Rob Brown, MD

A Physician's Unique Perspective on Wellness

Author: Rob Brown (Page 2 of 5)

An Introduction to EMF: Basic Cell Phone and Tablet Precautions

What is electromagnetic frequency (EMF)?

Everyone everywhere interacts with EMF everyday. Radio waves, microwaves, wifi, and sunlight are all everyday examples of EMF. These bandwidths of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) exist on a continuum spanning from extremely low frequency (ELF) waves to X-rays and gamma radiation with higher frequencies harnessing greater energy. 

The term EMF is now commonly used to represent the lower end of the electromagnetic spectrum, and includes extremely low frequency (ELF), very low frequency (VLF), and radio frequency (RF) waves. Visible light, a narrow band of higher frequency, is the only part of the electromagnetic spectrum we can “see” with our eyes. Understanding that visible light is part of the same electromagnetic spectrum as ELF-EMF and RF is important. 

EMF sources

The sun irradiates Earth with a broad array of EMF, warming the planet, and providing plants frequencies with which they can generate chemical energy. Human generated EMF fields were first created during the advent of electricity in the 1800s. Today, EMF is produced from technology utilizing electricity and devices that send and receive wireless communication. We have learned how to modulate EMF, meaning attach information to these various frequencies to fully harness the power of this technology. Human generated EMF is emitted by numerous sources including :

        Wifi routers
        ALEXA and other SMART home devices
        Baby Monitors
        Cell phones, Tablets, smart watches, smart TVs
        Microwave ovens
        Smart Lights
        Smart meters
        Ground currents
       “Dirty” Electricity  
        Power cords
        Light bulbs
        Electrical transmission lines
        Gaming consoles
        Blue tooth devices and wireless ear buds
        CPAP machines and health monitoring equipment
        Hybrid vehicles and electric cars
        Cell phone towers, radar, 5G small cells

If you live in an urban environment, you are more than likely surrounded by devices that produce overlapping EMF fields throughout your day, everyday. These fields travel invisibly through the air and penetrate the walls of our homes, businesses, and our bodies. Depending on the frequency and signal strength, the EMF’s energy may pass through your body or become absorbed. The signal strength, referred to as the amplitude, is much greater at the energy source, so standing right next to a microwave oven or a wifi router is going to blast you with much more EMF than if you are 20 feet away from the same source. 
 

Why we should all care about EMF

We are living through an explosion of technology generating EMF. The extent to which our environment has been infiltrated by EMF from electricity and wireless communication is truly mind-blowing.

Consider these two maps of the Continental US and Canada showing wifi networks in 2003 and 2019 (from www.wigle.net)


2003                                                  2019

This technology is coming at us with a cost most of us are unaware of. Perhaps your vision is deteriorating you received a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism,  or you can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep anymore. For other’s, it may mean irregular heart beatsAre you or your children depressed? Yes, this too could be the result of too much EMF exposure. Unfortunately, many more increasingly common conditions  have also been associated with EMF exposure. We should all care about EMF. Our bodies absorb this energy and react in different ways. All frequencies of energy are biologically active. Like chemical toxins and toxicants, EMF can damage the body’s functionality. Learning about electropollution is important for every one of us.
 

Penetrating and potentially damaging heat

If you have ever held a cell phone up to your ear (something you will no longer want to do after reading this blog series), you have undoubtedly noticed that your ear and cheek heat up quickly while you are using the phone in this manner. Did you know that the temperature rise you experience is not limited to the skin surface? If you hold a cell phone against your ear to talk, the heating effects from EMF penetrate deep into the skull and warm the brain!  For children, this effect is more dramatic than for adults. The heating effect is significantly less when you hold the cell phone away from the skin surface. Similarly, the warmth you feel in your lap where your tablet has been sitting, is EMF produced by your device penetrating and becoming absorbed. Water is the most effective absorber of EMF and our bodies are composed of mostly water. Consider that a microwave oven heats up food with frequencies not much higher than those used for wireless communication! 

 The human body is held at a specific temperature, 37 degrees C (98.6 degrees F) for an important reason. Living systems are composed of proteins which perform critical life tasks such as maintaining a genetic code through the formation of DNA. Proteins also compose enzymes which work as little three dimensional machines accomplishing innumerable important functions in every cell of the body.

The ability of an enzyme or protein to do its job is determined by its physical shape which is only able to be maintained within a specific temperature range. When temperatures rise above 40 degrees C (104 degrees F), (only 5 degrees over our normal body temperature), proteins begin to lose their shape and functionality, a process called denaturing.

EMF exposure from the common usage of devices, won’t cause an increase in the body’s core temperature, but can generate local hot spots within the body’s tissues which may cause local proteins to denature and compromise the functioning of the affected cells. This is a dangerous and scary proposition.


Recommendations:

Follow this basic rule of thumb…If you feel warmth from an electrical device, turn it off and/or move it away from your body. 

  • Never hold your cell phone up to your head. Cell phone manufacturers include an information sheet with their packaging that specifies not to keep the cell phone within 1 inch of the body when in use. This is an important precaution. Get in the habit of placing your cell phone in speaker mode and laying it on a desk or countertop when in use. 
  • Do not place an EMF generating device on your lap, especially if you are pregnant! I dread walking through an airport and seeing a young expectant mother with a portable computer on her belly knowing she has tapped into wifi and her unborn child is being irradiated. Research has shown that prenatal exposure to EMF may affect brain development, future learning, and memory. Industry renamed the “laptop” a “tablet” because these machines belong on a table and not on a lap. If you need to put a device on your lap, make sure it is in airplane mode with Bluetooth turned off. 
  • Do not walk around with a Bluetooth device, including wireless earbuds, in your ear. These devices bring EMF directly to the brain via the ear canal. EMF has been implicated as a cause for the increase in acoustic neuromas (a benign form of brain tumor) over the past decade! Although research on Bluetooth devices has not yet been published, why take the chance? Best to listen to music through an external speaker. If you need to use a headphone set, find an accessory that breaks off the electrical current and associated EMF away from the ear canal by interposing a segment of plastic tubing. These devices are a much safer way to go for even wired headsets bring EMF currents into the ear canal. 

Changing cell phone and tablet habits may seem like a burden, but new routines become engrained quickly. I strongly suggest you apply these recommendations and begin limiting EMF exposure. Your future health may depend on it.

