Environmental medicine is a relatively new field of study. Once regarded with skepticism by some, environmental medicine has recently gained more attention and prestige, thanks in part to the green movement.
As more people learn about environmental chemicals, they’re realizing that these chemicals can indeed cause environmental illness, also known as sick building syndrome. Indoor mold, for example, can cause all sorts of illnesses – from allergies and asthma to neurotoxic poisoning.
Cleveland.com reports that Dr. Lisa Lavine Nagy, who suffers from multiple chemical sensitivity, is working to spread the word about environmental illness. She says that some doctors are “still scared about the concept of environmental medicine.” Dr. Nagy developed her illness after hidden mold grew around a broken aquarium in her home.
Everyone is sensitive to chemicals, but some people experience severe reactions to certain substances in the environment. It’s often difficult to diagnose environmental illness.
Dr. Kathleen Fagan of Case Western Reserve University’s school of medicine explains, “We’re understanding more about the effects of the environment on genetics, and the fact that people’s genetics determine how they will react to environmental exposures. We still don’t know why someone has a very acute reaction to low-level exposure.”
Possible signs of environmental illness include headaches, increased sense of smell or sensitivity to certain fragrances, increased sensitivity to fluorescent light.
Tips for Avoiding Environmental Illness:
Air out your house periodically, especially during the winter. An air purifier will also remove allergens and pollutants from the air.
Avoid harsh chemical cleaners. Instead, use a chemical-free vapor steam cleaner, which only uses water to sanitize surfaces. As Dr. Michael Roizen of the Cleveland Clinic says, “You want to use cleaning fluids that are, in fact, safe enough to drink.”
Decrease your toxic chemical load by eating organic food and drinking purified water.
Ask your doctor if you have any specific allergies, and avoid those substances.
Monitor your home’s humidity, and keep it below 50% to prevent mold growth. You can lower indoor humidity with a dehumidifier.