Air Quality Issues
This is the newest section of DogtorJ.com and was added In June of 2003 after the worst two months of medical problems I have ever seen in my 24 year career. There are many factors to consider in such an amazing period, one that I have been referring to as “medical Armageddon”. But, the most overlooked contributor has clearly been air quality.
Many of us live in the industrialized areas of the world where air quality issues are very real problems. However, many of us let this critical topic pass us by with little more than a nod of our head. We may have gotten away with this approach in the past but not any more. It is time for us all to wake up to where our relatively lazy attitude toward this health menace has led us.
The letter below will serve as the introduction to this vital topic. I will attempt to add more information as time allows. In the meantime, please try to muster some interest in the significant effect that air pollution is having on you and your pet. Once the reader sees some of the seasonal patterns of illnesses to which I refer, then you will begin to understand the nature of many of the symptoms from which we all suffer as well as the timing of catastrophic illnesses that plague us and our loved ones.
As the letter explains, there are distinct reasons for the two seasonal “gauntlets”…April/May and October/November…through which we must pass in order to remain healthy. Allergies, changes in daylight hours, and temperature variations all play a role, but air quality looms large as a determining factor in who passes through the gauntlet unscathed.
In this section:
Air Quality- Our Town Gets An “F” Rating – This is an Email that I sent to The Friends of DogtorJ and serves as an introduction into this vital topic. It contains links to EPA and other air quality sites that can be used to evaluate your area.
Air Pollution Score Card and “The Gauntlets” – (Link only; click here) This is an Email that I sent to The Friends of DogtorJ with a link to a Website that can help you all see the pollution issues in your area ( http://www.scorecard.org/ ). The letter also discusses the four seasonal medical gauntlets that we all go through, hopefully lending some insight into why certain times of year can be so devastating to our health. Yes, it sounds eerily familiar to the one I wrote a few years ago.
Air Quality- Our Town Gets An “F”- Rating- An Email
To: Friends of Dogtor J
Sent: Sunday, June 29, 2003 4:18 PM
Subject: Fw: Air quality- Our town gets an “F” rating.
I hope you are having a great weekend. If you are having a really good one, you might want to wait ’til tomorrow to read this Email. It’s a “Monday” type of thing, to be read when other things are going wrong. Haha. But seriously, this is something that I put together today after a friend of mine and I got into a discussion about health and air quality. I realized that I had not bored you with technical data in a very long time, so I decided to send it to all of you today. (smile) But seriously, this is very important stuff.
Have you been having a lot of headaches recently? How about itchy eyes, sinus congestion, dizziness, high blood pressure, or gastrointestinal symptoms? Have you written them all off to your allergies? Unfortunately, I know that some of you have also experienced tragic losses or known of catastrophic illnesses in your loved ones (and beloved pets) just as I have seen over the past 2 months.
If you are a client of mine, you have been faced with having to listen to me preach about the effects of air pollution over the past two years. I usually get fired up twice a year….now and again in September or so…when I start seeing the recurring patterns of illness in my four-legged patients. The most noticeable syndrome is that of what we call H.G.E. or hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, an acute onset of vomiting and diarrhea with blood. I have seen a record number of these cases (close to 50 now) in the past month and a half. This is a consistent pattern this time of year and again in late August through early November. It is an immune-related intestinal disorder according to the literature but occurs when the pollutants (such as ozone and the list below) are in high levels in our air. Thus, this letter.
For the past month and a half, I have seen and heard about more serious illness in a short period of time than I have ever experienced in my entire 24 year career. The H.G.E. is just the tip of the iceberg. I have handled more cancer cases, autoimmune disorders, organ failures, asthma, severe allergies, and gastrointestinal disorders than I can ever remember in such a season. ( I will throw in here that those on the proper diet appear to be MUCH less affected, however. More on this in a moment.) I am in contact with nurses and technicians at hospitals who have concurred with my sense of increased illness in the people around me. There has been an overabundance of strokes, heart attacks, seizures, and decompensated chronic illnesses in the past two months in humans as well as pets. Once again, this is a well-defined and recurrent Spring-Fall pattern during which our tendency is to say that “THIS one is the worst one yet” when we are in the throws of it at the time. However, I have to say that I do believe that this one is the worst one yet.