Preparations for an Incipient War on the Corona Virus COVID-19

As a health care professional, I’ve been receiving daily emails and updates on the state of the latest corona virus, known as COVID-19. As we all know, the disease is spreading. I am sending out this blog to my readership to provide suggestions for optimizing your immune system. If you acquire the virus, it will be a battle fought from within. Even though our bodies have never been exposed to this virus, and therefore have no antibodies to it, there are a few things we can do to help our immune systems combat the effects of the virus. My children asked me this morning if the corona virus was something they should be worried about. I told them no, but then gave them a list of simple precautions they should take starting today. I want them to be ready to combat the effects of the virus should it eventually get to our neighborhood and their school. I’d like to propose the same suggestions to you, my readers and your friends and family members so you all can be prepared for the “just in case” scenario. I suggest you start implementing these practices ASAP so you give your body time to fortify its defenses.

1. Proper Hygiene

Try your best to prevent the virus from gaining access to your nose, mouth, and ultimately, your lungs. Corona virus attacks the respiratory system, i.e. the lungs. If an infected person coughs,  the virus is expectorated and contained within the tiny droplets that flee the mouth and land on tables, chairs, handrails, door knobs, the floor, clothing etc. I have read a report from the CDC that the virus can reportedly lay on a surface from a few hours to a couple of days and still remain virulent (CDC.gov. However, a recent letter from James Robb, MD, a retired professor of pathology from UC San Diego, and an expert on corona viruses,  recently wrote a letter to the media expressing his concerns about the virus, in which he states that he believes the virus may remain virulent on surfaces for up to 1 week! When an uninfected person puts their hand on a contaminated surface, the virus can be picked up on the skin surface or on a piece of clothing. The virus gains entry to the respiratory system if a person then touches their nose or mouth with their hand or other colonized material. 

To limit your risk for exposure, wash your hands frequently during the day, especially after you have put your hands on public handrails, door knobs, and other surfaces. Try your hardest not to touch your face with your hands. If you are in the habit of touching your face, like most of us are, putting a mask on may help remind you to do otherwise. Although I am not typically a fan of hand sanitizers, if you are exposed to public markets, buildings or other surfaces, and do not have access to a sink and soap to wash your hands, a hand sanitizer is a decent way to go. Note that antibacterial soaps do not kill the virus. A virus is a protein and not technically alive. It therefore cannot be killed like a bacterium. Proteins can be denatured after which they no longer function, which is why the alcohol in hand sanitizers will eliminate the virus.

Keep your home clean. Take your shoes off at the door and wash your hands as soon as you get home. If you were exposed to public spaces in which you might have come in contact with the virus, you may consider shedding your clothes and placing them into a hamper upon arrival home. It might seem like overkill, but it may also help keep the virus out of your living space.

2. Reduce Environmental Toxins

COVID-19,  corona virus, causes severe oxidative stress in the cells lining your lung. Oxidative stress is a condition in which atoms and molecules within our cells are robbed of electrons. It is because of severe oxidative stress that some people land in the hospital on respirators. There are many environmental toxins that cause oxidative stress and reducing environmental toxicity is my main push for this blog and my book TOXIC HOME/CONSCIOUS HOME. One of the most easily avoidable is that caused by electromagnetic frequency (EMF). EMF causes oxidative stress! (Yakymenko, I, et al.) Turn off your wifi router when you are not using the internet. Put your phone on airplane mode when you are carrying it in transit. Unless you must react real time, I recommend placing your phone in airplane mode for 30-60 minute intervals and periodically check for messages rather than having the phone on continuously while it is in your immediate vicinity. (For more information about the health effects of EMF, sign up for my newsletter at robbrownmd.com.)

3. Boost your intake of anti-oxidants

The cure for oxidative stress is to increase your intake of anti-oxidants. These are molecules that generously donate electrons to molecules that are deficient. There are many anti-oxidants. Blueberries, strawberries, kale, carrots, oranges, dark chocolate, tea, are among the extensive list. A quick google search will provide you with lots of options. Think of fruits and vegetables. Incorporate at least 5 servings of anti-oxidants into your diet each day and remember to wash your produce with a fruit and veggie wash to remove wax and underlying pesticides and fungicides.

4. Take supplements

There are many excellent supplements designed to help support immune health. Of these, there are 3 I strongly recommend you take daily. In my experience, these will effectively bolster your immune system. 

    1. Vitamin C – Take 1000 mg twice a day, once with breakfast and once with dinner would work well. Vitamin C is water soluble and will be excreted if you don’t need all that you take. By taking this vitamin twice a day, you will ensure you have a fairly continuous supply of Vitamin C on board for your cells during the day.

    2. Vitamin D – Take 2000-5000 iu each day. I recommend 5000 units for most people, but if you are petite, you may want to lower that number to 2000. Vitamin D is fat soluble and can become toxic if taken in excess. At these levels, toxicity will not occur. Vitamin D is incredibly important for the immune system.

    3. Zinc – I have received word that corona virus replication is inhibited by zinc. Sucking on a zinc throat lozenge will help reduce the chance of the virus making it to your lungs, should you become exposed. Alternatively, take an oral zinc supplement. I take a 50 mg zinc capsule orally each day. 

5. Get a Good night’s sleep each and every night

If you haven’t read my blog on how light and EMF affect your sleep and melatonin production, I suggest you take a few minutes to read it now. It is crucial to optimize your melatonin production every night, especially during the winter months in the northern latitudes. Ambient light and EMF in the bedroom will suppress melatonin production. Turn off night lights, TVs and anything else in your bedroom that produces a glow in the darkness of your bedroom. In addition, eliminate all sources of EMF in or near your bedroom. Wifi and other sources of EMF suppress melatonin production just like light.  Eliminating sources of EMF can be a tricky proposition and I suggest you read my upcoming blog series on EMF for further information. But, for now, there are a few things you can do starting tonight:

  1.  Turn off your wifi router when you head to bed. 
  2. If you have a wireless printer, go into settings and turn off wireless capability before bedtime.
  3. If you have a cordless phone in your bedroom, turn it off or unplug it.
  4. If you keep a cell phone in your bedroom while you sleep, either turn it off or place it in airplane mode.
  5. If you have a loved one in a nursing facility, hospital, or rehab center, provide them with ear plugs and an eye mask so they can get a good night’s sleep. These facilities notoriously have machines that beep and multiple sources of ambient light in patient rooms, exactly the opposite of what the patient needs to optimize melatonin production and regain health.

6. Relax

    This is not a time for panic. The overwhelming majority of people that catch this virus will experience mild cold symptoms and that’s it. Only a very small percentage of unfortunate people will suffer catastrophic respiratory failure from this disease and will require hospitalization. Take time to relax for at least 30 minutes every day. Sit in a quiet room with a good book, listen to music, meditate, pet your dog or cat, and/or take a walk. Frequent relaxation will reduce stress and strengthen your immune system.

