On rainy days, you develop a headache. You have had these headaches for many years. Initially, you had them occasionally and they were mild, but you’ve noticed that over time they have become more frequent and are getting worse.
You have not had headaches at home or on vacation, but do get them at work. Your office is on the top floor of a building. Ten years ago, a large pipe broke in the ceiling over your office and caused a major flood.
When you go to the doctor, s/he asks you how you feel about your job and decides your headaches are due to your unhappiness with work. She suggests that these headaches are psychological in nature and if you change you mood, the headaches will likely disappear.
Your child acts strangely and gets into fights when she is bowling with her league on Tuesdays. Last week she had a temper tantrum and knocked another girl down, without any apparent provocation. Normally, she behaves reasonably well and gets along fine with other children at home and school. Perhaps your child needs therapy or medication to control his/her behavior?
While the bowling area has hardwood floors, the adjoining restaurant recently installed wall to wall carpeting. This synthetic carpet has a latex backing that off gasses the chemicals styrene and 4-phenylcyclohexane (4-PC). Additionally, the adhesives that are used to install this flooring contains benzene and toluene. These VOC’s (volatile organic chemicals) have been associated with both respiratory and neurologic disorders.
Many biological irritants including mold, mold spores, mycotoxins, dust mites and dust mite waste all thrive in humid environments, especially in buildings that have been damaged by water. Additionally, environmental health problems are caused by exposure to chemical irritants like pesticides, cleaning products, print toner, building materials and more. Other symptoms of environmental illness include poor concentration, irritability, indigestion, nausea and depression.
Environmental illness is prevalent and yet most of us are completely unaware that we may be suffering from it. Environmental illness has a wide range of symptoms and causes. Often, the problem and it’s cause are not understood. Children with environmental illness are often treated for ADHD or behavioral problems. Adults with environmental illness are often treated for depression. In the US we produce over 80,000 chemicals, most of which have not undergone testing by the FDA.
How can you know if the indoor air quality at your office or at the bowling ally are the cause of health problems?
You must become a detective!
Here is what you need to do:
- Do the symptoms get worse and get better with a change of environment? If so, environmental illness is likely to be a problem.
- Keep a careful record of when the symptoms (behavioral or health) deteriorate and subsequently, when the symptoms improve.
- Next, try to determine what product or biological irritant is triggering the health issues.
- Finally, you must see that the problem is addressed through remediation. At The Air Cleaner Store, we sell HEPA air cleaners which are an important part of the solution. If the problem can’t be fixed, consider avoiding the toxic environment all together.
This article is the first in a series on environmental illness. In the coming months we will look further at:
- Learning Problems And Environmental Illness
- Reproductive Health And Environmental Illness
- The Stigma Of Environmental Illness