Can Chemicals in My Workplace Cause AFib?

Each day, people all over America breathe in workplace chemicals that cause illness and even death. Unseen and unchecked, these chemicals travel through the body, wreaking havoc. Workers exposed to these chemicals suffer lung, nerve, brain, and heart diseases, and they often don’t even know why. Here’s the ugly truth. Daily exposure to workplace chemicals increases your risk of developing coronary heart disease and even an irregular heartbeat.

The average American spends over 1,700 hours at work each year. That’s a lot of time working with and breathing in chemicals if you are in a line of work that requires close contact. While most people know that chemicals aren’t great for your body, did you know that they can cause AFib? Research certainly backs up this assertion.

AFib and workplace chemicals

AFib causes ongoing palpitations and shortness of breath that can impact your quality of life. Though diet and lifestyle factors are typically the underlying cause for AFib, working with toxic chemicals can contribute to the onset or further worsening of an arrhythmia. 

A study published in the Journal of Arrhythmia looked at chemical exposure in three factories. Workers who regularly used solvents such as gases, metal welding fumes, and pesticides were monitored. Researchers found that working in the solvent industry increases the risk of developing AFib. Exposure to chemicals, especially solvent agents, can seriously hamper the cardiovascular system.

Researchers studied the following chemical solvents:

  • Toluene
  • Trichloroethane
  • Xylene
  • Heptane
  • Hexane
  • Ethyl ether trichloroethylene
  • Trichloro trifluoroethane

Working with these chemicals can weaken heart muscles and may even cause sudden death. Sadly, more than 50 percent of the study participants, between the ages of 34 to 38, developed AFib after working with solvents. As a result, many experienced complications and disabilities that go along with arrhythmia. 

Can pesticides cause Afib?

A study by the American Heart Association reports a link between exposure to pesticides and cardiovascular disease. Men enrolled in the study were 45 to 68 years of age. Researchers found that those regularly exposed to pesticides had a 45 percent higher risk of heart disease or stroke than those who were not exposed to pesticides at work. 

This study highlights the importance of using personal protective equipment when exposed to pesticides on the job. It also highlights documenting pesticide exposure in medical records. Pesticides have a long half-life, meaning they are more likely to build up over time. As a result, health hazards could occur years after exposure. 

This is especially alarming for the modern farming industry, as 75 percent of pesticides are used in agriculture. Farmers who work in areas treated with pesticides face significant exposure from direct spray, drift, and even neighboring fields. They’re also more likely to come in contact with residues from crops or soil, suggests a study published in the journal Toxics. 

These pesticides are not just harmful to the agricultural worker but are dangerous for the consumer as well, as they leach into produce. 

Formaldehyde in the workplace

The building you work in may have serious air quality problems. Carpets, cleaning products, foam insulation, and poor ventilation can cause many health problems. Even your pressed-wood office furniture and carpet may be a source of formaldehyde. Breathing in or working with formaldehyde could pose a serious heart risk.

High-risk workers might work with products made with formaldehyde, such as chipboard and foam insulation. Also, breathing in vapors from manufacturing plants or working in areas where formaldehyde is used can cause dangerous diseases such as cancer and heart disease. 

Formaldehyde is a powerful antiseptic, germicide, fungicide, and preservative. Its many industrial uses include strengthening fabrics, improving colorfastness on fabrics, and waterproofing. While its uses are certainly numerous, formaldehyde is a toxic chemical. One that we are exposed to every day without even knowing it. Prolonged exposure to high concentrations may cause serious inflammation and heart palpitations

Other cardiovascular conditions that increase your risk of AFib

Yes, chemical exposure in the workplace can cause AFib. However, there is usually an underlying condition that can be exacerbated by these chemicals and increase your risk of AFib, including:

  • Longstanding, uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Underlying heart disease, including valve problems and a history of heart attack
  • Heart surgery
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Family history
  • Sleep apnea
  • Other chronic conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, and hyperthyroidism

Chemical exposure is linked to many diseases. But when it comes to the heart, chemical exposure may also lead to other metabolic disorders, including type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and endocrine disorders — all of which may lead to AFib.

How to protect yourself from workplace chemicals and AFib

Yes, knowledge is power, and being aware of the problem is half the battle. But, you have to work, and you might not have the choice to work somewhere that doesn’t involve some type of workplace chemical. If you can’t avoid chemical exposure, follow these steps to protect yourself and your heart. 

Follow PPE guidelines

Most jobs, especially those working directly with solvents and other chemicals, will have guidelines in place for safely handling dangerous substances and avoiding contact. Follow all guidelines for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other safety regulations.

Shower after work

If you have a locker room or shower in your workplace, take advantage of it and rinse off and change into new clothes before getting into your car and going home. This will limit exposure and prevent you from bringing potentially dangerous chemicals into your home and car. 

Avoid formaldehyde 

Even if you don’t work directly in manufacturing, construction, farming, or another job where dangerous chemicals are used, you aren’t necessarily safe in your office building. Formaldehyde, as mentioned above, can contribute to AFib and cancer over time. It is found in many everyday objects such as particleboard, plywood, fiberboard, glues and adhesives, paper product coatings, and certain insulation materials.

Most office environments don’t contain proper ventilation, and indoor air pollution can be a serious problem. Open windows when possible, take frequent walks outside on your breaks to get some fresh air, and consider discussing an environmental and health-friendly shift from particleboard furniture to recycled aluminum or another material that doesn’t contain formaldehyde. 

Next steps

Tell your doctor if you’ve been exposed to toxins such as metal welding fumes, gases, and pesticides, as these workplace chemicals could increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease or AFib. The team at Natural Heart Doctor would be happy to help you order cutting-edge testing to determine your risk of toxic overload and give you safe, effective detox strategies.

Exposure to potentially deadly chemicals is common worldwide. However, if you stress over every incident, you will live in a constant sympathetic state, so stressed and anxious that you make yourself even sicker. 

You should take precautions and avoid chemicals whenever possible. But don’t let your fear of unseen chemicals rule your life. Switch to organic or homemade natural cleaning and personal care products in your own home, eat organic, and get plenty of fresh air to help combat chemical exposure and protect your heart.

Eat Well · Live Well · Think Well 


Medical Review 2022: Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD

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