Glossary - Environmental Medicine
air pollution - the presence of noxious substances in the air that we breathe.
allergen - the substance that triggers an allergic reaction.
allergy - an acquired, abnormal immune response to a substance that can cause a broad range of inflammatory reactions.
asthma - a chronic, inflammatory lung disease characterized by recurrent breathing problems usually triggered by allergens. (Infection, exercise, cold air, and other factors may also be allergic triggers.)
cancer - abnormal cells that divide without control, which can invade nearby tissues or spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.
carbon monoxide (CO) - a colorless, odorless gas which can be created whenever a fuel (such as wood, gasoline, coal, natural gas, or kerosene) is burning.
dermatitis - an inflammation of the skin - characterized by redness and itching.
electric and magnetic fields - refers to the electric and magnetic fields which surround both big power lines that distribute power and the smaller but closer electric lines in homes and appliances.
environmental medicine - the healthcare specialty concerned with human illnesses or dysfunctions that result from environmental factors.
epidemiology - the study of the spread, control, and prevention of disease in a group of persons.
goiter - an overgrown thyroid gland.
Gulf War syndrome - A widely used term referring to unexplained illnesses occurring in Gulf War veterans.
lead poisoning - an abnormal condition often caused by breathing or swallowing substances that contain lead.
mercury poisoning - an abnormal condition caused by breathing or swallowing a mercury substance.
mold - a microscopic fungus that grows and lives on plant or animal matter or on non-organic objects. Most molds are made up of filaments and reproduce through the production of spores, which spread by air, water, or insects.
multiple chemical sensitivity - a diagnostic label for people who suffer multi-system illnesses as a result of contact with, or proximity to, a variety of airborne agents and other substances.
pigmentosa - a rare, inherited skin disease making the skin very sensitive to ultraviolet light.
pneumoconiosis - a lung disease caused by the long-term breathing (ingestion) of dust.
radon - a colorless naturally occurring radioactive, inert gas formed by radioactive decay of radium atoms in soil or rocks.