Though still poorly understood, it is believed that a significant portion of the U.S. population suffers from chemical sensitivity, an allergic-type reaction occurring in response to a number of different industrial pollutants such as solvents, petrol, diesel and herbicides.
Written by Doris Rapp, Our Toxic World: A Wake Up Call, helps readers understand the impact frequent chemical exposure has on our everyday health. As the book explains, not everyone is affected in the same way, and some are completely clueless as to what is causing their annoying symptoms i.e. wheezing, headaches, skin rashes, sleeping problems, joint pain and more.
The following snippet from Rapp’s book explains what it means to have chemical sensitivity.
Industry data from the EPA indicates that 1.2 billion pounds of chemicals that potentially can be harmful to humans were released into the air and water nationwide in 1998. There are over 80,000 chemicals presently used in the United States. Less than 10% of these chemicals have even been partially evaluated for safety.
No one knows if the chemicals we’re exposed to every day are safe
Approximately 7,500 chemicals have only been studied in relation to healthy young males. They have not been properly studied for their effects on the human immune, nervous, endocrine and reproductive systems.
The facts are that chemicals can be a problem for anyone, at any age, and their safety has never been checked in the unborn, young children, females, pregnant women or older individuals who are the most apt to have adverse effects.
Even more at risk is anyone who has a depressed immune system, such as a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy. Almost any area of the body can be vulnerable and can be adversely affected from chemicals or other harmful environmental exposures.
Sensitivities to chemicals can begin at any time, so for those who think of themselves as not vulnerable, know it can happen to you.
About 50 different types of chemicals, such as herbicides, insecticides, termiticides or fungicides are collectively called pesticides. Of the 64 active pesticides used in schools, statistics show: 16 are probable causes of cancer; 24 are related to birth defects; 44 appear to cause reproduction problems; 49 can affect the central nervous system; 54 can damage the kidneys and 59 may cause eye and skin problems. Parents must ask why these chemicals continue to be used in schools or homes when safe alternatives are available.
Chemical sensitivities can strike anyone, at any time
In many instances, allergic individuals also have sensitivities to multiple chemicals. This type of illness has become so prevalent that it can no longer be denied. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for symptoms from allergenic substances, such as foods, dust and molds to begin very early in a child’s life. It is also possible for symptoms from chemicals to occur at anytime, including while in the uterus and during infancy.
These types of exposures can cause much more than itchy skin (eczema or hives), hay fever and asthma. By not recognizing or diagnosing the chemical sensitivity part of an illness, it can remain untreated for many years.
What exactly is a chemical sensitivity?
A chemical sensitivity, unfortunately, is rarely due to a single chemical. It is more apt to be characterized by a wide variety of bodily complaints related to many diverse odors. It typically occurs shortly after exposures to either an extremely minute or a large amount of one or more unrelated chemicals for either very brief or prolonged periods of time. Such exposures can cause illness from toxic levels of chemicals, but sensitivity reactions tend to commonly occur from extremely minute amounts of chemicals not typically considered to be toxic.
Chemically sensitive patients often have some combined malfunction of their immune, nervous, endocrine and/or reproductive systems. Because fewer than 2% of practicing physicians or health providers has formal training in the recognition, diagnosis and treatment of sensitivities to multiple chemicals, many patients are unaware of the correct diagnosis or true cause of their medical complaints.