Santa Barbara Wellness Directory
How Asthma, Allergies &Toxins are Related

by Amber Alcoser


• A chronic respiratory disease which has 5 main signs: coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and mucus production. The lungs and airway swell and produce the mucus to protect itself and rid what is irritating it.
• There are many causes for an asthma attack but the majorities are caused by an irritant or substance entering the lungs and irritating the airways. These irritants or commonly known as triggers can be:

o pollen
o exercise
o dust mites
o cigarette smoke
o fumes
o allergens

This disease is not to be taken lightly. A few shocking statistics:

o There are 5 million children and 20 million people in the US affected by asthma.
o Asthma is the third leading cause of childhood hospitalization and caused a total of 5,000 deaths in the US last year.
o Most children are not taking their medications to help prevent the disease.

• Make sure you have been to the doctor and started your plan. Work with the doctor and understand the medications and how to take them. Ask questions and learn what can be triggers. Then eliminate the triggers and keep them away.


• An allergy is when the body's immune response reacts in a way which is abnormal. The body acts out as a result of coming in contact with irritating particles. The substance is called the allergen. There are many know allergens. Examples include pollen, dust, mold spores, animal dander, and chemicals.
• The allergen triggers the immune system to produce antibodies and thereby cause an allergic reaction. Sometime the reaction can also be called "hypersensitivity reaction". Allergies can be triggered by eating, touching, or breathing in an allergen. Allergies are often associated with asthma, especially in children. A very common symptom of allergies is eczema or a skin disorder causing it to be red, itchy and scaly.
• 50 million Americans have allergies. Since the 1980s allergy occurrences have been on the rise and now affect 1 out of 3 children.
• Talk to your doctor and keep a journal of activities and food intake. If possible for a better quality of life, eliminate the allergens.

Not all children who have allergies develop asthma. Chances for asthma in children are greater when a parent has asthma because it is a genetic disease. However just because one is prone to develop asthma does not mean they will have it. More recent studies are showing that the causes and symptoms for asthma are on the rise and it is pointing to environmental causes. The TOP 3 childhood health concerns for our government in 2007 are asthma, neurological disorders, and childhood cancers.

Toxins - How do they Relate?

According to the EPA- Children may be more vulnerable to environmental exposures than adults because:
• Their bodily systems are still developing
• They eat more, drink more, and breathe more in proportion to their body size
• Their behavior can expose them more to chemicals and organisms
• Environment is not just outdoors; it is indoors as well. We spend more time indoors than outdoors and it is proven that our indoor air contains 2-5 times (sometimes 17 times) more pollution than outside. Reason being, our homes are sealed and we use many products which release into the air and then are recycled throughout the home; not released
So, what’s a toxin? Defined- it is any poisonous substance that can cause illness, injury, or death.

A history of common household toxins:
• Chlorine gas was created during WWII and in liquid form was found to be a great whitener! Formaldehyde, an embalming agent was used in the early 1900’s was found to be a great preserver and can be found today in many of our personal products and cleaners.
• Women began working and did not have time to spend all day washing clothes or scrubbing toilets. So industries needed to come up with products which could do the job in a faster manner.
• It takes 10 years for a chemical to be studied and the affects known. The FDA lacks the power to make manufacturers test and prove that they provide safe products for our homes. They simply have to put a warning label on the back saying do not drink, inhale or touch. A recent testimony to how the FDA does not have the ability to adequately test industries: the recall of the drugs VIOXX and Celebrex. Recent studies and research are showing that all these chemicals and toxins are affecting our health, children, and planet. The studies are pointing to one big culprit: Industry

So, what does a toxin do exactly?

• Most household toxins cause irritation to skin, lungs and eyes. Our skin is like a sponge, it absorbs what is put on it and our lungs breathe in what we use.
• Some toxins can cause endocrine disruption. In other words the chemicals and hormones in the body can be interrupted by these toxins in the body. The chemicals can be pesticides, fertilizers and detergents. Once again -It is unknown how many endocrine disruptors are currently in use because most industrial chemicals have not been tested for their ability to interfere with the endocrine system.
• Chemicals can be allergens. They can be an asthma or allergy trigger. The fumes or substance releases ‘particles’ into the air; fumes. This is how you smell something. A child or person with limited lung capacity breaths it in and it can cause them difficulty.
• Even more studies are revealing that some chemicals such as formaldehyde are proven to be cancer causing.

What can be done?
• Be an informed consumer. An average person puts 9 personal products with 126 unique chemicals on their skin daily.
• Buy products which are responsible and safe. There are companies which support these findings and give consumers a better choice.
• Become an active citizen and help support organizations which are trying to get the FDA, EPA, and other government agencies to hold these companies responsible.

“Product safety is any company’s choice and any consumer’s guess.” -EWG


Contact Amber Alcoser at:


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