Could Your Workplace Be Making You Sick?

Allergy, Liver | July 5, 2017 | Author: Naturopath

allergy, liver

Could Your Workplace Be Making You Sick?

Have you ever wondered whether your workplace is toxic? And no, I’m not referring to bullying, gossiping and other co-workers which may be impossible to get along with. I’m talking about exposure to chemicals that may be harmful to your health.

We all get exposed to chemicals in the foods we eat, the air we breathe and the environment we live in. They can be found in soap, perfume, make-up, cleaning products, pesticides, plastic and many other places. Unfortunately, if you also have a high level of exposure to chemicals at your workplace, it could have detrimental effects on your health. If your symptoms are intensified at your workplace and improve on vacation or on days off, it could be related to the environment in which you work.

High-risk workplaces

People who work in more high-risk work environments may be more aware of the toxins they are exposed to.

There may be an obvious chemical smell which is then inhaled or chemicals that are handled with or without protective equipment. Examples of such occupations involve the production or application of paints, solvents, resins, pesticides, cutting fluids and cleaning products.

Manufacturing plants that produce of rubber, plastics, textiles, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics emit high levels of hazardous compounds—significantly increasing your risk of work-related disease. Beautician’s who work with hair dyes, hair spray, perms and nail polish and removers may also be at risk. Other examples include people in the farming industry who deal with animal husbandry, fertilisers and chemicals, photocopier technicians and dry cleaners who work with machines that emit potentially harmful gasses.

Toxin exposure you may not be aware of

For those who work in an office environment you may feel like you are protected from toxins. However, exposure may be more than what you expect. Irritating pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide at harmful levels can occur due to malfunctioning or inefficient heating devices. Formaldehyde exposure is widespread and is found in resins in finishes, plywood, panelling, fibreboard and particleboard and in some backing and adhesives for carpet. Some copiers and printers, glues and adhesives, markers and photo solutions are some of the common office products that emit harmful volatile organic compounds (VOC). New installations, wall coverings, carpet, paint or construction can all heighten problems with these compounds.

Exposure to environmental allergens commonly occurs in building with poor ventilation—allowing these particles to become trapped inside. Air pollutants, mould and dust mites could all be present in buildings and contribute to hayfever, sneezing, itchy eyes, nasal congestion, asthma and skin reactions.

Reducing your exposure

workplace toxins painterShort of quitting your job here are some measures you can take to reduce your exposure to toxins:

  • Wear protective equipment such as a mask, gloves and protective clothing if required
  • Keep your work area free of clutter, dust regularly and consider using a HEPA-type air purifier
  • Consider using indoor plants to absorb some of the off-gassing from VOC and formaldehyde. Plants are a natural way to purify the air.
  • Spend your work breaks outdoors to get some fresh air.

It’s also important to reduce your toxin exposure at home to reduce a cumulative effect. Some suggestions include:

  • Use natural cleaning products such as vinegar, bi-carb soda and essentials oils
  • Ventilate the house to reduce the growth of mould and mildew
  • Buy organic food when possible to avoid pesticides
  • Vacuum regularly to reduce dust in the house
  • Opt for natural personal care products
  • Limit alcohol consumption and avoid smoking cigarettes and recreational drugs
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Looking after yourself by exercising, eating a well-balanced diet rich in nutrients and fibre, drinking enough water and getting enough sleep are all important for good health and to counteract toxin exposure.

Reducing your reaction to toxins

Allergic reactions contribute significantly to workplace-related illnesses—commonly triggered by dust, mould and chemicals.

workplace toxins allergic reactionsThere are specific nutrients that can help reduce your reaction to these triggers. Vitamin C, zinc, quercetin and herbs such as perilla and albizzia all have anti-allergy properties.

If you experience hayfever symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes and allergic skin reactions then the probiotic strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG and Lactobacillus paracasei may be of assistance.
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Reducing the effects of toxins

The body eliminates toxins in the body by relying on the kidneys, the liver and the bowels to work efficiently. It is important that the body eradicates toxins in an efficient manner, otherwise some toxins can be stored in the body where they then accumulate and cause disruption. The two main ways the liver detoxifies toxins is via two phases, referred to as phase 1 and phase 2 liver reactions.  If there is a high toxic load on the liver from exogenous chemicals found in food, drugs or environmental sources it will ultimately lead to its suboptimal performance.

Toxin-eliminating nutrients

St Mary’s thistle and its active constituent silymarin, can help support the liver in processing and eliminating toxins. It supports both phase 1 and phase 2 liver detoxification, acts as an antioxidant and prevents damage to the liver. St Mary’s thistle is well researched in its ability to reduce toxin-induced damage to the liver.
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workplace toxins brassica foodsBrassica family vegetables which include cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli and kale also induce both phases of liver detox. Aim to have these foods every day for a healthy liver.

Other nutrients which assist the liver include schizandra, turmeric, dandelion root, green tea, N-acteyl cysteine, resveratrol and even oranges.

To help support the kidneys, drink plenty of water and eat your greens. Herbs such as cleavers, coriander, spirulina and chlorella can aid in toxin removal via the kidneys.
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Even though we can’t completely escape the toxins that surround us, limiting our exposure and improving other aspects of our health can reduce their side-effects. To partake in a comprehensive body detoxification, consider partnering with a qualified healthcare practitioner such as a naturopath who will guide you through a safe and effective program.

References

https://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/

Montano D. Chemical and biological work-related risks across occupations in Europe: a review. J Occup Med Toxicol. 2014 Jul 24;9:28

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25071862

Paciência I, et al. A systemic review of evidence and implications of spatial and seasonal variations of volatile organic compounds (VOC) in indoor human environments. J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 2016;19(2):47-64

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27163962

Dotson GS, et al. Setting occupational exposure limits for chemicals allergens—understanding the challenges. J Occup Environ Hyg. 2015;12 Suppl 1:S82-98

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26583909

Hechtman L (2014). Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Australia

 

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