Friday, May 18, 2007

Chemicals, Chemicals Everywhere

There's no escape. Everywhere we go, there are chemicals in use. Our society seems saturated in chemicals and fragrances. Why are we so afraid? Why do we have to cover everything with chemical fragrances? What is this obsession?

It seems that every public bathroom now has a timed dispenser mounted on the wall which sprays its toxic cocktail into the air every few minutes. Any unsuspecting passerby runs the risk of being sprayed him- or herself, leaving said restroom with hair and clothing saturated in chemicals.

As I have detailed in previous posts, chemical sensitivity is more pervasive than many people realize, and I believe that a vast number of individuals experience various symptoms---headache, confusion, irritability, respiratory and neurological symptoms---which they don't even realize are caused by chemical toxins, some of which they use in their own homes.

Hospitals---those centers of presumptive healing and recovery---are awash in chemicals which can cause respiratory distress in the healthiest of individuals. Some nurses and healthcare workers are using union organizing to combat toxic exposures which lead to workplace-related injuries and disability, often as a result of disinfectants and cleaning agents. If our health care workers are getting sick at work, what's happening to the patients?

Just tonight, my wife was sprayed by a restroom fragrance dispenser (ironically, in our local Whole Foods Market), and hours later she still cannot get the scent off of her hands and out of her hair, resulting in irritability, lung distress, and headache. Perhaps complaints to the management will result in removal of the offending dispenser, a change for which we successfully campaigned in our local Trader Joes. Where does it end?

With my office now basically fragrance-free, I find that I can now come home without my clothes smelling of other people's perfumes and colognes. Still, now that it's summer, even our home isn't safe when we open our windows for "fresh" air and are inundated with the strong chemical scents of those toxically ubiquitous fabric softener sheets used in so many dryers.

These frustrations abound for us these days, and the only escape seems to be moving to the desert and living in profound isolation. One can certainly tire of these exposures, and the effects on the body are long-lasting and cumulative. As if life isn't exhausting enough, we are assaulted by chemicals and fragrances at every turn. What a sorry state of affairs.
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