Lourdes Salvador's Column
...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.
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Scientists Uncover New Pandemic
by Lourdes Salvador
There is an escalating pandemic of acquired allergy, food intolerance, and chemical sensitivity in previously healthy people. Research shows that this, as well as many contemporary illnesses, is the direct result of our toxic environment.
Stephen J. Genius, MD, FRCSC, DABOG, DABEM, FAAEM, Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Alberta, Canada, says, "The prevalence of allergic-related diseases, food intolerance, and chemical sensitivities in both the pediatric and adult population has increased dramatically over the last two decades, with escalating rates of associated morbidity."
Nearly everyone either has or knows someone who suffers with an allergy or intolerance. Genius refers to the triad of illnesses as sensitivity-related illness (SRI).
SRI is the direct result of a toxicant induced loss of tolerance (TILT), a response to a significant initiating toxic exposure, according to Genius.
Once an initiation exosure occurs, future exposure to assorted toxic chemical substances brings on diverse clinical and immune responses as evidenced by clinical symptoms, and varied lymphocyte, antibody, or cytokine responses in some cases. Toxic response may involve various organ systems and a wide-range of physical and neuropsychological manifestations.
The U.S. Environmental Protection agency defines multiple chemical sensitivity, an SRI, as "a diagnostic label for people who suffer multi-system illnesses as a result of contact with, or proximity to, a variety of airborne agents and other substances."
Despite a wide body of research on the toxicological basis of these contemporary illnesses, most doctors are stumped by them. "As has usually been the case throughout medical history whenever new evidence regarding disease mechanisms emerges, resistance to the translation of knowledge abounds," says Genius.
"The resolution of SRI generally occurs on a gradual basis following the elimination of bioaccumulated toxicity and avoidance of further initiating adverse environmental exposures," says Genius. "Avoidance of triggers will preclude symptoms, and desensitization immunotherapy or immune suppression may ameliorate symptomatology in some cases.
As with any societal pandemic, the cause must be eliminated. That means reducing and eliminating sources of toxic exposure that lead to contemporary illnesses.
Traditionally, chemical regulations have been very weak. European nations have moved forward in 2007 with new chemical regulations called R.E.A.C.H., which deals with the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of CHemical substances. However, the United States has been slow to follow.
Largely unsubstantiated fears of job loss, struggling industry, and reduced profits stand largely behind the resistance in the USA. It´s only a matter of time before this pandemic reaches so many people that widespread disability interferes with a work force of sufficient magnitude to maintain these toxic ways.
While we often think of smoke stacks as a primary source of toxic chemicals, some of the worst offenders and producers of poor air quality are the products we use in our own homes. Studies show indoor air is as much as two to six times more polluted than outdoor air.
The culprits which pollute indoor air include cleaning products, hand ´sanitizer´, air ´fresheners´, fumes from scented laundry products, pesticides, and formaldehyde release from furniture and carpet. Exposure to cleaning and ´freshening´ products has been linked with asthma and other respiratory disorders.
There are safer methods, safer ingredients, and safer ways. As a society, we survived untold years without hazardous chemicals, hand sanitizers, or air fresheners. It has only been in the last 20 – 30 years with the increased use of chemicals, fragrances, and vaccines that SRIs have become predominant.
Some ways to improve ventilation and reduce exposure include:
- Open windows.
- Place HVAC fan in the ´on´ position (regardless of temperature setting).
- Install a carbon filter or whole house filter on the HVAC system.
- Use a portable air filter, especially when cleaning.
- Avoid the use of air fresheners and scenting devices.
- Choose unscented, natural, and organic cleaning products whenever possible.
- Consider baking soda for scouring and laundry, vinegar for all purpose cleaning and disinfecting, and peroxide for bleaching and added disinfecting.
- Avoid pesticides.
Genius SJ. Sensitivity-related illness: the escalating pandemic of allergy, food intolerance and chemical sensitivity. Sci Total Environ. 2010 Nov 15;408(24):6047-61.
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
Copyrighted 2011 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America