Airborne Environmental Injuries and Human Health

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Abstract

The concept that the environment in which we live can have detrimental effects on our health has existed for centuries. Obvious examples of substances that can cause human diseases include infectious agents, poisons, chemicals and other noxious agents, drugs, and physical stimuli such as bright lights and loud sounds. Some less obvious agents can include allergens, nontangible agents such as colorless, odorless gases and aerosolized toxins. In recent decades, humans have developed various new materials and compounds. Additionally, we are now producing known compounds, and even naturally occurring substances, in vastly increased amounts. Many of these substances are generally believed to threaten the health of our environment. However, there is also a considerable amount of hype and exaggeration regarding some of these agents (e.g., mold) that is unsubstantiated. This article extensively reviews the data on a large number of airborne-related illnesses and attempted to place scientific reality in the context of clinical medicine.

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