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Erik Hare

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Member Since: Mar, 2007

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Blogs by Erik Hare

MCS
7/19/2007 7:50:02 PM    [ Flag as Inappropriate ]

I have been helping a friend do some construction on his home lately. The work has been mainly tiling and masonry to button up his home with inert construction materials that do not contain nasty chemicals like formaldehyde and isocyanates.

My friend has Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), and he has it bad enough that reactions to some of these chemicals have nearly killed him. He lives far away from cities and agriculture now to avoid the bombardment that sends his immune system into overdrive. It's working, but we have to seal up his house. Good old cement works wonders for this.

We became friends in part because I was one of the first people who believed him when he talked about his illness. At the time, I was a research engineer and had daily contact with incredibly nasty chemicals – and sometimes had a rather cavalier attitude towards them. When he described what made him sick, I realized that he was talking about the ketone functionality as a particular problem. I then told him that people who worked with Methyl-ethyl Ketone routinely become sensitized to it after a period of time, and have to transfer out of the coating lab where they use it by the drum load.

For me, however, it was even more personal. I worked with Xylene a lot at one time. My boss asked me if I was using Xylene, and I told him I was. He became very agitated and said that I better keep it away from him because he was sensitized to it and it was very bad stuff. Whatever. So I kept working away with the stuff, carefully contained in a hood, when one day my world looked and tasted pink. My head became so heavy I thought it would fall off, and I could focus on only one thing – I was under attack. I had become sensitized to Xylene myself. These things do happen.

When driving up to work on my friend’s house, I was stopped for nearly 5 minutes on the interstate for a paving operation. Large trucks angrily dumped big loads of asphalt next to me ahead of the paver that smoothed it into a road. I rolled up my windows and turned off the fan, but it was no use. The smell held me by the nose while a hammer hit at the side of my head, repeatedly. And I could not move in the traffic. Asphalt contains many Xylene-like materials, so it was hitting me where I knew I had a problem. But the guy up ahead still had his sign rolled to "STOP". I was stuck. I had to stop, but they didn't.

I'm not the healthiest person in the world. I drink way too much tea, I have a few beers once a week, and I occasionally smoke. All of that is nothing compared to a few small incidents we encounter all the time with terrible things that don't belong in a world inhabited by humans. Thankfully, paint is getting better all the time, but the nasty Ketone smell used to be nearly everywhere, waiting for another victim.

Our bodies do not like many things in our environment. Sometimes, the exposure throws our immune systems into a frenzy in a vain effort to protect us. Some of the things, like smoke or alcohol, we can avoid. Others we are forced to endure. MCS is becoming more and more common largely because we are simply not careful with some very nasty materials.

I think we can be reasonable about this. I don’t think we need to get rid of everything bad unless there’s a direct and personal issue. But how on earth we put up with a fuming pile of asphalt is beyond me. We used to have a saying around the lab – "That can’t be good for you." Well, it's not. A few precautions are in order, at the least. We know a lot about long term exposure to many fairly common materials, and it's clear that more and more people are reacting to them. It's time to at least have some decency and consideration and get those out of our everyday environment - by law, if we have to.



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More Blogs by Erik Hare
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Rigby's Roads by Michael Charles Messineo

This book is about life and death and overcoming personal struggles to discover the real you that is hidden inside. The story emphasizes waking up in life, working your list of 50 ..  
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