I trust you will find these suggestions to be helpful. If you take the time to incorporate each of these practices into your daily routine, you will feel healthy and be better fortified to combat the COVID-19 virus should it come in to your community. Please share this information with your friends and family and feel free to forward them this blog and a link to the blog on my website. 

Thank you and stay well this spring and beyond.

Yours in good health!

Rob Brown, MD

A Metal for the Heart

Magnesium Deficiency, Glyphosate, and Coronary Artery Spasm

Last summer, the mainstream media brought our attention to the presence of glyphosate in the nation’s food supply. Testing proved that even beloved breakfast cereals, like Cheerios, contain traces of this chemical, the active ingredient in Round-up. The information that our bodies absorb glyphosate from contaminated food now needs to be disseminated — along with further research into how glyphosate may complicate common-enough problems, like magnesium deficiency.

This popular herbicide has been under intense international scrutiny for the past year. Each research study details yet another harmful effect one may suffer from chronic exposure. Concentrations of glyphosate in human urine have been increasing over time. So, many of us have been absorbing residue of this herbicide for years. Glyphosate can damage the intestinal microbiome before being absorbed. In fact, a recent lawsuit is based on this claim that Roundup kills healthy gut bacteria and causes intestinal disease.  The latest scientific research analysis shows a “compelling link” between glyphosate exposure and the development of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Are there other systemic effects we can expect from increasing our consumption of glyphosate? A recent health scare got me thinking.

Chest Pain

The phone rang at 5:30 am. Suspecting it was serious, I quickly answered the call. I listened as a friend told me her concerns. The week prior, she had spent an evening at a friend’s house in a room filled with lit scented candles. The intense odor, likely a plethora of volatile organic compounds, made her sick. She experienced a chest pressure and felt as if she had an air bubble in the middle of her chest. It had passed, but now, she was feeling a more localized chest discomfort in her lower chest and increased belching. She was concerned she might have suffered a mild heart attack.

In women, the signs of heart disease are often atypical and may too often be dismissed as heartburn or other unrelated conditions in the chest. I told her, “I’m not sure if your symptoms are related to your heart or if you may have a hiatal hernia. But, the first thing you should do is go to the emergency room and have them exclude heart disease.”

An EKG showed an abnormal wave pattern. Immediately following, the medical machine went into high gear. A cardiologist, called in for consultation, quickly re-examined the EKG and checked the lab results. He was quite confident that she had a significant blockage, one that would require a stent. In fact, he had pinpointed exactly which one of the 3 major arteries supplying the heart was involved. She signed the required consent paperwork and was prepped for an immediate heart catheterization.

After the procedure, the cardiologist called me, the designated contact, with surprise. Her arteries were completely clean… normal.  She had absolutely no plaque or narrowing at all. 

The cardiologist gave her a diagnosis of coronary artery spasm and placed her on nitroglycerin, a medication often used to treat this condition. Follow up tests showed no damage to the heart muscle.

For the cardiologist, the problem was solved.

But, I had questions. Why did she have coronary artery spasm? I was concerned for her as well as for myself. I had been having similar symptoms, but had ignored them. Did I also have coronary artery spasm?

After discussing these symptoms with my integrative physician, he intuitively suspected that I may have a magnesium deficiency and recommended I take a mineral supplement. It made sense. A few nights earlier, I had woken up with a “Charley horse”, a condition also associated with decreased magnesium. Arteries can also spasm because their walls contain muscle. My discomfort subsided within the same day I started taking the new supplement. 

I began to wonder… how common is this? Magnesium deficiency is a recognized cause of coronary artery spasm, but this condition has historically been uncommon. Glyphosate is known to chelate many metals making them unusable, including magnesium.  So, is there a connection between glyphosate, magnesium deficiency and coronary artery spasm?

It is unrealistic to think that anyone can truly avoid dietary consumption of glyphosate, including those who choose to eat mainly organic food as even organic products have shown on occasion to be contaminated with glyphosate.

What Can We Do About Magnesium Deficiency?

In order to decrease your risk of health consequences associated with the depletion of trace metals like Magnesium:

  1. Increase your ingestion of foods containing minerals. Bananas, avocado, chocolate and others have higher levels of magnesium. Although grains should have higher levels of magnesium, conventional grains are now often sprayed with glyphosate prior to harvest. 
  2. Consider a daily mineral supplement and take it with a meal to optimize absorption.

Important Note:

There are many causes of muscle spasm and coronary artery spasm in particular. Magnesium deficiency is an easy fix. But, if you are experiencing chest discomfort, you need to get checked out by a physician ASAP. It is crucial to know if you are experiencing ischemia (diminished blood flow) to your heart from plaque lining your arteries, coronary artery spasm, or worse yet, a heart attack. Non heart related conditions like esophageal spasm and a hiatal hernia can cause similar symptoms. If you are diagnosed with coronary artery spasm, inquire to see if your magnesium level is low. Magnesium supplementation is easily achieved and less costly than taking a prescription medication.

Learn more about the powerful and insidious effects of glysophate in this post on Feeding the World, Food & Poison.

The Radon Test Ruse

Barry was an experienced home inspector recommended by my real estate agent.

“He’s the best in the business. Extremely thorough!”

Never a good idea, I know, but once the purchase agreement was signed, the home inspections needed to be done quickly. For me, finding references for an inspector in the allotted time frame seemed like a burden. So, I took a chance and listened to the advice of my realtor. Barry was the owner of his company and had been in business for over 35 years!

The inspector was a nice guy with a few gadgets my kids found entertaining. One device could locate hidden sources of moisture and then there was the drone that flew like a giant insect, over the house to visually inspect the roof. I was on board with his demonstration until we went into the basement.

As we walked down the narrow staircase, I noticed an open elongated, rectangular window at the bottom of the stairs. We turned the corner where two other windows were open. The inspector casually closed these two windows and proceeded to the furnace, continuing his inspection. From the furnace, he moved to the sewer line and then to the fuse box. Nob and tube wiring, the old fashioned kind that didn’t have a ground. Great, I thought… more to be updated. I looked beneath the stairs and asked, “Do you think that’s mold?”

“No. That’s paint.”

Then, he changed the subject and asked, “Do you know anything about radon?”

“Actually, yes!” I said.

“So what do you know about radon?” He asked, looking at the wiring with his flashlight.

“I know it’s the most common cause of lung cancer in people who don’t smoke.”

