Environmental Medicine


Many people live each day with unexplained symptoms that dramatically impact their quality of life. Often these individuals have seen doctors only to have their concerns disregarded from the start, or have seen doctors and had multiple tests with no explanations found. These complicated symptom presentations may be the result of environmental toxin exposures.

Environmental medicine is a subspecialty medicine that focuses on the relationship between your health and your environment. It involves the study of environmental factors, such as chemicals, heavy metals, air pollution, and other potentially hazardous substances, and explores how contact impacts our health. Environmental medicine assesses the physical effects of exposures, determines ways to manage the effects of exposure and looks at how to prevent or limit future exposures.

In recent decades there has been an increased use of chemicals, plastics, pesticides and other harmful substances in our everyday lives. Many of us live in old homes with mold, or new builds with freshly installed carpets and paint that leech toxic fumes into the air. These exposures do not go unnoticed by our bodies. It has become clear that our exposure to high levels of toxins is resulting in negative health outcomes for many people.

With time, a buildup of toxins can impact all of the body systems, frequently targeting our neurologic, respiratory, and gastrointestinal systems. As a result, we can experience innumerable symptoms, including but not limited to headache, brain fog, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, shortness of breath, cough, sinus congestion, blurry vision, muscular weakness, chronic pain, and memory loss.

Common exposures include but aren’t limited to:

  • Mold
  • Pesticides
  • Persistent Organic Pollutants
  • Plastics
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Solvents
  • Heavy Metals
  • Combustion Related Compounds

Exposures can result from a variety of situations, such as:

  • Car Exhaust
  • Selfcare/Beauty Products
  • Cleaning Chemicals
  • Off gassing from new products such as carpeting and paint
  • Foods contaminated by pesticides, plastics, and heavy metals
  • Air Pollution
  • Smoke
  • Mold
  • Fragrances
  • And more!

Over time we end up with a total body burden of toxins that can cause systemic dysfunction and disease. Our bodies can handle a certain amount of stress (toxic exposure), however eventually we reach a point at which the burden becomes too great and symptoms result. The total body burden is the reason that sometimes one member of a family may not be impacted by mold in the basement while another family member experiences significant impact.

Unfortunately, many doctors do not take these types of toxic exposures into account when evaluating your health and wellness. Therefore, many conditions persist with little to no resolution, keeping patients in a perpetual state of imbalance and illness, often taking pills with harmful side effects in an effort to reduce their symptoms.

Who can Benefit from an Environmental Medicine Visit?

Anyone who believes they may have been exposed to harmful toxicants may benefit from an environmental medicine visit. Individuals who have known exposure, regardless of symptom presentation, and individuals seeking to establish a healthy environment to prevent potential toxicant related illness will also benefit. Furthermore, those individuals who work or live in high risk situations are likely to see benefit from a visit.

Examples of high risk situations include:

  • Welders and metal workers
  • HVAC workers
  • Airport or ground transport workers
  • Farm workers exposed to pesticides
  • Individuals living near a highway or airport
  • Individuals with a known mold exposure
  • Individuals experiencing unexplained symptoms unable to be diagnosed with prior testing and/or evaluation

Evaluation and Treatment Approach

In an environmental medicine appointment we explore your history, environment, and potential exposures that may be impacting your health. We then look into ways to eliminate/limit exposure to toxins and to expel from your body the toxins already accumulated.

Both prevention and treatment are key arms of environmental medicine. It is important to treat exposures that have occurred and may, due to lifestyle limitations, continue to occur. For example, those working in HVAC may enjoy their line of work and wish to continue, however they are often exposed to toxins in this work. Therefore, it is important to find ways to limit exposures to the greatest degree possible. When able, prevention of exposure is best, as this will prevent the health conditions that may result from exposure. However, we understand this is not always possible and will work with anyone interested in limiting exposures and detoxing their body.

Methods of Evaluation

There are a variety of ways to evaluate harmful environmental exposures, such as:

  • Exposure history and medical history: An extensive look into potential exposure history, as well as medical history is important in piecing together the story of what environmental factors may be influencing health.
  • Biomonitoring and laboratory testing: Measuring levels of harmful substances in the body, often through blood and/or urine labs, allows us to assess the presence of toxins and measure the impact of treatments as we work to eliminate those toxins from the body and environment.
  • Environmental evaluation and monitoring: Measuring levels of harmful substances in your air, water, etc.
  • Epidemiological studies: These are population based studies that look at the larger population and explore the relationship between exposures to environmental factors and health outcomes. These studies provide guidance as we work with individuals to provide effective care.

Schedule your environmental medicine consultation today and begin the journey to a clean healthy life!