illness can occur when you are exposed to toxins or substances in the
environment that make you sick. These health hazards may be found where you
live, work, or play.
Maybe you have headaches that only occur on
weekends. Or maybe you began to feel sick and got a rash after moving into a
newly built home. These symptoms can be caused by exposure to
toxic chemicals. For example:
Relief for allergies at school and day care is an urgent problem for many
parents and kids.
Consider the statistics: As many as 40% of children in the U.S. suffer from
seasonal allergies, and one in every 17 children under the age of 3 has a food
How can you work with teachers, coaches, the school nurse -- and your family
-- to keep allergies at school under control? How can you help your child avoid
missing important class days and be comfortable and productive while in
Those weekend headaches may be caused by a
broken furnace leaking carbon monoxide.
Materials in new buildings may cause nausea and rashes. And the
paper that makes up the outside layers of drywall promotes mold growth.
Exposure to these molds may cause symptoms and could lead to
What causes environmental illnesses?
Exposure to some types of chemicals can cause an environmental illness. The more of the chemical you are exposed to, the more likely you are to get ill. Examples include:
Symptoms of an
environmental illness may be like those you can get with
other conditions, such as:
But your symptoms will depend on the cause of the illness
If you think that exposure to toxic chemicals or other health hazards could be making you
sick, talk to your doctor.
How are environmental illnesses diagnosed?
An environmental illness can be hard to diagnose. You and your doctor may not
know what is causing your symptoms. Or you may mistake your symptoms for
another problem. Exposure to toxic chemicals can cause a wide range of common
medical problems or make them worse.
An exposure history, which is a set of questions
about your home, workplace, habits, jobs, lifestyle, and hobbies, can help
you find out what is making you sick. It may point to chemicals or other hazards
that you've been exposed to recently or in the past.
journal of your symptoms, and discuss it with your doctor. It may help you find
patterns in your symptoms. This can help you and your doctor find out what is
causing your illness.
How are they treated?
Early treatment includes
stopping or reducing your exposure to what is making you sick. These things
Improve your air quality by getting rid of the source of pollution. Don't allow smoking in your
house. If smokers live in or visit your home, ask them to smoke
Increase the amount of fresh air coming into your home. Adjust gas stoves, or replace them with electric ones.
Check to make sure that exhaust fans work. Installing carbon monoxide alarms in
your home can also protect you and your family.
Stop the health effects of mold exposure. Keep a dry
environment indoors to reduce exposure to mold. Mold should be removed from
buildings by trained professionals.
Further treatment will depend on your symptoms and what is
causing your illness.