Increasingly, researchers are noticing the impact that environmental toxins can have on human health. This has fueled the popularity of natural detox products and heavy metal cleanses. Recently, administrators from The University of Alabama announced that they have created a Program in Environmental and Translational Medicine, which will be dedicated to coming up with approaches for dealing with health issues tied to environmental origins.
"The environment can have a profound effect on human health," said Veena Antony, M.D., director of the new program. "Some environmental issues arise from pollution or man-made toxins, but others are natural, from bacteria present in the air, water or soil, for example. This program will study and treat the effects on human health from any environmental exposures."
The program has three main facets. The first involves providing care to patients who have conditions that may have been caused by exposure to environmental toxins. The second part of the program will focus on educating the public on the potential dangers of pollutants. The last component will encompass searching for the causes of toxins and ways to limit public exposure.
Program directors hope to bring together physicians, public health professionals, engineers, chemists and biologists from across the university's campus to collaborate on research and community outreach.
Professor Victor Thannickal, M.D.said that breathing problems are rampant in Birmingham, where the University of Alabama is located. This new program will investigate if pollution is associated with these problems, and work to improve the air quality.
One of the first projects the new program will work on will be a tool similar to a breathalyzer. Individuals will be able to blow into the device, and researchers will be able to analyze their breath for markers of air pollution.