Medical geology, is the science that studies the link between normal environmental factors and geographical distribution of 1) ___ problems. Medical geologists work to determine proper exposure levels for humans in regard to essential 2) ___. It is the right dosage that differentiates between a poison and a 3) ___. One example of this is fluoride. In the US, fluoride is added to public water systems in low concentrations to promote 4) ___ health. In other areas, children in tropical regions, such as Sri Lanka, may be exposed to fluoride concentrations in drinking water in excess of 1.5 mg/L. The result is dental 5) ___, a dark brown coloration and mottling of the teeth. On the other hand, too little of an essential mineral can be harmful. About 30% of the world’s population is at risk of iodine deficiency disorder (IDD), the most common cause of 6) ___ damage and mental retardation. As with dental fluorosis, tropical populations are the most at risk, in part due to their distance from the sea and the iodide it contains. Among the many other issues medical geologists are looking to unravel are: 1) 7) ___, the deliberate widespread consumption of earthy materials such as clay and minerals; 2) new compounds being identified in the extract of soil bacteria 8) ___ in the search for new anti-inflammatory drugs; and 3) the fate of tetracyclines being administered to livestock not to fight 9) ___, but rather to promote animal growth. Since tetracyclines are poorly absorbed, the majority of the dosage is excreted, and can accumulate in soil, which can negatively impact beneficial microorganisms in soil and water; 4) the potential for hard water to serve protective roles against cardiovascular disease; and 5) the apparent paradox that people living in regions marked by high levels of natural radioactivity do not seem to suffer 10) ___ health effects from their exposure. One hundred years ago, Julius Stumpf, a German physician and scientist, used white clay from Germany to treat a deadly form of Asian cholera, diphtheria, gangrene, ulcers of the tibia, eczema. Because people must interact with their geological surroundings, discoveries made by medical geologists can have enormous consequences for the well-being of people all over the world.

ANSWERS: 1) health; 2) minerals; 3) remedy; 4) dental; 5) fluorosis; 6) brain; 7) Geophagy; 8) fermentation; 9) infection; 10) adverse

Additional Information on Medical Geology – New medicinal clay research will be presented on Monday, 29 October 2007, at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Denver.

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