Healing Our World Commentary: We Are on Our Own – But There is Help

By Jackie Alan Giuliano, Ph.D.

We Are on Our Own – But There is Help

Illness is a great leveler. At its touch,
the artificial distinctions of society vanish away.
People in a hospital are just people.

-- M. Thorek, surgeon in the 1930s

Each day, thousands of toxic substances compromise our health and tens of thousands of people become ill or die every year from a whole host of environmental illnesses, many of which may never be diagnosed properly by a doctor.

While these people suffer, committees meet, studies are conducted, rules are debated, and drugs are prescribed. Industries continue to pollute, backed by a U.S. presidential administration committed to improving the life of the rich at the expense of the Earth and everyone else.


Hospital care (Photo courtesy Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital, Chicago)
There are few signs that these trends will end any time soon, so we must protect ourselves and help each other. Fortunately, a number of techniques exist that can help many sufferers of environmental illnesses - and the rest of us as well.

As anyone knows who has ever been sick, we don’t think very clearly during an illness. Imagine what it must be like for people who, every hour of every day, are feeling the assault of the toxic substances that surround us. Walking into a dry cleaner, where the air is thick with toxic products, could be fatal to these folks. Thousands of chemical substances in our environment are classified as neurotoxins, often affecting our brains and causing toxic mood disorders like depression and schizophrenia. If you know or suspect someone is suffering from these effects, please refer them to help.

Drugs and techniques of medical doctors, while effective for some, do not work for many others. Symptomatic relief does little for someone whose entire immune system, nervous system, and organs are reacting to insidious toxic substances.

There are a number of alternative lifestyle and health practices that could be of value to chronic sufferers of environmental illness. But they are also important for those of us who may not feel the effects so dramatically. Below are a few ideas.

I am not a medical doctor and none of the following suggestions should be construed as medical advice nor should you change your diet or treatment programs without first consulting a qualified health practitioner that you trust.

What we eat has a dramatic effect on how our bodies handle threats. It is vitally important that we eat as little meat and diary products as our bodies will tolerate - none would be best, but not everyone can do that. When those products are consumed, they should be organic, hormone free, and drug free. The drugs used in factory farmed animals DO show up in the meat. Why wait for the results of a research study that may never come?


Hoboken Farmer's Market, New Jersey (Photo courtesy New Jersey Council of Farmers and Communities)
Only organic fruits and vegetables should be consumed. You can save all the extra money that will cost you to buy organic by renting one or two fewer videos this month or not buying that CD you wanted. And if you eliminate or reduce the meat in your diet, the extra cost of organic produce won’t even be an issue.

While the occasional consumption of non-organic foods, for example, when eating out, will not harm most people, some folks are very sensitive to the pesticide residues found on ALL non organic produce. Remember, these poisons don’t wash off easily.

Regardless of what assurances your local water provider may give you, NEVER drink tap water. Remember that boiling does not help reduce non-bacterial pollutants. In fact, boiling can even concentrate the pollutants since some water evaporates. Let the agencies argue about how much arsenic and cadmium is safe to drink, but don’t wait for any proof to surface. Find a reputable bottled water company that provides actual spring water that is filtered with a number of processes. Unfortunately, this can be expensive.

But careful examination of your budget will often yield many ways to redirect your funds. If you spend $3 each work day on snacks and coffee, that $60 or more a month would buy almost 43 gallons of spring water delivered to your door. Depending on the size of your family, this could be twice as much as you need.

If you feel you are sensitive to atmospheric pollutants, get a high quality filter mask and wear it, regardless of what looks you may get. Even if you don’t suffer from environmental illness, you should have such a mask around the house for every family member and use it when you use chemicals like cleaning products or paints, work in the garage, or crawl under the house. Wear it when you ride your bicycle in the city or even in the country around farms.


"The Respro® City™ anti-pollution mask offers a high standard of protection from the inhalation of primary pollutants associated with vehicle exhaust emissions. (Photo courtesy Respro Urban Survival Equipment
Unless you have spent some serious money on a sealed vacuum cleaner that filters the air, it may be doing more harm than good. Most vacuums just stir up the dirt and push it, at high velocity, back into the air. Go to a used vacuum store or look at online auctions for deals on a high quality vacuum, like a Filter Queen, that filters all the air before it leaves the machine. Also, get a high quality door mat. It can collect as much as 60 percent of the toxic junk we track in on our shoes.

