Environmental diseases are not unexplained mysteries

More attention needed to the disease factor in indoor pollutants

The awareness of the importance of uncontaminated food and pollution-free products in everyday life is growing worldwide. People are striving for a healthy and unpolluted living environment. Especially noteworthy are efforts that have been observed recently in Norway. In this Scandinavian country, efforts are prioritized to protect children, particularly against pollutants and allergens. One of the most active pioneers is Kjell Aas, a retired professor who supports the Norwegian Asthma and Allergy Association, with his profound knowledge. This scientist is anxious to clear ignorance about environmental and pollution-related diseases. He clarifies the facts to the authorities and population in ways which are understandable.

Environmental diseases are not mysteries, but scientifically explainable

For many people it is still difficult to understand that polluted air can also cause health problems or symptoms beyond just the respiratory tract. Research has delivered to us today only fragmentary explanations, but there are some entirely understandable explanations and solid scientific evidence of things not delivered to us, which Kjell Aas tries to make as general knowledge for the public.

The scientist Kjell Aas said, “Medical science has not yet managed to explore all the biochemical mechanisms behind the disease. The same goes for the so-called environmental diseases, such as hyperactivity, migraines, and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). To think that these environmental illnesses are something mysterious or inexplicable, or even that they are psychologically conditioned is just incorrect. This can be explained by one or more biochemical reactions. Both the physical and mental functions and activities are regulated by more or less complex chemical processes. The reactions are dependent on the dose and individual tolerance levels.”

Individual biochemistry sets the pace

“From a scientific aspect,” says Kjell Aas, “one must internalize that our internal biochemistry relies on the smooth functioning of a variety of cells with specific receptors and signal systems operating, and upon thousands of enzymes and co-enzymes. These biochemical processes can lead inhibitory and stimulatory mechanisms and integrated “amplifier systems” to gain significant effects.”

Kjell Aas says that the following is important for the public to realize, “Every person is an individual with his/her own individual biochemistry. A few milligrams of cocaine can change the personality and emotional life of an individual,” says the scientist, and continues, “or imagine alcohol having the same affect on the population, but as everyone knows, the tolerance threshold is different for each unique individual.”

The air we breathe daily

The scientist points out in his illustrative design, that adults consume 12 to 15 kg of air per day, and those gaseous chemicals are in the air we breathe, in a more or less high concentrations. Some of these gases combine with others, making them more harmful. These include ozone and other gases that lead to oxidation processes.

In addition, we take in particles in the air we breathe each day without ceasing. We breathe millions of fine particulate matter every hour of every day. These include chemical substances that are associated with the particulate matter which are in a position to pass as easily as breathing gases, and to move fully into blood, lymph and tissue fluid, the researcher points out.

Children are not little adults

Kjell Aas thinks special attention should focus on improving the current situation for children. He justifies this by saying that children can tolerate very little and will get sick easily from chemicals. “We have a variety of cells in our body,” the scientist explained, “all based on chemicals. The chemicals must agree to allow the cells to function properly and then the body will not get sick. ”

The Norwegian elaborated his statement and says, “If an unwanted chemical substances are inhaled, then the chemical balance is upset and so are the cells, and thus we get sick. The cells are blocked by these unwanted chemicals and cannot send out important chemical messengers responsible for our health.”

“Who exactly needs to understand these statements?” Kjell Aas wonders. It is important for all of us to realize the significant consequences for children, in particular, whose bodies are still under construction and development. This enlightenment is exactly what Kjell Aas hopes to awaken in all of us in hopes that we all begin to act accordingly. The Norwegians therefore ask in conclusion that we should internalize the following important fact:

“The air in a room which is acceptable for children, it is also acceptable for adults, but indoor air which is not acceptable for adults, can already make children ill.”


Silvia K. Müller, CSN – Chemical Sensitivity Network, Alena Jula, Just Nature, July 1, 2011

Translation: Christi Howarth

Related CSN Articles:

Participatory Action: Help Your Local Santa Claus and the Sick Children in Your Area

A Real Santa Claus Does Not Wear Perfume

Santa has an ear for the needs of all children, including children with allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivity (MCS). Santas are always open to hear everything a child desires, meaning their secrets, worries and concerns. For many children this seasonal private talk with Santa is an important event when they can privately disclose what is really on their mind.

So this year we wish that all children, including those who suffer from allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivity (MCS), will have the opportunity to whisper something special into Santa’s ear. We have designed an action card for printing. (The best way to print the cards out is on more solid paper or light cardboard).

And because Santa Claus is known for really loving ALL children, with some help, we can make sure every Santa Claus may share the Christmas warmth with every child. Hand the Santa a Christmas card, asking them to give up after-shave, cologne, fabric softener, strong smelling deodorant, and other fragrances this season. Whisper in the ear of the Santa Claus when presentating the card, that this small favor of being fragrance free will make all children’s hearts and eyes glow with gratitude.


The real Santa Claus does not wear perfume, because he loves all children. Even those with asthma, allergies, or chemical sensitivity.


