"Progress, which has contributed to bringing relief to our society, in addition to having a devastating impact on the environment that surrounds us, is also responsible for the emergence of new and serious diseases for humans."
Prof. Giancarlo Ugazio Former President of the Research Group for the Prevention of Environmental Pathologies
According to data collected by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 3,000 cities around the world, 92% of the world's population lives in places where the level of air quality exceeds the limits set by international environmental agreements for total emissions of atmospheric pollutants.
Exposure to electro smog, various chemicals such as herbicides and insecticides, formaldehyde, PFAS, and the production of polluting gases, as well as a stressful lifestyle, have created a toxic environment for human health.
This scenario has contributed to the emergence and spread of so-called environmental diseases. Many dermatological diseases belong to this group, as well as tumor forms and rare diseases.
Some of these, such as multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), struggle to be recognized by the scientific community. Others, such as chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), although already on the World Health Organization's list, are not recognized in several European states, including Italy. Fibromyalgia, although it has its own treatment protocol, has great difficulty being diagnosed by the medical community.
All of these pathologies present very similar symptoms, which often occur simultaneously in some individuals. Many of them also show symptoms related to the presence of electromagnetic fields, stating that they also suffer from electrosensitivity.
The symptoms related to these pathologies are extremely variable, subjective, and difficult to circumscribe: from persistent and disabling asthenia to hypersensitivity to odors, chemicals, noise, and light, to the development of severe chronic widespread pain and cognitive problems of concentration and memory (brain fog).
Recent studies have shown how illnesses of this kind can be linked to Central Sensitization Syndromes (CSS), which are characterized by an altered perception of normal sensory stimuli and altered perception of central system stimuli, their neurotransmitters, and neurochemical activities whose symptoms involve the entire body. These are triggered by tissue damage or stress that sensitizes our receptors. The scientific community currently speaks of at least three co-causes for this group of illnesses: a physical and genetic predisposition, a triggering factor, emotional or viral, and environmental causes.
In Italy, those who are affected by such illnesses struggle to receive a diagnosis, and those who do, rarely receive adequate care and help from public institutions, despite facing skepticism from some in the medical community and incurring significant expenses.
These illnesses often have devastating effects on people's daily lives, social relationships, and emotional well-being. They become invisible, alone, marginalized, and not believed by society. Often, patients are isolated or self-isolate in their homes, which they modify to suit their needs.
This is what Thresholds is about - an alienation from the world that is forced and painful. Through the stories of sick people, the project investigates how deep and dangerous the connection between our human body and the external world is, and how retreating within one's own threshold becomes the only way to protect oneself from a toxic environment.
As an MCS patient, I experienced this isolation for several years, putting a strong strain on my physical and mental health and my relationships. During this period of isolation, I often questioned whether technological, industrial, and economic progress that permeates all our lives should change direction and begin investing in innovative research for the benefit of people and the environment.
This requires a radical paradigm shift and a collective effort that includes institutions, healthcare, businesses, and citizens themselves.