Get an air cleaner, but don’t be duped by any company’s claims that they can miraculously clean the air without using fans or filters. Stay away from air cleaners that use ozone. Ozone is a toxic substance that will harm your lungs - in the stratosphere, though, it protects our planet from the harmful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. Ozone air cleaners do not remove the pollutants! The molecules of ozone attract toxic substance and pollutants, but they settle to the floor or attach to your furniture. They don’t leave the house!

If you really suffer from air pollution, don’t forget to get an air cleaner with filters and fans for your car. Inside that sealed mobile box, you are breathing concentrated pollutants at a dramatically higher concentration than at home.

Next week, I will review some of the powerful alternative medicine practices that have helped many people with environmental illnesses.


Auto traffic contributes to air pollution in downtown Denver. (Photo courtesy National Renewable Energy Lab)
Rather than scorn people who suffer from environmental illnesses or multiple chemical sensitivities, we should view them as the miner’s canaries of our time. While many of you may not feel incapacitated by our threatened air, earth, and water, how often can you say that you feel really great or even good? Feeling poorly has become an acceptable norm in a society that places little value on the individual.

People with environmental illnesses are foreshadowing things to come for us all if we continue on this perilous path.

It is painfully sad to realize that we live in a world where the richest nations do little to help those who suffer from the effects of the toxic substances produced in the manufacture and disposal of the things we are told we need. Products, drugs, and even foods are sold, even if testing resulted in deaths or critical illnesses. Economies are based on the premise that if only one, two, or even five percent of the population suffers from the effects of a substance, whether it is a vaccine or pesticide, the risk is acceptable.

We must all insist on a different mindset. We must all demand a fundamental shift in economic perception, a shift that places value on an individual’s pain and suffering, whether that individual is a child, woman, man or animal. If even one person is killed or made critically ill by a manufactured substance, then it must not be released. The resources exist to do better and companies must be forced to spend their money to create safe alternatives, whether they are household goods or drugs.

We must start making decisions based on those that become sick, not based on those who don’t. Any other choice denies our humanity and poisons our souls.


Note: I have no connection to any of the resellers mentioned below. They are presented to get you started on researching this on your own.

1. A number of “Healing Our World” commentaries have been written on the impacts of our food choices and the quality of our water. Go to: http://www.healingourworld.com and put “food” and “water” into the search engine.

2. Read about why ozone is harmful at: http://www.epa.gov/airnow/consumer.html The full report by the EPA about why ozone air cleaners are not approved or recommended is at: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/ozonegen.html.

3. The American Lung Association recommends against ozone producing air cleaners at: http://www.lungusa.org/air/air00_aircleaners.html

4. The National Institute of Environmental Health Science also recommends against ozone air cleaners at: http://www.niehs.nih.gov/oc/factsheets/ozone/airfresh.htm

5. A line of high quality, and expensive, filter masks are made by the Respro Company at: http://www.respro.com/ Their products are carried in the U.S. by a number of companies, including Allergy Direct at: http://www.allergydirect.com/store/category.asp?catID=957

6. Check out the Bottled Water Web at: http://www.bottledwaterweb.com/. It is industry supported, but does have some interesting information.

7. See the Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Referral and Resources site at: http://www.mcsrr.org/

8. See comprehensive reports on the problems with drinking water from the Environment Working Group at: http://www.ewg.org/issues/home.php?i=5

9. See a survey of some of the dangers of tap water at: http://www.mindfully.org/Water/Tap-Water.htm

10. Find out who your Congressional representatives are and e-mail them. Tell them that they must take environmental illness seriously. If you know your Zip code, you can find them at: http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/ziptoit.html

{Jackie Alan Giuliano, Ph.D. is a writer and teacher in Seattle. He can be found trying to keep his family safe without being panicked and paranoid. Please send your thoughts, comments, and visions to him at: jackie@healingourworld.com and visit his web site at: http://www.healingourworld.com}