I have never had 50 cases of HGE in 1.5 months. I have never had 6 cases of malignant lymphoma in a month, with two of them as back-to-back appointments and three of them occurring in two days. I have never had two cases of bladder cancer in two days. I have never seen five cases of kidney failure in less than two weeks. I have dealt with an unusual number of seizures in pets (and people) over the past month. And I have never had two solid weeks of a headaches personally, even when I was still eating all of the wheat and dairy to which I am so allergic. My wife has had a headache for 6 weeks now beginning at the time that all of the HGE cases started pouring in. Mine started a bit later and I attribute the delay to my purified diet. BUT, that is not even a guarantee against air pollution. I went to Georgia for 5 days and felt fabulous, only to regain my headache within 12 hours of returning home. My sleep has also been disrupted. Something is amiss. Does any of this sound familiar?
So, I decided to put something together for those on my list. For some, this will be your introduction to the idea that the “F” rating that our city has received from the EPA actually means something to us. To others, it is just a reminder and may serve only to be a source of frustration like my rantings and ravings over the food issues. I am sorry if that is true. But, we all need to at least be exposed to the Truth. Whether we actually do something about it or not is another matter. You at least deserve to have a choice in the matter and that is my purpose in writing what I do, both about the food issues and this newest topic.
Air pollution plays a huge role in the deterioration of our health. I still think the food issues are even bigger, as poor nutritional health keeps us from dealing with the air toxins as much as we possibly can. The pollution is therefore many times the “straw that breaks the camels back”, as we see so clearly twice a year. We seem to have two gauntlets to get through…April/May and again October/November. Think for a moment (and I am sorry of it is painful) about the serious illnesses and loss of loved ones that have occurred during those times of year. It is not just my family that has been hit so hard during those times, I’m sure. I have heard many times in the exam room how parents were lost…even both parents of married couples…during the same time of year (May or November, for example) and they had not even made the connection. These things are not a coincidence, I’m afraid.
I have started asking myself more questions when a case comes into the hospital.
Not only do I ask “What is wrong?” and “What can I do to help?”, but I also ask “Why is it happening NOW? Why not last month or two months ago?”, especially when it obviously a chronic problem. The answer? The air quality plays a big role in the decompensation of chronic illnesses, such as in atherosclerosis, cancer, and neurological disorders (as in MS). Granted, there are many others factors such as length of the days/ time changes (big ones, I’m afraid), allergies, stress (less important than most think), and natural progression of the illness. But, when the reader gets into the changes that some of these air pollutants can cause, they will have to agree that the effects of pollution have been horribly underestimated.
By the way. I have added an addendum to my epilepsy paper called Addendum #3- The Role of the Blood Brain Barrier. It can be found here:
http://dogtorj.tripod.com./foodstuff/id2.html. It is pertinent here, as air pollution can damage this vital barrier and allow things into the brain that don’t normally get in, at least not in high quantity. Air pollution also has a distinct effect on atherosclerosis, resulting in high blood pressure and related complications. Two other things that damage this vital barrier are allergic reactions and our old friends the hydrogenated oils.
So, I am sorry to spoil your Sunday but this is important information. What we do with it is a another matter but the issue of air quality is something about which we all need to be knowledgeable. The letter below will get you started. If you do not live in my city, then you can use the EPA sites provided below to check out your own area. This may at least explain some of the symptoms that you or your loved ones have had that have been hard to put your fingers on. The dietary explanations for these still apply, but the seasonal manifestation of some problems are clearly governed by allergens and air pollution. The latter two work in concert, I’m afraid, to bring out the worst in us all.
Here are the EPA sites:
http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/nata/mapemis.html (individual pollutants by state) ,
http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/nata/maprisk.html (cancer risks of pollutants by state),
On this last one, just click on your state, then pick the Emissions map and pollutant you want to see on the next page. Picking “Total of these pollutants” under Pollutant Emitted is the most enlightening…or frightening.
Here is the newest site for checking air quality in your area:
Simply put in your zip code and then click on the links of interest. You can see which plants are the main polluters, where they are, and what the chemicals they are releasing are known or suspected to do to our health.
The good news is that the diet changes I have explained make us more resilient to these pollutants. Our goal, therefore, should always be to make ourselves as strong as possible (especially our immune systems) because short of moving, some of these things are out of our immediate control. But through education and advocacy, perhaps we can turn this pollution situation around and all live happier and healthier lives.
Read: The Answer- to “Why is the Plane of Our Nation’s Health in a Death Spiral?”
Follow-up Email to a Friend:
Sent: Sunday, June 29, 2003 2:24 PM
Subject: Thanks for the push
Thank you for setting me up to be Shang Hai’d again by a the revival of this pollution project.(smile) It is a very important part of the overall picture and did need some clarification and expansion. I now plan to write a large article for my Website about it under the heading of “More stuff you wish you didn’t know” or something like that.
After this morning, there will be no doubt in any reader’s mind that pollution is a serious health risk, especially in our area.
You get the preview (“Oh boy”).
