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Chemicals in our Environment and Their Effects on Our Immune System

June 2, 2008

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ranked indoor air pollution among the top five environmental health risks, reporting that indoor pollution levels can be two to five times, and occasionally more than a hundred times, higher than outdoor levels. Although local, state, and federal government agencies have established general guidelines to protect human health and safety, most were established for adult males working in industry, not for the average adults, children, or pregnant women.

Each day, most of us routinely come in contact with more than 500 chemicals. Only a relative handful of chemicals have been investigated in relation to human health – just 2 to 10% have been studied for their effect on the nervous system, even though the human body has no natural way to eliminate many of them. Nothing is known about the combined effects of the many chemicals to which we are exposed every day.

Furthermore, it is not always how much of a substance an individual is exposed to, but how sensitive that particular individual is to the substance that can eventually lead to illness. The amount of a chemical that causes a reaction in chemically sensitive people usually is considerably less than the amount recognized as unsafe. These people can perceive chemical smells more quickly and become genuinely ill from minute amounts of chemicals. Those who are genetically prone to allergies are more susceptible to chemical illness, known as Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. They start out with an exposure and sensitivity to one chemical, which can later spread to other such chemicals, and cause them to become quite ill in a world surrounded by chemical odors.

At first, these sensitive people might notice that their sense of smell becomes markedly increased. They may even crave certain odors. Then they become unable to smell at all, and there is no place they can run to escape the constant barrage of chemical toxins that cause a very real illness in a world that does not recognize Multiple Chemical Sensitivity as anything but a psychological disorder.They experience headaches, asthma, nausea, brain fog, memory loss, body aches, and various neurological problems. Some children with ADHD-type behaviors are also thought to have chemical sensitivities, among other allergies.

Is there hope for these people other than to avoid future exposure? Can they ever recover? The answer is yes. As long as they are open to alternative methods of treatment. Conventional medicine has yet to catch up with what has been offered for these people in alternative medicine. But does it work? The answer again is yes. From acupuncture to NAET, homeopathy to herbal medicine, there ARE options that are safe, effective, and long-lasting. If you have suffered as we have from a sensitivity to chemicals, we hope that you’ll share what you’ve learned with us in our Alternative Treatment forum. Please help us to help others.

Reference: Rapp, Doris J., MD (1996). Is This Your Child’s World? New York: Bantam Books

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