Spanish Action Card >> El verdadero Papá Noel no usa Colonia

German Action Card >> Der echte Weihnachtsmann trägt kein Parfüm

Facts about Perfume, Scented Products:

New blood test for newborns to detect allergy risk

A simple blood test can now predict whether newborn babies are at high risk of developing allergies as they grow older, thanks to research involving the University of Adelaide.

Professor Tony Ferrante, an immunologist from SA Pathology and the Children’s Research Centre at the University of Adelaide, says the new marker may be the most significant breakthrough in allergy testing for some decades.

“A protein in the immune cells of newborns appears to hold the answer as to whether a baby will either be protected, or susceptible to the development of allergies later on,” Professor Ferrante says.

Amounts of the cell signalling protein, called protein kinase C zeta, are much lower in children at risk of allergies.

Professor Ferrante says the blood test is far more effective than previous indicators, such as a family’s clinical history, or measuring the allergy-inducing antibody IgE.

In collaboration with Professor Susan Prescott from the University of Western Australia and Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Professor Ferrante’s research team has refined the new marker for allergy risk, originally discovered in 2007, but now modified to a simple and manageable blood test at birth.

The researchers are also looking at whether fish oil supplements given to both pregnant women and those who have just given birth can reduce the risks of the children developing allergies.

“There is evidence that the levels of this important protein increase with fish oil supplementation to protect against allergy development,” Professor Ferrante says.

Australia has one of the highest allergy rates in the world, with 40% of children now suffering from allergic diseases, including food allergies, eczema, asthma and hay fever. These conditions frequently persist into adulthood, placing a heavy burden on the healthcare system.

Literature: The University of Adelaide, New blood test for newborns to detect allergy risk, 21 May 2010

UCLA – Improved air quality linked to fewer pediatric ear infections

A new study by researchers at UCLA and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston suggests that improvements in air quality over the past decade have resulted in fewer cases of ear infections in children.

Ear infections are one of the most common illnesses among children, with annual direct and indirect costs of $3 billion to $5 billion in the United States.

“We believe these findings, which demonstrate a direct correlation between air quality and ear infections, have both medical and political significance,” said study co-author Dr. Nina Shapiro, director of pediatric otolaryngology at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA and an associate professor of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “The results validate the benefits of the revised Clean Air Act of 1990, which gave the Environmental Protection Agency more authority to implement and enforce regulations reducing air-pollutant emissions. It also shows that the improvements may have direct benefit on health-quality measures.”

The research appears in the February issue of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, the official peer-reviewed publication of the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Foundation.

The researchers reviewed National Health Interview Survey data for 120,060 children between the years of 1997 and 2006 and measured the number of instances of three disease conditions for each year — frequent ear infections (three or more within a year), respiratory allergy and seizure activity, which is not influenced by air quality but was included as a control condition.

These numbers were then cross-referenced with the EPA’s air-quality data on pollutants, including carbon monoxide, nitrous dioxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, for the same time period. The study authors discovered that as air quality steadily improved, the number of cases of frequent ear infections significantly decreased.

The results also showed that there was not an association between improved air quality and improved rates of pediatric respiratory allergy, possibly due to the fact that allergens are not pollutants.

Reference: UCLA, Amy Albin,  Improved air quality linked to fewer pediatric ear infections, January 27, 2010

Common plastics chemicals linked to ADHD symptoms



Are phthalates really safe for children? 

Phthalates are important components of many consumer products, including toys, cleaning materials, plastics, and personal care items. Studies to date on phthalates have been inconsistent, with some linking exposure to these chemicals to hormone disruptions, birth defects, asthma, and reproductive problems, while others have found no significant association between exposure and adverse effects. 

A new report by Korean scientists, published by Elsevier in the November 15th issue of Biological Psychiatry, adds to the potentially alarming findings about phthalates. They measured urine phthalate concentrations and evaluated symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) using teacher-reported symptoms and computerized tests that measured attention and impulsivity. 

They found a significant positive association between phthalate exposure and ADHD, meaning that the higher the concentration of phthalate metabolites in the urine, the worse the ADHD symptoms and/or test scores. 

Senior author Yun-Chul Hong, MD, PhD, explained that “these data represent the first documented association between phthalate exposure and ADHD symptoms in school-aged children.” John Krystal, MD, the Editor of Biological Psychiatry, also commented: “This emerging link between phthalates and symptoms of ADHD raises the concern that accidental environmental exposure to phthalates may be contributing to behavioral and cognitive problems in children. This concern calls for more definitive research.” 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the Summary of their 2005 Third National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, state that “very limited scientific information is available on potential human health effects of phthalates at levels” found in the U.S. population. Although this study was performed in a Korean population, their levels of exposure are likely comparable to a U.S. population.

The current findings do not prove that phthalate exposure caused ADHD symptoms. However, these initial findings provide a rationale for further research on this association. 

Reference: Elsevier, Common plastics chemicals linked to ADHD symptoms, November 19, 2009