He seemed satisfied. I turned to the realtor and mentioned that we needed to get someone to do the radon inspection.

“It’s taken care of!” He said proudly.

“Who’s doing it?” I asked.

“Barry here is!”

The inspector smiled smugly.

“Yep, got the canisters over there” He pointed over to a workbench where I indeed saw two canisters.

The real estate agent chimed in, “We should have the results of the radon inspection by tomorrow!”

The inspector then went back to the fusebox.

“Wait a second!” I said, “Why were the windows open down here? How can you do a radon test with open windows?”

The inspector seemed a little irritated and said that the windows were now closed.

“There is a window at the bottom of the stairs that is still open!” Now angry, I asked, “Who opened the windows?”

He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Maybe the seller. He must have forgotten that we were doing the radon test. I’ll run the test for 4 days, instead of the usual 48 hours to compensate for the windows being opened.”

I wasn’t satisfied. Neither the realtor nor the inspector seemed concerned, but radon isn’t something to play around with. I fired Barry and found a new home inspection company, one that I properly vetted.

The new team reinspected the entire home and ironically, discovered that my future home is filled with toxins. Not only is there lead paint, asbestos, and mold, but the radon levels were measured at 4.9 picoCuries per liter (pCi/l).

Radon levels over 4 pCi/l need to be remediated.

Radon

Radon is found in many areas of the country. It is a byproduct from the natural decay of uranium, thorium and radium, radio-active elements found in the earth’s crust. Studies have suggested that hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, “fracking”, has caused an increase in radon concentration within homes in some parts of the country. 

Low concentrations of radon gas are ubiquitous outdoors and are of no concern. But, when radon infiltrates through cracks and seams in a building’s foundation and walls, it can accumulate in stagnant indoor air, particularly in the basement. Remediation is not typically a difficult process and is not costly.

If you haven’t had a radon test done in your home, schedule one. There are several different tests to choose from, ranging from a basic 48 hour test, commonly used for real estate transactions, to more comprehensive long term studies that measure fluctuations in radon over months and during different seasons of the year.

As basic as it sounds, ensure that all of the windows in the home are closed at least 12 hours before the radon test begins and that they remain closed during the entire testing period so the test results are accurate and usable.

Yes, our future 108 year old home contains a myriad of environmental toxins. But, I will be able to remediate them, as needed, now that I am aware to ensure my safety and the well-being of my family.

 

GMOs and Glyphosate – Feeding the World, Food and Poison

The corn all looked the same as if it had been cloned. The ears were same size, same girth, and same color. Even the tassels were the same length. So I casually asked the roadside attendant, “Is this GMO corn?” 

Both my kids rolled their eyes and turned around, looking for any possible escape from this embarrassing situation. 

The woman looked at me with a blank stare and said, “Well, I don’t know what GMO is, but it’s sweet corn.”

Ugh. (In her defense, although this was the summer of 2018, it was just before the heavy media blitz on glyphosate.)

I was feeling great and it was a beautiful day. So, I thought, “What the heck?” and bought a bag.

For dinner, we barbecued the corn on a grill leaving on the husks. The corn was so tasty, I had two ears. That evening though, I had a vague, diffuse stomach pain which disturbed my sleep.

When I awoke, my symptoms had dissipated and I quickly forgot about my prior discomfort. So during our next dinner, I cooked up more corn, this time boiling the ears in salty water. That repeat dose seemed to instigate a problem in my gut. I was awake most of the night, bloated and suffering from a severe, steady abdominal pain. In the morning, my son awoke and expressed that he too had a stomach ache and couldn’t sleep. His matching symptoms fueled my suspicion that the our maladies were related to the previous night’s dinner, and the corn, in particular.   

I am aware that GMO sweet corn is grown in soil doused in Round-up and genetically engineered to produce its own insecticide. So, by eating what I then suspected was GMO corn, I knew we ingested not only glyphosate residue, but also a pesticide.

Glyphosate in the media

Recently, a judge in California found Monsanto liable for their chemical glyphosate’s role in a landscaper developing cancer. Those who routinely use this “chemical tool” to make farming and gardening easier, are befuddled as to what this could mean for their future livelihood and their health.

And then, the Environmental Working Group announced it found traces of glyphosate in breakfast cereals containing oats, including oatmeal and General Mills Cheerios! These two cereals are particularly popular with children and many adults who choose them to eat “heart healthy”. 

It is now apparent that Glyphosate is throughout the environment and the food supply. GMO crops contain glyphosate residue, but so do most non-GMO grains. Conventional non-GMO grains, including wheat, rye, oats, and others are sprayed with glyphosate immediately prior to harvest to make harvest easier. Even sunflowers are now sprayed with glyphosate prior to harvest! Realistically, how could a farming operation or factory effectively wash off the glyphosate residue from each wheat berry, oat or sunflower seed?

What is glyphosate?

Glyphosate is an effective nonselective herbicide because it is a metal chelator. This means the chemical binds to metals and makes them unusable. Without metals, cells cannot properly construct proteins and enzymes. Glyphosate is also a patented antibiotic. So what happens to you and your gut bacteria when you chronically ingest a metal chelator that also functions as an antibiotic? 

Have you heard of celiac disease?

Many question a connection between repeated glyphosate ingestion and chronic digestive problems including gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. From my perspective, this seems likely. If I told you that celiac disease was so rare 25 years ago, that radiologists around the country all had copies of the same exact teaching file case to teach their residents what the disease looked like just in case anyone would ever encounter a case. It wasn’t until around 2006 that I saw my first patient with a genuine case of celiac disease. Then, I saw another… and another. Now the symptoms of gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are so common, physicians don’t even order imaging studies to make these diagnoses anymore!

What can you do?

Be conscious and aware of what you are eating. Try to reduce your exposure to conventional grains and processed foods. Unfortunately, even organic grains have been shown to be tainted with glyphosate, so eating organic won’t keep you glyphosate-free, but it will help.

Follow the news and understand that this is a moving target. Recently, Monsanto received approval for a new form of genetically encoded insecticide utilizing a novel technique called RNA interference. This “gene” is being encoded into corn to hopefully selectively kill off a pest called the western corn root-worm. This product and will more than likely become part of our food supply by the end of the decade. What this technology will do to our health is unknown.

Be proactive with probiotics. Your choice, but try to have a probiotic food or drink daily to help counteract the harmful effects of ingested antibiotics and glyphosate on your microbiome.

Probiotics certainly helped me. After tossing out the remaining ears of corn, I increased my ingestion of kefir, raw sauerkraut and dilute apple cider vinegar. Within a few weeks, I was much better!

