilk:


'One of the major issues with heavy metals, especially mercury, is the high percentage of reabsorption through the gut. While elemental mercury is poorly absorbed through the gut, its organic methylated form is highly absorbed (90-95% absorption). The non-organic elemental mercury excreted through the bile is often methylated by abnormal bacteria or yeast in the gut resulting in re-absorption of methylated mercury. Organic mercury (from fish and seafood) and elemental mercury absorbed from various pollutants can also be absorbed through the digestive tract. The methylated mercury can pass the blood-brain barrier, and exert its toxic effects in the brain either as methylated mercury, or after being demethylated in the brain, as elemental mercury.'

Paul Cutler argues that both inorganic and organic mercury can be harmful, just in different ways. Organic mercury is not harmful to the kidneys but easily crosses the blood brain barrier. Inorganic mercury is much more harmful but cannot easily cross the blood brain barrer. The half life of conversion of organic to inrganic mercury is approximately 44 days. It is estimated that approximately 5-10% of the total amount of organic mercury consumed ends up in the brain as inorganic mercury (i.e. converting from organic to inorganic form which does the actual damage). Inorganic mercury is very poorly absorbed by the digestive tract, and the liver and gallbladder excrete mercury from the body in its inorganic form.



It is thought that the significant heavy metal levels present in certain fish species means that those who feed regularly on fish, i.e. chickens and their eggs (and some people) may be higher in their mercury concentrations.

Mercury is actually 13 times heavier than water, but is not actually 'wet'. Iron objects float on top of mercury.

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Other Heavy Metals

Sources of other heavy metals include:

Source: Trace Minerals International, www.tracemin.com.

Doctor's Data's Urine Toxic Metals report further lists sources of Lead contamination and toxicity:

Most of the Lead contamination occurs from oral ingestion of contaminated food or water, or by children eating or mouthing lead-containing substances/objects. The degree of absorption of orally ingested lead depends on the stomach contents (an empty stomach increases the likelihood of absorption) and upon the body's general mineral status (deficiencies of Calcium, Zinc or Iron can significantly increase lead uptake; sufficent levels can offer a degree of protection). The degree of absorption from transdermal exposure is slight, although if one touches an object then touches the mouth, then there may be a chance of oral ingestion. Chances of inhalation of lead pollution has decreased significantly in most modern countries with the advent of non-Leaded fuels, except of course in those countries that still use Leaded petrol, e.g. China.

One can speculate about the degree of potential Lead contamination of food that may occur in pots and pans that have a lead base, sealed into the stainless steel, to improve even thermal conduction and provide a 'lag' in the heating from the cooker. An example could be a saucepan by 'Prestige'. Whilst the lead base is sealed into the stainless steel, these saucepans are supposed to be handled with care when cooling and cleaning, as there is considerable heat trapped inside the base of the saucepan or pot when it is removed from the heat, and they are supposed to be cooled down before any water is poured into them for washing up. One can offset this temperature differential to an extent by pouring very hot water into them, if something is burning or sticking to the bottom, but in general terms one should avoid sudden cooling as this may 'damage' the pan. To what extent this might cause micro-cracking of the steel and lead to escape, one can but speculate. I doubt the manufacturer would be willing to help in this regard! Plain stainless stee pans do not have this problem (are more susceptible to food sticking or burning on the bottom if on a high heat) and nor do Ceramic pots and pans.

Please see the following chart, provided by Metametrix, for a list of toxic elements and their sources. It examines Aluminium, Antimony, Arsenic, Barium, Bismuth, Cadmium, Caesium, Gallium, Gadolinium, Germanium, Lead, Mercury, Nickel, Niobium, Platinum, Rhodium, Tellurium, Thallium and Thorium.


Simply left click, or right click and select 'Save Target'). Viewing this chart requires Adobe Reader. If you do not have this, please download it from the following link.


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Case Studies:

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Arsenic in Chicken Feed:

Arsenic is a heavy metal and is shown in its metallic elemental form in the picture above.

An arsenic derivative (roxarsone) is in fact added to chicken feed since the 1960s in the USA, to produce bigger and 'happier' (i.e. more docile) chickens.

'A study by Duquesne University researchers has found that the organic arsenic added to chicken feed is chemically transformed into inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen, much more quickly than previously thought. Organic arsenic is added to the feed of some 70 percent of the 7 billion roasters grown annually in the United States. The inorganic arsenic is found in poultry waste, which is used as fertilizer. That increases the risk that the inorganic arsenic will contaminate surface water and groundwater drinking supplies in farming areas where the chicken litter fertilizer is spread repeatedly, said John Stolz, professor of biology at Duquesne and co-author of the study reported in January in the peer-reviewed Environmental Science & Technology Online News.

"What goes into the ground is very different from the compound in the chicken feed," Mr. Stolz said. "That the organic arsenic transforms much faster means we could get a bolus of the stuff going through the groundwater aquifer."

