“Banned” TED Talk: Five Habits for Immune Health with Zandra Palma, MD

About the content: What does your immediate environment have to do with the function of your immune system? More than you think. Environmental Medicine doctor Zandra Palma MD explains why you should take the plastic lid off of your coffee cup and suggests four other small habits that can drastically improve the health of your immune system as well as that of our planet.

This talk was given at TEDx Dalt Villa in Ibiza, Spain in March 2023. The video was subsequently censored by TED, released on a private link, and accompanied by a statement discrediting the science and the speaker. Read more about the ban here. Read about the speaker, Zandra Palmer, MD, here.


Brominated flame retardants were first created in the 1970s to prevent burning in household electronics and appliances. Most people contact these compounds in their everyday lives because they are used in so many products. These compounds have been linked to cancer, diabetes, neurobehavioral and developmental disorders, and reproductive health problems. Scientists have recently found these chemicals detected in the breast milk of 50 people in the United States, presenting risks of transfer of toxic bromophenols to babies who are breastfed.

Abstract: Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are a class of compounds with many persistent, toxic, and bioaccumulative members. BFRs have been widely detected in breast milk, posing health risks for breastfeeding infants. Ten years after the phaseout of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the United States, we analyzed breast milk from 50 U.S. mothers for a suite of BFRs to assess current exposures to BFRs and the impact of changing use patterns on levels of PBDEs and current-use compounds in breast milk. Compounds analyzed included 37 PBDEs, 18 bromophenols, and 11 other BFRs. A total of 25 BFRs were detected, including 9 PBDEs, 8 bromophenols, and 8 other BFRs. PBDEs were found in every sample but at concentrations considerably lower than in previous North American samples, with a median ∑PBDE concentration (sum of 9 detected PBDEs) of 15.0 ng/g lipid (range 1.46–1170 ng/g lipid). Analysis of time trends in PBDE concentrations in North American breast milk indicated a significant decline since 2002, with a halving time for ∑PBDE concentrations of 12.2 years; comparison with previous samples from the northwest U.S region showed a 70% decline in median levels. Bromophenols were detected in 88% of samples with a median ∑12bromophenol concentration (sum of 12 detected bromophenols) of 0.996 ng/g lipid and reaching up to 71.1 ng/g lipid. Other BFRs were infrequently detected but concentrations reached up to 278 ng/g lipid. These results represent the first measurement of bromophenols and other replacement flame retardants in breast milk from U.S. mothers. In addition, these results provide data on current PBDE contamination in human milk, as PBDEs were last measured in U.S. breast milk ten years ago. The presence of phased-out PBDEs, bromophenols, and other current-use flame retardants in breast milk reflects ongoing prenatal exposure and increased risk for adverse impacts on infant development.

Scientists have found that microwaving plastic baby food containers and pouches can release huge numbers of plastic particles — in some cases, more than 2 billion nanoplastics and 4 million microplastics for every square centimeter of container. What’s more, they also found that refrigeration and room-temperature storage for over six months can also release millions to billions of microplastics and nanoplastics into foods stored in plastic containers. Lastly, they further found that 75% of cultured embryonic kidney cells died after two days of being introduced to microplastic and nanoplastic particles.


“This study investigated the release of microplastics and nanoplastics from plastic containers and reusable food pouches under different usage scenarios, using DI water and 3% acetic acid as food simulants for aqueous foods and acidic foods. The results indicated that microwave heating caused the highest release of microplastics and nanoplastics into food compared to other usage scenarios, such as refrigeration or room-temperature storage. It was found that some containers could release as many as 4.22 million microplastic and 2.11 billion nanoplastic particles from only one square centimeter of plastic area within 3 min of microwave heating. Refrigeration and room-temperature storage for over six months can also release millions to billions of microplastics and nanoplastics. Additionally, the polyethylene-based food pouch released more particles than polypropylene-based plastic containers. Exposure modeling results suggested that the highest estimated daily intake was 20.3 ng/kg·day for infants drinking microwaved water and 22.1 ng/kg·day for toddlers consuming microwaved dairy products from polypropylene containers. Furthermore, an in vitro study conducted to assess the cell viability showed that the extracted microplastics and nanoplastics released from the plastic container can cause the death of 76.70 and 77.18% of human embryonic kidney cells (HEK293T) at 1000 μg/mL concentration after exposure of 48 and 72 h, respectively.”

Abstract: “Oil and gas production is one of the largest emitters of methane, a potent greenhouse gas and a significant contributor of air pollution emissions. While research on methane emissions from oil and gas production has grown rapidly, there is comparatively limited information on the distribution of impacts of this sector on air quality and associated health impacts. Understanding the contribution of air quality and health impacts of oil and gas can be useful for designing mitigation strategies. In this study, researchers assess air quality and human health impacts associated with ozone, fine particulate matter, and nitrogen dioxide from the oil and gas sector in the US in 2016, and compare this impact with that of the associated methane emissions.

The study finds air pollution in 2016 from the oil and gas sector in the US resulted in 410,000 asthma exacerbations, 2,200 new cases of childhood asthma and 7,500 excess deaths, with $77 billion in total health impacts. NO2 was the highest contributor to health impacts (37%) followed by ozone (35%), and then PM2.5 (28%). When monetized, these air quality health impacts of oil and gas production exceeded estimated climate impact costs from methane leakage by a factor of 3. These impacts add to the total life cycle impacts of oil and gas, and represent potential additional health benefits of strategies that reduce consumption of oil and gas. Policies to reduce oil and gas production emissions will lead to additional and significant health benefits from co-pollutant reductions that are not currently quantified or monetized.”

Abstract: “Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are exogenous substances able to mimic or to interfere with the endocrine system, thus altering key biological processes such as organ development, reproduction, immunity, metabolism and behavior. High concentrations of EDCs are found in several everyday products including plastic bottles and food containers and they could be easily absorbed by dietary intake. Scientists find that EDCs could cause and/or contribute to the onset of severe gestational conditions as Preeclampsia (PE), Fetal Growth Restriction (FGR) and gestational diabetes in pregnancy, as well as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular complications in reproductive age. Scientists recommend actions aimed at reducing or eliminating EDC exposure during the perinatal period are mandatory to guarantee pregnancy success and preserve fetal and adult health.”

Abstract: “To test the hypothesis that migration from the thermal labels on plastic film packaging is a major source of exposure to bisphenols and alternative color developers in food, scientists analyzed 140 packaging materials from packaged fresh food purchased in North America. No bisphenol A (BPA) was detected in either the packaging samples or thermal labels. However, significant amounts of bisphenol S (BPS) and alternative color developers (up to 214 μg/cm2) were present in thermal labels; their relative occurrence varied among stores. In a controlled experiment, researchers wrapped fish in film with a thermal label for 5 days at 4 °C. The fish in contact with the label contained BPS (≤1140 ng/g wet weight [ww]), 4-hydroxyphenyl 4-isoprooxyphenylsulfone (D-8) (≤230 ng/g ww), bis(2-chloroethyl)ether-4,4’-dihydroxydiphenyl sulfone monomer (D-90) (≤3.41 ng/g ww), and/or Pergafast-201 (≤1.87 ng/g ww). The corresponding film samples were then tested using migration cells for 10 days; significantly higher BPS migration was observed systematically from the films with thermal labels compared to plain films. This study provides evidence, for the first time, that BPS and alternative thermal label color developers migrate from packaging materials into food. Further, BPS migration significantly exceeded the European Union Specific Migration Limit (50 ng/g ww), suggesting that further risk assessment studies are warranted.”