 

Man Boobs, Breast Cancer, and Plastics

I don’t often get to discuss gynecomastia — more commonly known as “man boobs” with a stranger. 

After an arduous workout, I entered the small, hot, wood paneled room which was more crowded than usual. It was one of the only times I had been in the sauna without hearing the whining of music coming through earbuds. Guys were actually conversing with each other.

The banter was initially over sports and exercise routines. But then, the discussion turned to experiences of aging and gaining weight. The men were different races and ranged in age from the mid 20s to the late 50s.

“I’m 57.” One guy said. “Once you hit 50, the weight just creeps up on you.”

“Man, that started happenin to me at 40!” another added.

My eyes were closed when I heard a crackle followed by a long wheeze. I opened my eyes and noticed that almost everyone in that room had a plastic water bottle. Wow! I thought… good for hydration, but drinking water from hot plastic?

One younger guy sitting next to me told the group how he had gained 50 pounds in the last year after he had started to work out. He was chunky, but not obese. By his side sat an oversized, purple opaque plastic water bottle with a ribbed plastic straw.

“You got man-boobs to boot!” One guy teased, laughing.

“Yeah, I got ’em too.” Another guy added. “I don’t know how that happened!”

Should I say something? I had some ideas about how to lose man boobs. But I held back.

In this pack, I didn’t feel comfortable playing teacher.

I left the room and took a shower, feeling as if I had missed an opportunity to help a few people.

What are Man Boobs?

Many people think that “man-boobs” are merely excess fat. In other words, that when a man gains weight, he deposits fat in his breast. That’s not actually correct.

Man-boobs do contain fat, but they also contain breast tissue, a condition medically referred to as gynecomastia. As a radiologist, I see men with breast tissue all the time. CT scans clearly show this condition because they allow a view through the body separating out structures of differing density. Breast tissue is denser than fat.

Twenty-five years ago, gynecomastia was something I saw once in awhile, perhaps 2 or 3 times a week. It was a condition often seen in patients with alcohol related liver disease. Now, I see gynecomastia throughout the day, everyday. It is common in children as well as in middle aged and older men.

Why is this happening?

Breast tissue develops in response to estrogen. It’s not normal for a man to produce excess estrogen — or for them to be wondering how to lose man boobs, a question that’s become more and more common in recent years. So where is this coming from?

Have you heard of estrogen mimicking compounds? These chemicals are in our plastics, synthetic fragrances, food additives, and personal care products. The scientific literature is replete with articles describing the estrogenic effects of many of these compounds. Yet, there are almost no articles calling out these chemicals as causing diseases associated with excessive estrogen, among them, gynecomastia in men and breast cancer. We know plastics contain these compounds. We also know that these chemicals leach into the food and water held within plastic containers. We know that plastic water and soda bottles are, and have been, a source of long term exposure to these chemicals for many of us, perhaps for decades.

Excess estrogen can lead to many health concerns, including breast cancer, endometrial cancer, cervical cancer, obesity, and gynecomastia. Are estrogen mimicking chemicals responsible for the dramatic increase in the incidence of breast cancer, now affecting 1 in 8 women during their lifetime in the US?! One recent article showed an association of PCB 138 with breast cancer and called for further environmental epidemiological analysis to assess the association of other chemicals such as phthalates, BPA and other PCBs with the development of cancer.

Even though it hasn’t been proved yet, it makes sense to me that these chemicals can cause noticeable hormonal effects on our bodies, and yes, may cause cancer.

So when you read about estrogen mimicking chemicals within a product that you are going to eat from, drink from, put on, or inhale, take that information seriously. Assume these chemicals ARE affecting your health and the health of your family. Although these chemicals are pretty much ubiquitous in our environment, it is possible to consciously decrease your exposure to them. Limit the frequency you drink from plastic bottles. Read up on your personal care products and try to eliminate those that contain these contaminants. A review of these product lists in the environmental working group (EWG) website is a great place to do some research.

Back in the Locker Room

After showering and getting dressed, I saw the younger guy with gynecomastia and struck up a conversation.

“I don’t mean to neb into your personal business, but I overheard you say that you gained a lot of weight this past year.”

“Yeah, man” he said. “I can’t figure it out.”

I then told him about the chemicals in his plastic water bottle and suggested that he get a glass bottle or a stainless steel bottle instead. I could see a light turn on in his eye and he said… “You know, that makes a lot of sense.”

I told him that I didn’t think it was necessarily going to be a cure for his weight gain, but it would be a step in the right direction.

He was appreciative and I went home feeling helpful.

See also: 5G: A Few Things You Should Know to Protect Your Health

Can Apple Cider Vinegar Reverse Cholesterol Plaque Build-up?

Disease from too much AND too little cholesterol

I am often asked if drinking dilute apple cider vinegar can lower cholesterol. Yes. I believe this is worth consideration.

Most everyone in the US has been conditioned to believe that cholesterol is bad for one’s health. Scientists have defined bad cholesterol (LDL) and good cholesterol (HDL) and further subdivided those categories. We all know someone who watches their cholesterol intake and takes a cholesterol lowering medication such as a statin to limit the liver’s ability to produce cholesterol. Meats, eggs, lard, bacon, and butter are considered dangerous foods because they are high in cholesterol.

What is the reason for the anti-cholesterol movement? Atherosclerosis. Cholesterol deposits adhere to arterial walls. Initially forming fatty streaks, but over time, these deposits grow and cause structural damage to the arterial wall. Progressive narrowing of the artery’s lumen, a condition termed stenosis, can eventually compromise the blood supply to the tissue or organ the vessel is supplying. If that organ is the heart, a heart attack can result. If that organ is the brain, a stroke can occur. Other conditions resulting from narrowed arteries include high blood pressure and peripheral vascular disease.

I have always had a problem limiting my cholesterol intake because I know that almost every cell in the body needs cholesterol to function properly. Each and every cell membrane  incorporates cholesterol to ensure that the membrane has proper structure and function. Our bodies also use cholesterol to make hormones, some vitamins and bile, a fluid produced by the liver to help the body digest fats. Without proper production of hormones, the body doesn’t function as well. One of the side effects of low cholesterol is depression, which may then be treated with antidepressants. With antidepressants can come many additional side effects like insomnia, requiring even more medications. Understand the slippery slope?

What do people in the rest of the world do?

