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Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes Maff Hot

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Written by Maff     July 26, 2007    
 
7.8
3695   0   0   0   0

by Nicholas Ashford and Claudia Miller

 

Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes explains how day-to-day variations in chemical exposure may cause unusual and seemingly unpredictable symptoms, including many that have been termed psychosomatic in the past. It describes how everyday, low-level chemical exposures may cause fatigue, memory impairment, headaches, mood changes, breathing difficulties, digestive problems, and a host of chronic unexplained illnesses including chronic fatigue syndrome, Gulf War syndrome, and sick building syndrome. The authors are the first writers to clearly describe and document the process of adaptation, a concept that provides a rational and scientific basis for understanding these symptoms. In the Second Edition of this professionally acclaimed work, the authors offer evidence for an emerging new theory of diseasetoxicant-induced loss of tolerancewhich may have far-reaching implications for medicine, public health, and environmental policy. Based on a report commissioned by the New Jersey Department of Health that won the World Health Organizations Macedo Award, Chemical Exposures is the most comprehensive book ever written on sensitivity to low level chemical exposure and the many health effects associated with it. This work clarifies the nature of chemical sensitivity, shows how it differs from traditional allergies and toxicity, and suggests how federal and state governments can help those who are affected. The book identifies four major groups of people with hypersensitivity to low levels of chemicals: occupants of tight buildings, industrial workers who handle chemicals, residents of communities exposed to toxic chemicals, and individuals with random and unique exposures to various chemicals. The fact that similar symptoms are being reported by members of these demographically diverse groups not only points to a serious problem, it may also contribute to a better understanding of chemical sensitivity.

 

Included are a number of features that will be invaluable to health professionals - Clear, concise explanations of technical material, the most extensive bibliography to date on the subject, tables contrasting different medical approaches, descriptions of recent research and proposed mechanisms, an annotated bibliographical appendix highlighting illnesses that have been linked to environmental exposures, and policy recommendations for federal and state governments.

 

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Editor reviews

This book is considered one of the most authoritative on multiple chemical sensitivities and associated syndromes. Originally published in the early 1990's it is now in its second edition.

The authors are both highly qualified, Nicholas Ashford holds both a PhD in chemistry and a law degree. He is Professor of Technology and Policy at MIT where he teaches courses in Evironmental and Occupational Health Law. Claudia Miller is a medical doctor and is Assistant Professor in Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Both have held important positions on national and international advisory commitees.

With the authors' impressive academic backgrounds you would expect this book to be a very well researched and in depth investigation of the subject, and that is exactly what it is. Some sections may prove a little technical and hard to understand for some readers, particularly when not feeling their best, but the book covers so many important issues relating to multiple chemical sensitivity that there will certainly be something here that every patient will find useful.

The first section of the book deals with the groups mostly likely to be affected by MCS due to chemical exposures, an overview of the chemical industry and its history, and the magnitude of the problem. The authors then provide an introduction to key concepts and terminology that they use throughout the book. This is an essential inclusion in a book dealing with such complex subject matter. The first section concludes with a comprehensive description of multiple chemical sensitivity, including the various substances that may trigger it (air pollutants, foods and additives, water and contaminants, drugs and consumer products), the symptoms that are experienced, and the implications for health in general.

The second section of the book deals with the mechanisms, diagnosis, and treatment of MCS. The major proposed mechanisms for explaining MCS are covered in detail with extensive scientific and medical refernces. These mechanisms are grouped under limbic hypersensitivity, immunological, biochemical, and vascular. The book does also cover possible psychogenic mechanisms. The various methods of diagnosis and leading treatment approaches are covered in as much detail as previous subjects and this section concludes with a look at the areas of agreement and disagreement on MCS between allergists and clinical ecologists. This provides a balanced feel to the book and may be useful to readers when dealing with various health professionals.

The third part of the book looks at how society and the individual need to respond to the problem of chemical sensitivity. The authors recommend targets for future research before providing patients with detailed advice on coping with MCS that includes how to get appropriate healthcare, housing and employment issues, medical insurance claims and compensation, and access to social and legal services. This information will be of great help to new sufferers who are struggling to find help and feel their lives are spiraling out of control. The final part of this section discusses the role of medical practitioners in these issues.