Chicken producers in the United States use approximately 2.2 million pounds a year of a single arsenic feed additive, roxarsone, to control intestinal parasites, improve meat color, reduce stress and stimulate growth during the chickens' six-week life span. More than 95 percent of the additive is excreted unchanged in the chicken waste, which is regularly applied as fertilizer to surrounding farm fields.

It was previously thought that the inorganic arsenic formed slowly in the waste applied to fields, but the Duquesne study by Mr. Stolz and Duquesne environmental chemist Partha Basu found bacteria accelerated the conversion, which occurs in as little as a week.

Chronic exposure to inorganic arsenic is known to cause cancer and has been linked to heart disease, diabetes and declines in brain functions.

While arsenic occurs naturally in the environment, it is also a byproduct of coal-burning power plants and industries, some mining operations and copper smelting. The addition of arsenic to the environment by those industrial sources is closely scrutinized and controlled, and its use in pesticides and as a preservative in pressure-treated wood has been banned because of health concerns and the difficulty of removing it from the environment. And the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is re-evaluating its approval of organic arsenic applications on golf courses to control weeds.

But its use in the meat industry has attracted attention only in recent years. One study discovered arsenic-laced fertilizer dust inside the homes of farm communities where the chicken litter-based fertilizer was applied. Because chicken production is geographically concentrated, the arsenic-contaminated waste creates a disposal problem and exposes more people to more arsenic.'


Free range chickens tend to be allowed to eat up to 30% of their calorific intake from grass. As grass is very low in calories, this is a large amount of grass. Fish-meal is frequently fed to chickens, which in general results in much healthier animals (on account of the protein quality and essential fatty acid content).


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Soft Drinks: Acidity, Additives and Aspartame:

pH is a scale measuring the concentration of Hydrogen ions (protons) in a given solution. It ranges from 0.00 to 14.99, where the former value is extremely acidic and the latter value is extremely alkaline. pH 7 is neutral. Soft drinks have an average pH of 2.5 - 3.4, which is extremely acidic. The body's natural pH is around 7.4, which is slightly alkaline. pH is a logarithmic scale. A pH of 6 is 10 times more acidic than a pH of 7. Therefore the average soft drink is 10,000 times more acidic than the rest of the body! One can therefore see that drinking additional fluids will not dilute down this acidity very much! Acidic conditions can render a body much more susceptible to fungus, parasite and bad bacteria overgrowth, immune system dysfunction, mitochondrial dysfuction and general ill-health. In general terms, the more acidic the body is, the more unhealthy it is. So not only are soft drinks a source of chemical toxicity (including Caffeine), they are also very damaging to your body's pH balance. Please think of this next time you think of buying your children large bottles of Coca Cola. Is this really a sign of love and 'looking after' your children?

There is even evidence to suggest that consuming soft drinks from cans stored in very hot conditions (e.g. in Kuwaiti desert in Operation Desert Storm) is a significant factor in Gulf War Syndrome, on account of aspartame degradation etc. And it is not surprising. The effects of GWS are believed by many to be due largely to a variety of chemical toxins accumulating in the body. Perhaps contact with spent uranium bullets was another factor; or inhalation of vast amounts of crude oil smoke. It is likely that a full detoxification programme would help sufferers of GWS.

Aspartame can also be found in other consumer products such as probiotic yoghurt drinks, vitamins, etc. When purchasing any such product, one should always read the label! Please see the for more information on the potential adverse health effects of aspartame.

Below is an informative link giving 10 reasons as to why you should avoid drinking soft drinks.


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Plastic containers and bottles:

An examination of which plastics used in purchased food and drink products packaging potentially leach cacinocgenic or hormone disrupting chemicals is found at the links below.


Plastic bottles with a 1 or 7 in the triangle on the bttom of the bottle are those that may leach organic toxic compounds into the water. It is also generally good practice not to re-use clear plastic drinking bottles but dispose of them for recycling instead or otherwise after use. You may not ice a difference in taste when water is stored in re-used clear plastic bottles.


An article about Bisphenol A in Plastic Bottles can be found at the link below.

Those who are considering orthodontic work should consider the fact that as well as the gum recession, they will need to wear plastic retainers on most nights in bed to fight the body's natural genetic memory which moves the teeth back to their original positions.


A wearing schedule suggested has been for the first 6 months after removing braces, to wear the retainers all the time (except during meals and when drinking acidic drinks). The next 6 months, wear them at night only. The next 6 months after that, wear them 3 nights a week, and for the remainder of your life, wear them one night a week only. The advice I received personally was to wear them initially 7 nights a week and gradually reduce this to one night a week. I have found even after several years that there is considerable movement of the teeth in between the weekly wears, and the teeth aching and feeling less secure after each nightly wear for half a day or so, meaning the teeth are being moved backwards and forwards, shallowing the roots gradually over time.

