Environmental Toxins and Air Pollutants
For the second year running we have poor air quality in the Issaquah area due to smoke and ash from wildfires near and far. Although I love the smell of a good campfire, the smoke from these fires can be toxic. These fires burn large areas where there are farms, homes and other dwellings that contain pressure treated lumber, plastics, electronics and pesticides. This destruction results in the release of toxic substances like dioxins, styrene, ammonia and hydrogen cyanide into the air along with wood ash. We know that these chemicals are contributing to many chronic diseases including increasing the risk of cancer. In fact, if you were to ingest just 1 tablespoon of pressure treated wood ash it would be fatal for an average adult. Clearly, caution and protection should be used when exposed to these substances. Many of our patients are proactive about disease prevention. It is no wonder they are reaching out asking what they should do to help protect themselves from these toxins in our environment. Here is a list of our top suggestions to protect yourself and those you love from environmental toxins and air pollution.
The outdoor air quality in the last couple of weeks have reached an "unhealthy" rating and have been compared to smoking 7-10 cigarettes per day. Thankfully, we do not have these conditions for prolonged periods of time. However, when we do it is important to limit our exposure to the particulates in the air. If you are spending time in the outdoors with unhealthy air quality a face mask with an N-95 rating will filter most particulates. It is important to limit your outdoor physical activity. Increasing sweating and body temperature while the outdoor air quality is at an unhealthy level can increase your absorption of these airborne chemicals through the skin by 400%. For updates on our current air quality the Air Now government website is a good resource.
We used to think of air filters as an important tool for improving indoor air quality for those with allergies. However, now we are becoming more aware that reducing fine particulates and toxins in the air is an important health strategy for all and can especially benefit those with systemic inflammation, anxiety, and cardiovascular disease as well as those of us exposed to air pollution. Something as simple as a HEPA filter has been shown to reduce systemic inflammation markers in the blood in a matter of days. One air filter that is popular among those Naturopaths that specialize in environmental medicine is the 160 R-2 air purifier unit by E.L. Foust. For the most immediate health impact start running an air filter daily in your bedroom, the room where most of us spend at least a third of our day.
Issaquah currently receives a majority of its drinking water from the Tolt and Cedar watershed. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) our tap water can have over 300 chemicals and pollutants including Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC)s from herbicides and pesticides, heavy metals and endocrine disrupting chemicals. Unfortunately, the contaminates in our air from the fires eventually settle into our soil and water adding to this toxic burden. As physicians, we often recommend drinking half your weight in ounces of water daily for optimal health (for example a 200lb man would drink 100oz of water daily). It is more important than ever to ensure you are drinking pure healthy water. There is a wide range of water filtration systems on the market at a variety of prices. Solid Block Carbon Filters are recognized by the EPA to be one of the best filtration systems that removes most of these unwanted chemicals while leaving healthy naturally occurring minerals in the water. The Berkley Filter system is one of the most well-known solid block carbon filters. For those looking for a complete drinking water purification system Radiant Life has a 14-stage purification system and is considered one of the best.
Many people do not realize that there a large amount of pesticide residues on conventionally grown produce. Organophosphate pesticide exposure may have long lasting effects on our health. It may have long term effects on children's brains and behavior as well as impacting our long-term fertility and increasing your cancer risk. Fortunately, the EWG releases a shopper's guide every year to inform the public of the most contaminated produce (The Dirty Dozen) and the produce with the least pesticide residue (Clean Fifteen). We recommend eating organic whenever possible but it is especially important to avoid the foods with the most pesticide residue.
Antioxidants that protect, heal and detoxify
The toxic chemicals and fine particulates in the air can cause oxidative damage to our delicate tissues, especially our lungs, and promote inflammation in our body. There are many studies that show general antioxidant vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium along with plant polyphenols such as green tea, resveratrol, curcumin, and berry pigments can help prevent DNA damage secondary to chemical exposures and air pollution. One of the most important antioxidants in the body is glutathione. Glutathione is concentrated in the liver and the lungs. Air pollution robs the lungs of glutathione and leads to an increase in asthma and COPD. Supplementing Glutathione regularly can help protect the lungs from oxidative damage and reduce these reactive airway symptoms.
When combined with clean air, pure water and organic foods, high quality nutritional supplements can help you optimize your health and take it to the next level. Consider adding the following supplements for protection against environmental pollution exposure:
- Clinical Antioxidant Nutrients by Integrative therapeutics: a mixture of 15 powerful antioxidants in one formula. Consider adding 1-3 capsules per day to boost your antioxidant intake.
- C + Biofizz by Designs for Health: is a concentrated vitamin C and bioflavonoid powder. 1-2 tsp provides 3-5 grams of vitamin C, the dose shown to reduce the damaging effects of air pollution.
- Fruit Anthocyanins by Natural Health: organic concentrated berry mix that is great for both kids and adults. It can easily be mixed in water, juice or hot cereal to be included as a daily part of your diet. This powerhouse berry concentrate provides the equivalent of 1 pint of berries in just 1 tsp of syrup.
- Tri-Fortify by Researched Nutritionals and S-Acetyl Glutathione by Xymogen. Glutathione is a large nutrient that can be difficult to absorb. This is why we carry both a liquid liposomal form of glutathione as well as the activated acetyl form.
- 6-day Detox by Xymogen: a comprehensive detoxification plan in a box including one of our nutritional protein shakes with specially formulated to support our bodies when exposed to environmental toxins and pollution.
NaturoMedica is an integrative health clinic that combines conventional healthcare with natural therapies. Whether you are experience coughing, wheezing or malaise from the current environmental conditions or you are concerned about the long-term health consequences from exposure to environmental pollutants, our physicians can help you develop an individualized treatment plan to address both issues in a comprehensive and holistic way.