Is This Your Child's World?: How You Can Fix the Schools and Homes That Are Making Your Children Sick


Sensitivities to everything from foods to furnaces and pesticides to paints are behind many children's unexplained illnesses and behavioral and emotional problems, including learning difficulties. Now, Dr. Doris Rapp, a leading specialist in environmental medicine, offers the first comprehensive source book on environmental illnesses - and the common, often unsuspected toxic substance and chemicals found in America's schools and homes.

"...suggests that unexplained behaviorial and emotional problems ...

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Sensitivities to everything from foods to furnaces and pesticides to paints are behind many children's unexplained illnesses and behavioral and emotional problems, including learning difficulties. Now, Dr. Doris Rapp, a leading specialist in environmental medicine, offers the first comprehensive source book on environmental illnesses - and the common, often unsuspected toxic substance and chemicals found in America's schools and homes.

"...suggests that unexplained behaviorial and emotional problems in children and learning difficulties may be linked to chemical sensitivies...includes case studies, remedies, and checklists."

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Rapp, a board-certified pediatrician with additional certifications in pediatric allergy and environmental medicine, has written this book to help parents and teachers recognize environmental illnesses and to outline steps for action in combating them. The first section describes environmentally caused illnesses and why they may be occurring. The other four sections concern sick schools and outline ways to deal with these problems. Examples of illnesses and possible treatments are included throughout the book. Two of the sections have an introductory overview, which would have benefited the other sections. The book is extensively footnoted, and there are several sections at the end-additional reading, organizations, suppliers, and so on-that readers will find helpful. It is unclear, however, whether these are appendixes. Rapp includes references to and information from another of her books, Is This Your Child? Discovering and Treating Unrecognized Allergies (Morrow, 1991). Recommended for large consumer health collections.-Mary J. Jarvis, Methodist Hosp. Medical Lib., Lubbock, Tex.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553378672
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/4/1997
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 656
  • Product dimensions: 6.78 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 1.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Doris J. Rapp, M.D., F.A.A.A., F.A.A.P., is a board-certified environmental medical specialist and pediatric allergist, and a New York Times bestselling author who has appeared on Oprah and many other nationally televised talk shows.  She is clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the State University of New York at Buffalo.  She is the founder of the Practical Allergy Foundation in Buffalo and is a past president of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine.
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Read an Excerpt

What You'll Learn In This Book

This book will increase your awareness by explaining:

How to anticipate which children and adults may be most prone to develop an environmental illness.

How to recognize that someone may be ill by noticing changes in how they look, act, behave, write, draw, and learn.

How to recognize whether an illness is related to inside or outside environmental factors, and how to determine which complaints may be partially or entirely due to some other health or behavioral problem.

How to pinpoint the most likely school- or home-related causes of learning, behavior, or health problems.

How to decide who should take the initiative to find appropriate solutions.

How to prioritize your options, so you know what should be done first, and when and why.

How to find physicians who have special expertise in environmental illness.

How to find qualified scientific investigational teams to evaluate potentially unsafe buildings.

How to locate information and resources to resolve the problems of sick buildings.

How to encourage school administrators, legislators, and builders to become more aware of environmental illness and to implement practical, cost-effective changes.

How to use these same guidelines to improve your home and work environment.

How to find lawyers who have the interest and experience to help those with environmental illnesses.

Is Your School Environmentally Sick?

Every single day students and teachers are exposed to environmentally unsafe schools and homes that can compromise their overall health and mental capabilities.Throughout the United States the problem has become so serious--sometimes even devastating--that our abundance of sophisticated modern drugs can no longer relieve their symptoms. Special-education teachers are unable to effectively cope with the soaring number of children diagnosed with hyperactivity or other behavior and learning difficulties in school.

As you read this book, you'll find much of the problem lies in America's school buildings. Many schools built in the 1970s were designed to last only twenty to thirty years. No wonder a February 1995 U.S. government report admitted that approximately 25,000 or one-third of all schools (which educate about 14 million children) now need extensive repair and/or replacement. These figures reflect only the significant problems related to lead, asbestos, radon, underground storage tanks, plumbing, sewage, termites, ventilation, and structural inadequacies. They do not even consider the additional, and at times, more significant role of dust, molds, chemicals, foods, and germs.

The Dilemma Of Children And Teachers

More and more children and teachers feel unwell day after day at school and do not understand why. Nor do they understand why they feel better within a few hours of arriving home. The children are confused and upset; the teachers are bewildered because children learn very well and behave appropriately one day but not the next. Is this due to an emotional problem or could it be related to how they teach?

Parents are equally perplexed because their children seem unable to remember things as well as they once did, or to learn at a level comparable to their natural ability. At certain times or in specific rooms, these youngsters cannot think clearly or recall things they know. Sometimes these changes are apparent only at home and not at school.

