Thursday, December 9, 2010

Environmental Medicine : Pollution around us

Environmental Medicine deals with environmental risk factors and human health. This is related to all of us since we are all exposed to air to breathe, water to drink, food and beverages. The risk factors can be of many different kinds like radioactivity, chemicals or ultra-violet radiation from the sun. Many of the risk factors could be avoided or reduced with the knowledge that they exist and what the risk situations are.

The emphasis is on dietary and lifestyle habits, chemicals, water, indoor and outdoor air quality at home, work and school. It considers each patient as a unique individual exposed to a unique set of circumstances and thus needing individualized therapy

Pollution around us

Type of Exposure
  • Biological : bacteria, viruses, molds, candida, parasites, foods, animal dander, dust and pollen from trees, grasses and weeds. 
  • Chemical : substances such as formaldehyde, phenol, solvents, petroleum products, pesticides, herbicides, PCBs, heavy metals, asbestos, chlorine, sulfur dioxide, alcohol, tobacco and medications. 
  • Physical : heat, cold, weather cycles, noise, positive and negative ions, electromagnetic radiation, X-rays, nuclear explosions, reactor accidents and radon gas. 
  • Psychosocial : prolonged psychological stress in personal relationships or at work, a death in the family, fire, bankruptcy or job loss.
Daily Exposure
Do you realize that our daily consumption and daily activity contain dangerous toxin that if accumulated in certain amount, can cause side effect to our health.

Chemicals are everywhere
  • bedroom - fabric softeners, flame reterdants,dry cleaning
  • bathroom - chlorine, cosmetics, shampoos, toothpaste, hair products, colognes
  • kitchen - pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, cookware, plastics, petroleum residue, trans fats, flavorings, sweeteners

Illness induced caused by chemicals
  • Plasticizers TMA - complex antigens
  • dry cleaning fluid - cardiovascular
  • solvents - panic disorders
  • hydrocarbons - glomerulonephritis
  • formaldehyde - fatigue, cancer
  • pesticides - brain fog ( loss concentration, poor memory, irritability, depression)
Adaptation (called tolerance, acclimatization or addiction) brings about what is called a "masking" phenomenon. This results in many patients and physicians missing the effect of a particular substance (be it food or toxin) on an individual’s health.

1. Lecture note week 3, Environmental Medicine and global health, by Prof dr Hari Kusnanto Josep

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