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  • What are environmental illnesses?
    Added by My Identity Doctor

    Environmental illness is not well understood, but certainly exists–though used to be far more contested than it is now. There are several types of documented environmental illnesses, although more research is needed into many of these types of illness thought to be triggered by environmental factors or chemicals.


    Which chemicals are thought to cause environmental illness?

    Chemicals such as those in cigarettes, asbestos, wood burning, poor quality or unsafe drinking water, workplace chemicals, and lead may contribute to environmental illnesses (EI) per Alberta Health Services [1]. Metals may also be linked to EI [1, 2]. We have become well aware of the problems of mercury in thermometers and the water supply on human health—in addition, cadmium and beryllium are known to cause health problems effecting blood, kidneys, liver and lungs—other metals that promote health in small doses like zinc and iron, can become toxic at higher levels. [2]

    Other chemical causes of environmental illnesses per the Hoffman Program at Harvard Public Health include highly fluorinated chemicals used in cookware, clothing and carpeting to make them oil and water resistant; anti-microbial products such as those in soap, deodorant and toothpaste; and flame retardant chemicals. Bisphenols and phthalates are chemicals found in personal care products, plastics, pesticides, and more, potentially causing disruption to the body’s endocrine, metabolic, neurologic, and immune systems. [2] “Organic solvents” that release vapours, including paint, coatings like stain and varnish, can be inhaled and are linked to neurotoxicity, reproductive toxicity, and cancer. [2]

    The types of environmental illnesses

    Asthma is among the most well-known environmental illnesses, but it is not the only one. Other illnesses caused by environmental factors include:

    • Black lung disease from coal mining [3]
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease from inhaling occupational or environmental smoke and fumes—common in firefighters  [3]
    • Asbestosis and lung cancer from asbestos.  [3]
    • Silicosis is a lung disease caused by inhaling silica dust in clay; potters are especially prone. [3]
    • Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) may have links to environmental cause. [4] “Toxic overload”, pesticides, radiation, effect of environment on gene changes may be causes of ME/CFS still under investigation. [4] Mycotoxins (mold-induced illness), is another potential environmental cause of ME/CFS—one study indicates 93% of people with ME/CFS have at least one mycotoxin present in urine samples. [5]
    • Gulf War Syndrome – US veterans have reported disabling symptoms after serving in the Gulf War. Symptoms of Gulf War syndrome include chronic fatigue, body aches in muscles and joints, rashes on the skin, and memory loss. As well for women, miscarriages have been linked to GWS, as well as babies born with congenital abnormalities—birth defects. [3]
    • Chemical poisonings, often linked to lead, and in some cases, mercury [3]
    • Multiple chemical sensitivity(MCS): Once a contested diagnosis like ME/CFS and fibromyalgia, MCS is gaining wider recognition. However, health experts have not reached a consensus on whether MCS is truly an illness. [6] Following even small exposures to chemical triggers (including smoke, car exhaust, carpet offgassing, perfume, insecticide, and more), people with MCS may experience less-specific symptoms like headache, fatigue, confusion, difficulty concentrating, memory and mood problems and dizziness [6]. General gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, diarrhea, gas, and bloating may be experienced. [6] Symptoms mimicking allergy including congestion, itching, sneezing, sore throat may follow exposures, as may breathing problems similar to asthma. [6] Symptoms similar to cardiac problems including chest pain and heart rhythm changes may also present. [6] The wide-ranging symptoms and variability between individuals in severity and presentation makes MCS difficult to diagnose and research.

    There are other conditions that may be linked to environmental exposures.

    As well “Sick Building Syndrome” may cause people to feel unwell or have generalized symptoms of environmental illness—symptoms are not common among all sufferers. Sick Building Syndrome is thought to be caused by poor ventilation and temperature control, unregulated humidity, outdoor pollution becoming trapped in the building, and chemical work byproducts such as cleaning supplies, occupational chemicals such as glues, cleaning supplies and off-gassing of inks, printer/copier chemicals, and more. People will have varying degrees of sensitivity.  [3]

    Before you go live in a bubble…

    It is clear that not all people are susceptible to the same types of environmental impacts on their health. In most conditions, the combination of genetics and environment seem to play a role. Many of these conditions may be treatable, or have treatments that can address some of the effects. Doctors may or may not be educated on some of these conditions and searching out a specialist and doing research may be necessary by the patient.

    Depending on your type of environmental illness, medical ID jewelry may help you in the event of a crisis or maintaining a safe environment. Our custom medical ID jewelry means you can engrave just what you need to stay safe.

    Published by My Identity Doctor on June 24, 2018


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