After visiting Prague last spring, I was impressed by the amount of red meat the people in Czech Republic eat! We were served beef or pork at every meal of the day! In fact, during lunch and dinner, we had anywhere from one to three types of meat at each meal, including sausage. The meat was accompanied by delicious bread and/or potato dumplings, and sauerkraut at every meal. Their sauerkraut was delicious. Sauerkraut is a fermented food containing ascetic acid, and many other wonderful ingredients that enhance the immune system and support the intestinal microbiome.

During the plane ride back home, I thought about all of the foods from different cultures that eat fermented foods with their meal… yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, pickles, and so on. I began to wonder if all the cholesterol I ate in Prague could somehow have been counteracted by the acetic acid in the sauerkraut.

I had previously read many articles and blogs on the value of drinking apple cider vinegar (ACV). The most comprehensive list of health benefits from vinegar I’ve found were detailed by Chen, et.al. in 2016.  The thought came to mind that maybe one more wonderful health benefit of ACV is that it can dissolve cholesterol from the lining of an artery, and in doing so, be a natural form of angioplasty. This idea gave me the impetus to do an experiment at home.

The ‘Eggsperiment’

In preparation for my experiment to better the relationship between apple cider vinegar and lower cholesterol, I separated the yolks from 6 chicken eggs, mixed them, and placed 3 tablespoons of yolk into 4 separate pint size Mason jars. I placed each jar on its side and periodically turned them so the sides would coat with egg yolk and harden, simulating fatty streaks and cholesterol plaques

Each jar was filled with 0.9 Normal saline, the salinity of human blood, and a specific volume of ACV as follows:

1.  Saline solution with 2 oz. ACV

2.  Saline solution with 1 oz. ACV

3.  Saline solution with 1 tbsp ACV

4.  Saline solution without ACV (A control)

Each sample was placed on a hot plate with a magnetic stirring mechanism to create heat, simulating body temperature, and turbulence to mimic arterial blood flow. Each sample ran for 7 hours.

This entire experiment was run 3 separate times.

The Results

Watch the accompanying video to see that not only is the dried up egg yolk removed from the side of the mason jar in the sample with the ACV, but it is completely dissolved into what appears to be a colloidal suspension. This means that the cholesterol molecules are turned into micro-particles. Even after this suspension sat motionless for two days, there was no aggregation of cholesterol into larger fat droplets.

Compare this result with this video showing the sample run without apple cider vinegar. In this video, you can see some detachment of the cholesterol deposits from the glass jar, no doubt due mechanical agitation. But, the majority of the egg yolk remains adhered to the glass. In this sample, debris from the “plaque” swirled in the water. In a living system, these particulates would be referred to as emboli which can float downstream and block smaller arterioles and create ischemia (diminished blood flow) or infarction (cell death) of structures fed by the blood vessels. Emboli are a common cause of stroke. The experiments with lesser concentrations of ACV showed incomplete removal of cholesterol deposits by 7 hours, which were ACV concentration related, meaning that the 1 oz sample removed more of the cholesterol than the 1 tablespoon sample (videos not uploaded).

Possible Implications

Could the relationship between apple cider vinegar and lower cholesterol follow similar lines, with ACV dissolving cholesterol lining arteries in the human body? It would be simple to run a scientific experiment to study people before and after they are “treated” with a regimen drinking dilute apple cider vinegar once or twice a day for varying periods of time. Noninvasive doppler ultrasound exams could assess any interval change in the plaque burden over time.

Even if a very small amount of the plaque is removed with each dose of ACV, the cumulative effects on blood flow over time would be tremendous! After all, it takes decades of cholesterol build up to cause the ill effects associated with atherosclerosis. Maybe a cardiologist reading this blog will consider formally researching this hypothesis?! It’s crystal-clear to me that the possibilities of using apple cider vinegar to lower cholesterol deserve further, and serious, attention.

My gut tells me, in more ways than one, that the dilute ACV should be drank on an empty stomach. I suspect that if the ACV is taken while eating a fatty meal, such as in a salad dressing, the dissolving capacity of the acetic acid may be reduced. My suggestion would be to drink a glass of dilute apple cider vinegar on an empty stomach once or twice a day. I see no reason why the mixture cannot be sweetened with fruit juice or honey or even cinnamon. My bet is you’ll feel better quickly! In addition, if you are a meat eater or enjoy eating eggs and other cholesterol laden foods, add fermented foods into your diet regularly.

I just finished removing the crusted egg yolk from the samples hat hadn’t been removed by the ACV and it required quite a bit of elbow grease, a textured dish rag and detergent! Letting organic chemistry do the work was much less work!

See here for more information on how what you eat becomes you. And by the way, ACV can be useful in and around the home for many applications. For a list of suggestions, check out this article in tipsbulletin!

Tide Pods, Magnetic Laundry Tablets or the EcoWasher?

Doing the laundry isn’t a task I particularly enjoy.  It is one of those time consuming chores I continually struggle with to fit into my schedule. And now that my kids are teenagers, the laundry needs to be done 4 or 5 times a week. My interest in the technology behind washing textiles however picked up recently after I was introduced to two methods of laundering clothes without detergent, the magnetic laundry system and the EcoWasher.

Laundry Magnets?

Was it laziness or complacency? I had been given the magnetic laundry system over the holidays, but I was hesitant to try it out. Although I had been using Nikken’s magnetic technology as a tool to heal physical injuries for decades, I was unsure about the ability for magnetics to wash clothing. I played with the idea that maybe the water molecules, in being mini magnets themselves, would somehow align with the magnetic field created by the laundry magnets and that this could somehow make the water more potent at cleaning. But, I was skeptical. The blue magnets remained in their box on the kitchen counter for several weeks.

Then, jokes about the Tide Pod challenge became a more frequent, disturbing conversation in my home at dinnertime. Although we were using a less toxic detergent recommended on the EWG website, it was then that I began to think that if these magnetic discs worked, it would be great way to remove another set of toxins from the household.

You have no doubt heard that some foolish kids on the internet are videotaping themselves biting into and swallowing Tide Pods, a cute name for a pre-measured packet of Tide laundry detergent wrapped up in a shiny coating. The product is soft, colorful and swirled, and looks like a piece of candy. A similar appearing packet of dishwasher detergent is sold by Cascade, another Proctor and Gamble product. I haven’t heard of any YouTube videos of kids eating cascade, and I hope that doesn’t become the next dare!

Yes the packaging is labeled, “harmful if swallowed”, but to a teen, isn’t that so boring? I mean EVERYTHING says that?! And to a younger kid who can’t read, the packets look like flavorful, fruity treats! Tide pods are poisonous. A sampling of 5 ingredients in the Tide Pod formula includes: linear alkylbenzene sulfonate, ethanolamine, alcoholethoxy sulfate, polyethyleneimine ethoxylate, disodium diaminostilbene disulfonate etc. The idea of a child swallowing this batch of chemicals is truly frightening.