Below is a list of the air toxics in our city that puts us as one of the most polluted cities in the country. The percentages represent the percentiles compared to the rest of the country, with the levels of each of these pollutants ranging from the top 75 to the 100% percentile in the country (with 100% being the worst or highest level of pollutant and 0% being the best or lowest level of pollutant). Is that clear?
The EPA only measures 34 air pollutants. We rank in the top 75-100% in 30 of them. There are 154 others that they don’t even measure.
Here’s the list:
Our City’s Worst Toxic Air Emissions (out of 34 possible- shown as highest overall percentile in the U.S.; Ones without number are at least 75%. The first percent is overall emissions per year. The second figure is the mean (average) ambient levels of these pollutants over the year and expressed as the percentile compared to rest of the country. Again, high is bad.)
Acetaldehyde (mean ambient-90%)
Acrolein (mean ambient-90%)
Arsenic (100%, mean ambient-90%)
Benzene (mean ambient-90%)
Beryllium (mean ambient-90%)
1,3 Butadiene (90%, mean ambient-90%)
Cadmium (90%, mean ambient-75%)
Carbon Tetrachloride (75%)
Chloroform (100%, mean ambient-100%)
Chromium (100%, mean ambient-100%)
1,3 dichloropropene (mean ambient-90%)
Ethylene Dibromide (90%, mean ambient-100%)
Ethylene dichloride (90%, mean ambient-90%)
Ethylene oxide (75%)
Formaldehyde (90%, mean ambient-90%)
Hydrazine (90%, mean ambient 90%)
Lead (90%, mean ambient 75%)
Manganese (90%, mean ambient 90%)
Mercury (90%, mean ambient 75%)
Methylene chloride (75%)
Nickel (100%, mean ambient 100%)
Perchloroethylene (mean ambient 90%)
Polycyclic Organic Matter (POMs)
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (7 PAH)
Propylene dichloride (90%, mean ambient 90%)
Quinoline (90%, mean ambient 100%)
1,1,2,2, Tetrachlorethane (90%, mean ambient 90%)
Vinylchloride (90%, mean ambient 90%)
So, 30 out of 34 are a big problem in our area.
100% Total – (4) Arsenic, chloroform, chromium, Nickel
100% Mean Ambient- (5) Chloroform, Chromium, Ethyene dibromide, Nickel, Quinoline
90% Total -(13) Butadiene, Cadmium, Ethylene dibromide, Ethylene dichloride, Formaldehyde, Hydrazine, Lead, Manganese, Mercury, Propylene dichloride, Quinoline, Tetrachlorethane, Vinylchloride
90% Mean Ambient- (15) All of the 13 above plus Dichloropropene and Perchloroethylene
There are 154 more air toxics that the EPA does not even measure.
Here are a couple of sites on which you will find what each of these pollutants does to our body. This is the “fun” part. Any of these symptoms sound familiar?
http://www.nsc.org/library/chemical/chemical.htm (Next best)
For example, click here to see:
Arsenic (http://www.state.nj.us/health/eoh/rtkweb/0152.pdf or http://www.nsc.org/library/chemical/arsenic.htm)
Cadmium ( http://www.state.nj.us/health/eoh/rtkweb/0305.pdf)
Chromium ( http://www.nsc.org/library/chemical/chromium.htm)
Mercury (http://www.nsc.org/library/chemical/Mercury.htm) from fish and GRAINS.
Many of these are listed as causes of headaches, depression, dizziness, and mental confusion. The biggies are benzene, tetrachlorethane, dichloropropene, butadiene, acetaldehyde, acrylonitrile, cadmium, carbon tetrachloride…. You know what? The list is too long. Suffice it to say that the majority of them can cause headaches.
Some are worse on the lungs, others are worse on the central nervous system. Some like arsenic really work on the gastrointestinal tract in a big way. We have some of the highest levels of arsenic in our air than anywhere in the country. Could this be the guy causing the epidemic levels of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis we are seeing right now.
The obvious question is whether the levels that we breathe in every day are enough to cause problems. Many are definitely cumulative, like the heavy metals. BUT, when we have such high levels of ALL of them, imagine what the summation of these air toxicants can possibly do. No wonder I have clients regularly complain that their eyes and nose start itching as soon as they get in our area and that these abate when they leave (like they do in me when I leave town.)
So, as with the food information, what do we do with this information? Who should or needs to know? If we have no intention to so anything about it, as in “fight city hall” or move, is it a moot point? I don’t think so. I think people SHOULD know. The Truth may “hurt” but it is never bad in the long run, is it?
Once again, ignorance is bliss…but potentially lethal.
Air Pollution Score Card and “The Gauntlets”