The final, and very extensive, section of this tome is devoted to updates on all issues since the original publication. This section includes information on how government recognition (in numerous countries) of MCS has increased and the resulting improvements in help offered to those affected. It also includes a vast collection of new research findings relating to multiple chemical sensitivity that have appeared in the decade since the first edition.

As I'm sure you can now appreciate, this book is certainly not light reading and is a very demanding read. If you or someone you know suffer from chemical sensitivities however I would recommended it wholeheartedly as it goes into all the issues in great detail and provides valuable advice and understanding in all areas. It provides the reader with an understanding of the biological basis for their symptoms as well as providing practical advice for living with the condition and getting help.

For me, this book really helped me to understand the likely mechanisms that had resulted in me becoming sensitive to such minute amounts of everyday chemicals.

A must have text for anyone suffering from multiple chemical sensitivity.

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Maff Reviewed by Maff July 26, 2007
Last updated: July 30, 2009
#1 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (107)

Authoritative investigation of chemical sensitvity

This book is considered one of the most authoritative on multiple chemical sensitivities and associated syndromes. Originally published in the early 1990's it is now in its second edition.

The authors are both highly qualified, Nicholas Ashford holds both a PhD in chemistry and a law degree. He is Professor of Technology and Policy at MIT where he teaches courses in Evironmental and Occupational Health Law. Claudia Miller is a medical doctor and is Assistant Professor in Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Both have held important positions on national and international advisory commitees.

With the authors' impressive academic backgrounds you would expect this book to be a very well researched and in depth investigation of the subject, and that is exactly what it is. Some sections may prove a little technical and hard to understand for some readers, particularly when not feeling their best, but the book covers so many important issues relating to multiple chemical sensitivity that there will certainly be something here that every patient will find useful.

The first section of the book deals with the groups mostly likely to be affected by MCS due to chemical exposures, an overview of the chemical industry and its history, and the magnitude of the problem. The authors then provide an introduction to key concepts and terminology that they use throughout the book. This is an essential inclusion in a book dealing with such complex subject matter. The first section concludes with a comprehensive description of multiple chemical sensitivity, including the various substances that may trigger it (air pollutants, foods and additives, water and contaminants, drugs and consumer products), the symptoms that are experienced, and the implications for health in general.

The second section of the book deals with the mechanisms, diagnosis, and treatment of MCS. The major proposed mechanisms for explaining MCS are covered in detail with extensive scientific and medical refernces. These mechanisms are grouped under limbic hypersensitivity, immunological, biochemical, and vascular. The book does also cover possible psychogenic mechanisms. The various methods of diagnosis and leading treatment approaches are covered in as much detail as previous subjects and this section concludes with a look at the areas of agreement and disagreement on MCS between allergists and clinical ecologists. This provides a balanced feel to the book and may be useful to readers when dealing with various health professionals.

The third part of the book looks at how society and the individual need to respond to the problem of chemical sensitivity. The authors recommend targets for future research before providing patients with detailed advice on coping with MCS that includes how to get appropriate healthcare, housing and employment issues, medical insurance claims and compensation, and access to social and legal services. This information will be of great help to new sufferers who are struggling to find help and feel their lives are spiraling out of control. The final part of this section discusses the role of medical practitioners in these issues.

The final, and very extensive, section of this tome is devoted to updates on all issues since the original publication. This section includes information on how government recognition (in numerous countries) of MCS has increased and the resulting improvements in help offered to those affected. It also includes a vast collection of new research findings relating to multiple chemical sensitivity that have appeared in the decade since the first edition.

As I'm sure you can now appreciate, this book is certainly not light reading and is a very demanding read. If you or someone you know suffer from chemical sensitivities however I would recommended it wholeheartedly as it goes into all the issues in great detail and provides valuable advice and understanding in all areas. It provides the reader with an understanding of the biological basis for their symptoms as well as providing practical advice for living with the condition and getting help.

For me, this book really helped me to understand the likely mechanisms that had resulted in me becoming sensitive to such minute amounts of everyday chemicals.

A must have text for anyone suffering from multiple chemical sensitivity.

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