Article of Interest: Decades After Congress’ Orders, Toxics Still Contaminate Millions of Schools

toxins at school chemical intolerance TILT

Our team at the Hoffman Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT) Program at UT Health San Antonio wanted to share this important external article:

Article of Interest: Decades After Congress’ Orders, Toxics Still Contaminate Millions of Schools,” from the Environmenal Working Group.

More than 40 years ago, Congress banned harmful polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, from schools. And it’s been 37 years since Congress directed schools to address asbestos. But today, millions of schools continue to be plagued by these and other toxic chemicals …
… a total of 54 percent of public school districts surveyed in 2019 have outdated heating and ventilation systems, which can lead to respiratory problems like asthma.

This is important for people who experience chemical intolerance, said Dr. Claudia Miller, allergist/immunologist, professor emeritus, and leader of the Hoffman TILT Program at UT Health San Antonio.

“Completely overlooked are the increasing indoor air exposures at school and at home, especially since the pandemic, including bleach, various fragrances, many common disinfectants (for example, those whose names end in ‘ol’) and smoke from any source,” Miller said.

These exposures appear to sensitize mast cells—our immune system’s first responders to foreign substances or “xenobiotics.”

Subsequent reexposure to even a few molecules of these and other xenobiotics can cause sensitized mast cells to release thousands of inflammatory molecules, triggering multisystem symptoms in sensitized individuals.

“Mast cells are also our bodies’ first responders to intracellular organisms including Coronaviruses,” Miller said. “We still have much to learn about the role of indoor air chemicals and particles like smoke particles from fires or tobacco in increasing susceptibility to Covid-19. However, it is a safe bet that airborne gases, vapors, and particles like tobacco smoke will increase airway inflammation and susceptibility to any lung infection.”

Miller urged schools and multifamily residences minimize indoor air exposures to prevent the impact of chemical intolerance on health.

“Our studies show that chemical intolerance can afflict one in five (20%) U.S. adults,” Miller said. “Further, chemically intolerant mothers diagnosed using the QEESI are more than twice as likely to have sensitive children affected by ADHD and three times as likely to have a child diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.”

How chemically sensitive are you?

Answer these three questions from the Brief Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (BREESI):

  1. Do you feel sick when you are exposed to tobacco smoke, certain fragrances, nail polish/remover, engine exhaust, gasoline, air fresheners, pesticides, paint/thinner, fresh tar/asphalt, cleaning supplies, new carpet or furnishings? By sick, we mean: headache, difficulty thinking, difficulty breathing, weakness, dizziness, upset stomach, etc.
  2. Are you unable to tolerate or do you have adverse or allergic reactions to any drugs or medications (such as antibiotics, anesthetics, pain relievers, X-ray contrast dye, vaccines or birth control pills), or to an implant, prosthesis, contraceptive chemical or device, or other medical/surgical/dental material or procedure?
  3. Are you unable to tolerate or do you have adverse reactions to any foods such as dairy products, wheat, corn, eggs, caffeine, alcoholic beverages, or food additives (e.g., MSG, food dye)?

If you answer YES to any of these three questions, take the Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (QEESI) and share the results with your doctor!


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