My Experience

So, I took my chances, opened up the magnetic laundry system and ran my first load of laundry. I was pleasantly surprised. The clothes did come out clean and without any odor. And trust me, my 15 year old son can make clothing unbelievably rank after a day of exercising or doing track. I did notice on a few articles of clothing that there were faint stains, so the next time I washed them, I pre-treated those items with a stain remover. I have no problem with that for I often use a stain remover with my regular detergent anyway.

I’ve been doing the laundry this way for five weeks now and I have decided that it works! Although it wasn’t something I was conscious of beforehand, I have also come to realize that our clothes no longer have the feel of, what I now recognize as being, dried detergent residue. I now realize that detergent ingredients have permeated my clothing for as long as I can remember.

EcoWasher 

Some people claim that detergent is needed to kill viruses, molds and bacteria. I don’t have any experience with this. I suppose if I have clothing or towels that have mildew in the future and the magnetic system doesn’t clean them adequately, I’ll rewash them with detergent. But, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

If you are looking for a method to wash and sanitize your clothing without chemicals, there is another product on the market called the EcoWasher. This adaptor attaches to the cold water intake valve of your washing machine and infuses ozone into the water, sanitizing your clothing in a similar method to that used in hospitals.. The basic system, The EcoWasher Pro costs around $350 and is available here.

Although I have no personal experience with this system, my good friend, who also happens to be my physician, told me he swears by the EcoWasher and calls the technology “The real deal!”

What to do?

It’s tough to break habits, and laundry is definitely an ingrained routine for many of us. In addition, advertisements and reviews often misrepresent and misinform, no doubt designed to make false claims of a product’s efficacy and to smear the reputation of competing interests. An old friend of mine expressed concern that he read on the Snopes website that the laundry magnets were proven to be a fraud. Over the years, I have noticed that this website, in particular, discredits pretty much anything and everything that isn’t status quo and pro-industry, including many products I love and have used for decades. I don’t make decisions based on the information from these types of sources. If a product sounds interesting to me, I try it out and make my own assessment. Sometimes I am disappointed, but other times I am very pleased. I have found that my joy in life often comes from my own exploration and discovery.

So, I recommend you take a moment to think about your options for laundry. Yes, there are dozens of detergents to choose from, and there are also detergent-free alternatives. It’s not a trivial decision. The chemicals in these cleansers are clearly poisonous if ingested orally, but some of these toxins come in contact with your skin 24/7 from clothing, towels and bed linens. Some of these can be absorbed directly through your skin and insidiously affect your health. Consider this, especially, if you or someone in your home suffers from allergies or other types of inflammatory disease.

Melatonin and the Health Effects of Ambient Bedroom Light

This week, as I’ve listened to newscasters talk about how the flu epidemic is taking over America, it struck me that people are likely ill, in part, because they are experiencing a melatonin deficiency.

Vitamin D and melatonin have something in common. They both strengthen the body’s immune system. Their relative production should complement each other perfectly. But, in our world of technology, they have become out of sync. Cancer and other diseases can develop if an immune system doesn’t function properly. In this post, you are going to gain an appreciation for melatonin and learn what you can do to normalize your brain’s production of this important hormone.

Winter and melatonin deficiency

It is wintertime in the northern hemisphere and people all over are getting sick. The news is filled with reports of how bad the flu is this year. Unless you are supplementing yourself with Vitamin D, your Vitamin D levels have likely dropped because the sun is low in the sky and days are short. We know that low Vitamin D levels are associated with decreased immune function. But why would mother nature do this to us? Does it make sense that we should all be put at greater risk for illness during the winter?

Although days are short, nights are long and your body’s natural response during periods of prolonged darkness is to produce more melatonin. This hormone is produced by the brain’s pineal gland, often referred to as the third eye. This gland receives information directly from the eyes and can therefore in a way, sense whether or not it is dark or light out. In the absence of light, the pineal gland secretes melatonin which has crucial beneficial health effects on your body, one of which is to strengthen the immune system.

So in the summertime, your immune system is fortified by sunlight and Vitamin D, while in the wintertime, your immune system should be enhanced by darkness and melatonin.

If this is true, why are so many people getting sick in the darkness of winter?!

Maybe one reason has to do with a mass deficiency in production. There are several common habits we share which could explain why so many of us experience melatonin deficiency.

6 simple tips to avoid melatonin deficiency:

  1. Melatonin production should be cyclical, off during the day and on at night. expose yourself to sunlight or at least full spectrum light during the day so your brain knows when it is daytime.
  2. Pick a bedtime and stick with it. When the body gets into the habit of going to sleep at a certain time, it will naturally want to fall asleep when that time arrives each day or night. Let yourself drift off when that time comes.
  3. Before going to bed, refrain from looking at all LED screens, including cell phones, laptops, tablets and TVs. Looking at an LED screen before going to sleep significantly reduces the amount of melatonin your brain produces at night. This light effect is even more potent for children than adults, so make sure your kids turn off their devices at least a half hour before bedtime.
  4. Feng shui masters consider having electronics in the bedroom to be inauspicious. They are wise. When you turn out the lights to sleep, there should be NO ambient light. If you have electronics in your bedroom, unplug each device that has an indicator light. Alternatively, you can shield each light source with a piece of countertop decor. Understand that if you can see any light with your eyes open, your pineal gland will more than likely see the light even when your eyes are closed.
  5. If you are used to falling asleep in front of the TV, try to change your habit. It is best to read before bed (not from a tablet). If you need some ambient sound to relax, play music or listen to something previously downloaded to your device. If you feel you absolutely must have the TV on to fall asleep,  put the TV on a timer so it will shut off after you typically fall asleep.
  6. Electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) trick the pineal gland into thinking that there is ambient light. EMF exposure during sleep will therefore cause your brain to produce less melatonin. If you use your cell phone as an alarm, put it in airplane mode to ensure it doesn’t ping you with EMF periodically while you are sleeping. And importantly, please don’t place a cordless phone or a wifi router anywhere near your bedroom. If you must, because of the design of your living space, either unplug the units or place them on a timer so that they turn off when you go to sleep and click back on when you are scheduled to wake up.

Waking up!

Ideally, we would be able to wait for the sunrise to wake up. But, since many of us have to work in the early morning, some methods of waking up are less stressful than others — and can offer a subtle, enjoyable way to address a melatonin deficiency.

