What is Environmental Medicine and why is it important?
Environmental Medicine is a field of medicine that is distinct from the more established and recognized fields of toxicology, occupational and industrial medicine and public health. In these fields, the concern is acute or long-term toxicity with a specific compound that have known characteristics. These are treated as emergency situations.
Environmental Medicine is concerned with the investigation and management of the combination of toxicants from our environment and our daily exposures. These daily exposures are often very small, but not inconsequential and we are seeing their effects on our health. These daily exposures may not cause signs or symptoms of toxicity or poisoning, and their effects can go unnoticed for years in some individuals. As time goes on, such exposures can have negative effects on fertility, growth, development and aging. These toxicants can also promote chronic illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, cancers and cognitive decline.
Clinicians trained in Environmental Medicine assess and treat the root cause(s) of disease as it relates to the patient’s environmental exposures and unique genetic ability to manage such exposures.
Toxicants include toxic metals and elements, pesticides, particulate matter (i.e. exhaust from vehicles, factories and dust), additives found in personal care products, foods and beverages; many items commonly found in many homes, medication, as well as chemically-treated new materials and mold found in water-damaged areas.