Vacuum form retainers are worn on both upper and lower teeth (as per above schedule). They are usually made of softer plastics, which tend to leach more. Unlike with plastic bottles, retainers are reused regularly, and the amount of leaching of BPA and other compounds is likely to increase over time. I noticed that after a year or so, the retainers, even when kept clean, could only be worn for so many hours a night before the taste in the mouth became too disgusting. This is a sign of leaching. It is likely that some organic toxins are ingested in this manner, through swallowing or sublingually directly into the bloodstream. Orthodontists will vary in the advice they give regarding how often retainers shoulld be replaced. If they are not kept clean properly and cleaned meticulously (and regularly soaked in vinegar), then there is an additional mould problem. At present, I am not aware of any type of non-plastic retainer available to take the place of current retainer materials for the top and bottom teeth, and as a result cannot recommend orthodontics in general as the fundamental maintenance premise is based on ingesting carcinogenic compounds over a lifetime (let alone other reasons).

Please see the Amalgam Fillings section above for a discussion of mandibular osteotomy and other surgical advancement operations that often accompany orthodontics.

Composite fillings may also present a similar leaching problem, but of course, they are there 24 hours a day, albeit much smaller in size and made of slightly different materials (i.e. much harder materials less likely to leach.

A recent study of 10 'racial and ethnic minority' babies by 5 indepedent research laboratories in the USA, Canada and the Netherlands has shown that up to 232 toxic chemicals were found in each baby, providing firm evidence that each baby was subjected to a host of dangerous substances whilst still in the mother's womb (i.e. absorbed directly from the mother's cumulative toxicity levels or daily exposure to these chemicals), including Bisphenol A (BPA), Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), Galaxolide and Tonalide, Perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA or C4) and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs).



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Canned Foods:

Canned foods were first introduced in the 19th Century, where they were seen as a novelty and luxury food item by the middle classes. In early canned foods, lead was used as the solder, resulting in cases of lead poisoning in canned foods containing moist or liquid foods. The most famous case was the 1845 Franklin expedition of the Northwest Passage. The basic construction of older cans is a cylindrical segment and two flat pieces for the top and bottom, made of tin coated iron, and soldered on using Lead. The tin coating meant the iron was not rusted away by the food and that tin was preferentially leached into the food rather than iron. Tin is not know to cause significant toxicity problems. Lead soldering has largely, although not completely, been replaced by other types of can construction such as welded double seams. Modern cans use tin coated stainless steel rather than wrought iron. Lead soldering still remains on 3.7% of US cans, according to the NFPA. These tend to be for dried foods where there is less likelihood of the lead leaching into the food. Imported cans may however employ lead soldering on them, so it is wise to check. Please see the links below regarding lead use in tin cans.



Approximately half of tin cans use an epoxy resin coating inside the can, which gives the lining its smooth, non-metallic appearance. It is used to minimise bacterial growth inside certain canned food stuffs. This epoxy resin contains the known toxic chemical Bisphenol A (BPA). Approximately 10% of such cans contain levels of BPA that greatly exceed recommended safety levels. This appears to be more prevalent amongst Infant Formulas.

The tin on the right uses a BPA-based epoxy resin which can be seen from the white lining of the can and the lid. The tin on the left uses the more prevalent tin lining, which can be seen from its shiny, metallic appearance.


Please see the Mercury Amalgams section above for more information on Bisphenol A.

Arguably, tinned or canned organic foods are a misnomer. Whilst the food in question was 'organic' when put into the tins, their concentrations of toxic chemicals may have significantly increased when emerging from the tin for consumption. The same could be argued for Organic Foods that are sold in soft plastic packaging, which is probably less of an issue.

Other risks from non-acidic canned foods, e.g. meat, fish, mushrooms etc. include the potential for proliferation of the bacteria behind botulism if they are left for too long or if the cans themselves are dented or deformed which can affect the seals. This bacterial strain is especially heat resistant, and is normally killed by heat treatment of canned foods at 121C for 3 minutes.


As the tin lining of a can is there to prevent the oxidation of the steel can, it is a bad idea to store food in the can in the fridge after opening, as the Tin lining will oxidise at a much greater rate now that it is exposed to air.

Using a can to cook the contents in over a fire (e.g. travellers or camping) is an extremely bad idea, whether the lining of the can is tin or BPA, as in both cases, these products will end up in your food in much high concentrations than normal - because of the high temperature at the outside of the can and excessive oxidation of the lining.

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Cigarette Smoke:

Cigarette smoke contains a variety of heavy metals (such as Arsenic, Cadmium, Mercury and Lead), as well as a variety of organic toxic compounds such as formaldehyde. For example, one cigarette's worth of smoke (side stream smoke, e.g. passive smoking) is estimated to contain 1000 micrograms of Mercury, 500 micrograms of Lead, 700 micrograms of Formaldehyde (compared with 20-90 micrograms in mainstream smoke), etc. Cigarette smoke is thought to contain at least 60 known carcinogenic compounds of a total of 4700 chemical compounds.


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