Like many people, I’ve gone through an evolution of alarm clocks starting with a freestanding windup clock with bells on top. From there, I moved to a plug-in variety with hands and a buzzer and then, a digital clock radio, which had been my preferred method for awakening until recently. A few months ago, I purchased a daylighting alarm clock. I am in awe over this technology. 30 minutes prior to my scheduled wake up time, the clock begins to glow a reddish hue, which slowly brightens to a white light. It is relaxing, pleasing and so completely natural. At the designated wake up time, the clock will produce some type of sound, either an ambient noise such as crashing waves, or it will play radio.

The way this light works is very clever. Even though I sleep with my eyes close, light from the clock hits my eye lids and causes a faint illumination, telling my pineal gland that there is light in the room. In response, the pineal gland stops producing melatonin. Different wavelengths of light will have a stronger suppression on melatonin secretion than others. Interestingly, redder hues have less of an effect on melatonin suppression than blue frequencies. So, by simulating a sunrise, the clock is telling the pineal gland to SLOWLY stop producing melatonin. This gradual awakening feels so natural and is completely stress free! I highly recommend trying one.

Take care of yourself this winter and always!
Give some consideration to your sleep habits. Maybe you can do a little reorganization in the bedroom to enhance your melatonin production. Now, in the midst of winter, is a perfect time to start.

See also: Can Apple Cider Vinegar Reverse Cholesterol Plaque Build-Up?

3 Toxins the EPA Should Ban but Hasn’t… Yet

I am very concerned about 3 chemicals many of us have in our homes that have been proven to be extremely toxic. Since Scott Pruitt and the EPA recently placed a “hold” on banning these chemicals, we must be cautious and extra vigilant to protect ourselves and our loved ones from these poisons.

A Little Background

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was created in 1976 in an attempt to clean up our environment and improve the health of the US population. The Act gave the EPA the authority to monitor and restrict the use of chemicals deemed to be environmental hazards. The most notorious toxins removed included asbestos, lead-based paint, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Since the 1970s, tens of thousands of new chemicals have been developed by industry, placed in everything from paint formulas and food additives to personal care products. The original TSCA excluded chemicals used in food, drugs, cosmetics and pesticides! As a result, the health effects associated with long term use of these chemicals has not been determined. Meanwhile, the US population, as a whole, has been getting sicker each year.

In 2016, the TSCA was amended by congress. The updated law calls for the health risk assessment of 10 new chemicals a year. Many of these compounds are found in common products we all use in our homes.  One would think that this kind of scrutiny would have been performed prior to their initial approval, but it wasn’t.

A year ago, on November 29, 2016, the EPA named the 1st 10 chemicals up for review. From the first test group, 3 chemicals discovered to be particularly toxic were named. But, they are not going to be phased out any time soon. Yes, these chemicals are known to be toxic and some cause cancer, but because the current administration doesn’t want to put any more regulations on business, Scott Pruitt and the EPA have delayed the ban of these 3 nasty chemicals…indefinitely!

What are these 3 toxins?

Methylene Chloride 

(dichloromethane)

This organic solvent is added to paint strippers, paint thinners and other paint removal products. metal cleaning and degreasing products. It is volatile organic compound (VOC) and has a sweetish odor. Be cautious of inhalation and skin exposure.

Acute reactions from methylene chloride exposure include confusion, dizziness, headaches, optic neuropathy and inflammation of the liver. There have even been several deaths attributed to inhalation. Long term, exposure to this chemical has been associated with cancer of the lungs, liver and pancreas in laboratory animals. This chemical has also been shown to cross the placenta!

N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) 

This organic compound is rapidly absorbed by skin, but unlike the other two chemicals in this list, this fluid is nonvolatile at room temperature. Paint and coating removal products and many other household products may contain this chemical, including cosmetics. Even oral and transdermal medications are sometimes prepared using this chemical to assist in drug absorption.

This chemical easily crosses the placenta and exposure to this drug during pregnancy can cause terrible birth defects .

Trichloroethylene (TCE) 

This VOC is a colorless liquid used in adhesives, paint removers, typewriter correction fluids and spot removers, among other products. This chemical is commonly used by the dry cleaning industry and has even been used as an inhalation anesthetic for short surgical procedures.

TCE has been determined to be carcinogenic to humans by all routes of exposure. It causes kidney cancer and there is evidence that it may also cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma and liver cancer. This chemical is also known to cause birth defects and developmental disorders.

So what can you do?

Follow these general precautions at home when using products such as a paint remover, adhesives, or any other products that emit VOCs.

1.Protect your skin and wear appropriate gloves. 

Latex rubber gloves used for dishwashing, medical gloves and food handling gloves are not adequate to protect yourself from these chemicals. Potent solvents can quickly dissolve through the material most gloves are made of and will subsequently absorb into your skin. A twinge in the nose, a strange sensation in the back of the throat, and/or irritation of the eyes will alert you that you have absorbed chemicals through your skin. Invest in a pair of laminated polyethylene/EVOH, butyl rubber or better yet, butyl/viton gloves to protect yourself from the most dangerous of these chemicals and always use them during potential exposure. Buy your gloves in advance and store them in the garage.

2. Maintain adequate cross ventilation or better yet, work outside when applying products containing VOCs. 

Many people don’t have a trustworthy sense of smell. Understand that you can still get sick from these products, even if you can’t smell them! Also realize that opening a few windows is not enough to keep the inside air from becoming toxic. If you use products containing these chemicals indoors for any prolonged period of time, run large fans in the room in addition to opening several windows. If this is not achievable, invest in a respirator with an assigned protection factor of 10 to reduce your toxin exposure. A NIOSH-certified air purifying elastomeric half mask respirator equipped with N100, R100 or P100 filters will minimize your inhalation exposure.

Check out my blog: A Breath of Fresh Air  and read a frightening personal account of the health effects I experienced from inhaling household paint fumes.

3. Keep all product containers containing VOCs in your garage or in an outdoor shed!

4. Don’t take home dry cleaned clothes that have an odor or are still damp as they may still be off-gassing TCE.

5. Pregnant women should stay away from all paint products! In addition, be critical of any cosmetics you apply to larger surface areas of your body. Investigate your chosen cremes and moisturizers and make sure they don’t contain NMP. 

Although it is certainly disappointing that the EPA has decided not to protect US citizens and the environment as a whole from these 3 industrial toxins, we must all realize that these chemicals represent the tip of an enormous iceberg. We are surrounded by thousands of hazardous chemicals in our daily lives. As a consumer and homeowner, it is important to do your homework and protect yourself as best you can from exposure.

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