Friday, October 31, 2008

Indoor pollution is killing me!

This scene is outside our house where the air is healthier than it is inside. Pristine and pure, our air we breathe must be as clean as the driven snow. photo by Barry Beall

Do you know anyone with chemical sensitivity? You might have it yourself. Do perfume and other fragrances bother you? Can you use Clorox in your laundry without it taking your breath or making you cough?

I first noticed my chemical sensitivity when anyone wearing perfume came close to me. My husband had to stop wearing the cologne I'd always loved on him. When I was in the room with my sister June, I had to stay as far from her as possible because she loves perfume. I had to leave our church choir one Sunday because a sweet lady wore her favorite perfume.

This is a malady that is affecting more and more older people. It also hits children pretty hard. One woman said her two year old suddenly developed asthma and she learned it was from the cleaning products she used in the house. The child, whose immune system is not as strong as an adult's, couldn't handle the dangerous chemicals polluting the house.
This week, although I've gone as green as possible in my house, we are having a renovation done and after the plumber had come to put in the pipes for the washing machine, I had the worst attack I've had in many years. Turns out it was the glue used on the PVC piping. The harsh chemicals took my breath and I had to go outside to breathe. We closed off the new laundry room, placed an air filter machine in the living area but I had to retire to my little cubby hole of a room with my own air cleaner which runs day and night, close my door and hibernate.

When we can't get oxygen into our lungs our bodies shut down. My brain stopped working properly. I grew extremely sleepy, and coughed and wheezed until my throat hurt. I felt like my chest was weighed down with heavy bags, and I couldn't empty my lungs.

After that experience, my system was so overloaded that everything triggered asthma for me. It has been a hard week because of this ,and I can't wait until John finishes his work and we can, hopefully, clean the air in the house and get rid of the indoor pollution that seems to be killing me. Did you know that we have about 85% more pollution inside our houses than we have in the outside air?
My sweet sister, Gay, who has come up this week from Atlanta to help me, discovered today that her hairspray brings on my asthma attacks. She was so sure she had an unscented hairspray that would not bother me, but I can smell it on her clothes, and it triggers a coughing spell and difficulty breathing.

I am hoping that within a few days, I'll feel better but until then I might have to become a hermit and stay in my little room with my computer.


Anonymous said...

Chemical Sensitivity is on the rise and can affect folks for many years before they are even aware of the wide spread affects and problems.
Good luck adapting to the challenges you're facing,
Linda in Greensboro

glenda said...

Linda in Greensboro,
I am finding more and more people just like me, but can't seem to impress those who don't have symptoms yet, to protect themselves as much as possible because they will likely develop the same symptoms I have.
I wish anyone else who has this problem would comment and tell me what they do to protect themselves. As for me, I'm thinking of posting a sign on my door: Don't pollute my air with your chemicals and fragrances.

Anonymous said...

Yes, for sure, post a sign on your front door. It will serve not only to protect you but to make others aware of the problems of perfumes. I'm quite sure most people don't realize they are dousing themselves in neurotoxins.
I want to propose perfume-free schools for my kids. Bad enough they take some classes in formaldehyde-laden trailers.
It's really all about reducing the toxic burden as much as possible -- eliminating every possible source of fragrance/toxins.
I speak to the public daily about the dangers of dryer sheets; the majority of folks have no clue. If people listen, I'll talk, and luckily I'm in a position of having a one-on-one audience very often, so slowly I'm getting the word out.
Put up signs. Speak to people. Talk more about it. Make your writer's groups all perfume-free / fragrance-free. Urge any church groups you're associated with to do the same. Refuse to be in a room with perfume-wearing people.
A scary reality is this is cummulative: while being in a room with a person wearing perfume might be only a pesky inconvenience to you now, in a year it might make you horizintally ill for two days, as it now does me. EVERY exposure makes it worse; avoid every exposure you can.
Feel free to email me if you want to talk further,

Glenda C. Beall said...

I know it gets worse over time. I used to be able to tolerate most things, but now I become really ill.
I've been to a number of doctors but no one can help. I continue to avoid chemicals and fragrances when I can, but I cannot always do this.
Where do we go for help?

Susie Collins said...

Aloha Glenda, I wanted to invite you to come visit the very supportive community at The Canary Report. It's a blog dedicated to helping people with chemical sensitivity. It may help you with your question, "Where do we go for help?" Anyway, come visit us and see what you think.

I love your blog so much! An amazing blend of topics. I'm a writer by profession and also have done some oral histories of women here in Hawaii-- I LOVE women's stories both fiction and non-fiction. I really look forward to following your blog.

Be well!


Glenda said...

Susie, thank you for commenting and visiting my blog. I will certainly check out the Canary Report. Thank you for your complimentary words about my blog and I do hope you will visit often.