In addition, there are the inexplicable mood and behavior changes that students (and teachers) may experience. Why do they suddenly become upset or angry, or cry more easily than usual, but only when they are either at school or at home? Why do their actions become progressively more inappropriate from Monday to Friday afternoon but improve by Sunday night? When this happens to adults, they're embarrassed and worry that someone might notice; they repeatedly ask themselves, what could possibly be wrong?

How Do Others React?

When children and adults experience perplexing illnesses due to allergies or toxic reactions, they suffer not only from the environmental contact but also from psychological stress. Too often, they are not believed when they tell others how they feel, and they do not know where to turn for help. Too often, responsible, loving parents wonder what they have done wrong, while their equally perplexed children are often frightened and justifiably discouraged because they believe they are "bad." To make matters worse, no one seems able to explain what is going on. When parents finally find treatment that sets their child's health and life back on course, all too often the family's insurance company refuses to pay for it.

Sometimes a medical evaluation can end by instilling a feeling of personal inadequacy or failure in a child, or even worse, with an accusation of malingering. Some children or adults are told simply that "it is all in your head" or that they must "learn to live with it."

However, as you'll learn in this book, our environment can trigger serious physical, neurological, and psychological problems. Environmental illness can be every bit as real as that caused by germs. The symptoms of allergic and chemically induced sicknesses extend far beyond those typical of asthma, hay fever, intestinal, and skin problems. Increased fatigue, moodiness, depression, irritability, hyperactivity, aggression, and an inability to focus and remember can all be part of the big, perplexing picture.

The frustrating and often debilitating diseases caused by exposures to chemicals and natural allergens--such as dust, molds, and pollen--are not confined to schools. Our other surroundings, including homes, workplaces, and even the outdoors, can be equally problematic. No place, however, is more critically important to the continued vitality of our society than our schools, which are largely responsible for the competence and welfare of coming generations.

The Challenge

Environmental illnesses are taking a toll upon our children day by day. Whether slowly or quickly, they can progressively harm any part of the human body--doing damage that can last for years or even a lifetime. Our youngsters are expected to learn not only in very old school buildings but newer well-insulated, heat-efficient, highly chemicalized buildings with windows that allow the entrance of light but not air.

So our current challenge is much more than increased dust and molds; these factors can be important, but they have been around for a long time. The major new kid on the block is the seventy thousand chemicals that presently permeate what we eat, breathe, touch, and smell. We can no longer wait for our government to protect us. We have to make the connection between cause and effect so we can create a personal pocket of protection for our children, families, and friends, to help ensure America's future.

The Answer

As parents, educators, and physicians, we can tip the scales in favor of our children's health. How? We can help them by avoiding unnecessary exposures to chemicals, dust, molds, pollen, and known problem or pesticide-containing foods. No, we don't have to live in a glass house atop a windy mountain--but we should clean with safer products and improve our personal environment as much as possible. This book provides the insight you will need to cope with schools that are not up to par environmentally. The same recommendations are also applicable in the home (an environment that is infinitely easier to control). For the vast majority of children, teachers, and families, such changes do not need to be extensive or expensive.

In terms of diagnosing environmental illness, newer specific provocation/neutralization techniques can not only pinpoint the causes but provide fast and effective relief of the symptoms. Still other faster and better ways to deal with these problems are promised, but they need much more critical evaluation before they can be seriously discussed. For now, the ultimate key to better health is prevention. To accomplish it, everyone needs to develop an increased awareness of what can cause ill health, inappropriate behavior, and an inability to learn.
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Table of Contents

Preface: Is Your School Environmentally Sick?
1 Which Students and Teachers Are Affected? 5
2 Typical Symptoms of Environmental Illness 19
3 Fast, Easy, Inexpensive Ways to Find Answers 33
4 Changes in Appearance 67
5 Handwriting and Drawing Changes 79
6 Air-Quality Problems 127
7 Indoor and Outdoor Chemicals 169
8 Food and Water 203
9 Lead, Asbestos, and Other Factors 225
10 Pesticides and Carpet Chemicals 239
11 Lessons Learned from Sick Schools 277
12 Let's Learn from Canada 299
13 Diagnostic Tests 319
14 Tests for Special Problems 371
15 Treatments for Environmental Illness 397
16 When You Need Legal Help Because No One Is Listening 447
17 Insurance Considerations 467
18 The Possibility of Chronic Illness 493
19 Fast, Easy, Practical Tips for Parents, Teachers, and School Administrators 511
Afterword: What is a Utopian School? 523
Appendix 525
For Further Reading 543
Resources 555
Index 605
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