It may be subtle, but Americans are surrounded by chemicals just about every day, whether they are aware or not.
Cleaning supplies, gasoline fumes, even air fresheners all contain chemicals that can have long-term effects.
Now, those chemicals are being linked to doctor’s visits, courtesy of a new study by the University of Texas Health Science Center.
"Some of the symptoms people commonly report are headache, fatigue, difficultly with memory, concentration,” said Dr. Claudia Miller, who co-authored the study.
The study surveyed a small sample of patients who have chronic issues of various kinds.
"About 20 percent of the people who came into the clinic, just for routine medical care, have actually met the criteria for chemical intolerance,” said Miller.
Most patients, said Miller, are not even aware of the issue. Miller explained it is even new territory for many primary care physicians, who often do not consider chemicals as a diagnosis. The patients were tested with questionnaires which ask about exposure to chemicals like insecticide, hairspray, and paint.
"Often times in our modern society, these exposures are subtle, but they may be triggering these symptoms,” said Miller.
The study also found connections between chronic issues and those who deal with chemicals daily. The study focused on lower-income Americans, who -- in theory -- may have a greater chemical intolerance due to jobs that expose them to chemicals more often.
"With people who do things for a living, like painting, they’re exposed to solvents. They’re exposed to cleaning chemicals,” said Miller.
Miller suggested avoiding chemicals as much as you can, until you know how they affect you.
The study has been published in the Annals of Family Medicine.