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 population.
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 nonorganic 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.
Ozone - a highly reactive form of oxygen that shields us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays but is a harmful air pollutant at ground level and partially makes up urban smog.
Pneumoconiosis - a lung disease caused by the long-term breathing (ingestion) of dust.
Radon - a colorless, naturally occurring inert radioactive gas formed by radioactive decay of radium atoms in soil or rocks.
xeroderma pigmentosa - a rare inherited skin disease that makes the skin very sensitive to ultraviolet light.