Lourdes Salvador's Column
...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.
Lourdes Salvador volunteers as a writer and social advocate for the recognition of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). She was a passionate advocate for the homeless and worked with her local governor to provide services to the homeless through a new approach she created to end homelessness. That passion soon turned to advocacy and activism for people with MCS and the medical professionals who serve them. She co-founded MCS Awareness in 2005 and went on to found MCS America in 2006. She serves as a partner for Environmental Education Week, a partner for the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE), and a supporter for the American Cancer Society: Campaign for Smokefree Air.
Science - American Children in Danger
by Lourdes Salvador
The insensate denial of the ability of low-level chemical exposure to injure the brain and nervous system of infants, children, and adults is enduring.
Occasionally, scientific literature acknowledges information regarding the effects of low-level exposures to common indoor environmental contaminants. More frequently, this data is ignored or denied publication by medical journals, which are largely owned by chemical and pharmaceutical companies with vested industrial interest in the selling and use of the very products which negatively impact human health.
A rather large percentage of the population reports negative effects from exposures to pesticide, fragrance, flame retardants, plastics, formaldehyde, and other pollutants customarily found and used in the home, school, and work place.
Samarawickrema and colleagues, researchers it the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Kelaniya, Ragama, Sri Lanka, recognized that little scientific information exists on the health effects of exposure to organophosphate pesticides.
Samarawickrema says, "The possible deleterious effects of low-grade, chronic environmental and occupational exposure to organophosphorus compounds (OPCs) are not well documented."
Samarawickrema was particularly interested in the effects of OPCs on pregnant mothers and their fetus. Infants and children are well known to be more susceptible to environmental exposures during development. This is compounded by their small body size which increased the chances of a smaller dose having a larger effect.
A single drop of food color in a glass of water, for example, will generate a much darker fluid than a single drop of food color in a pitcher of water. Similarly, the same exposure will be much more concentrated in a smaller individual than a larger individual.
Samarawickrema´s focus was primarily on oxidative stress and oxidative tissue damage as a result of maternal OPC exposure
Cord blood samples obtained during the spray season showed significant inhibition of BChE activity, increased oxidative stress, and DNA fragmentation. Samples taken during non-spray seasons did not show these changes.
Samarawickrema concluded that, "Inhibition of cord blood BChE (butyrylcholinesterase) activity indicates fetal exposure to organophosphorus compounds during times when there is a high probability of environmental drift."
Pesticides are capable of drifting a great distance and affecting individuals out of the immediate spraying area. This aerial drift has been documented to cause illness in school children playing in school yards within a few miles proximity to farm lands.
Individuals may not immediately know what caused illness, and some may never know. Simply not spraying in one´s own home is not sufficient protection from exposure. These clearly toxic substances must be strongly regulated to avoid their use in any area which may impact nearby human inhabitants.
These exposures, according to Samarawickrema, cause oxidative stress and high DNA fragmentation in the fetus. Oxidative stress is causes an imbalance between reactive oxygen and the ability to detoxify the body and easily repair any resulting oxidative damage.
Oxidative stress is involved in many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity, Gulf War illness, and aging.
Pathmeswaran A, Wickremasinghe R, Peiris-John R, Karunaratna M, Buckley N, Dawson A, de Silva J. Fetal effects of environmental exposure of pregnant women to organophosphorus compounds in a rural farming community in Sri Lanka. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2008 Jul;46(6):489-95.
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
Copyrighted 2008 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America