Steps I've taken to benzene VOCs (volatile organic compounds)

Page 5

A person's arm in an olive green coat touching the side of a pull-down kitchen sprayer faucet with the hose extended and the water running

Now that our kitchen linoleum floor has been painted, covered with plywood and painted again with a no-VOC paint, which made a huge difference in the air quality of the whole house, it became very obvious that this pull down kitchen faucet sprayer was also a source that I was getting a reaction from. When I touch the hose my hand tightened with a tingle that shot down to my elbow. No more drinking or cooking with the water from the kitchen sink, not even for the dogs. I do not know what material the hose is made from or what is inside the large nozzle, but I do know it's got to go.

A kitchen sink with a glass jar that has a little bit of soap in it

Oops, out of habit I turned on the kitchen sink and added a little water to my soap jar. When I mixed it around with my fingers as usual my hand immediately swelled up and began to hurt. That is what reminded me that the water coming from that faucet is pulling out the chemicals in the spray hose. I am looking forward to switching the faucet out to one without a hose.

A package of sliced provolone cheese sitting on top of brown wax paper with a blass mason jar full of cheese behind it on a white countertop

Instead of buying sliced cheese that is prepackaged in plastic, we started buying deli cheese and immediately transferring it to a mason jar that has a chemical free lid (bought separately). This limits the time the food has to touch the plastic and wax coated packaging. I am working on getting different types of glass and other chemical-free containers.

A brown cork board with decorative tomatos at the top and a synthetic cork board below with push pin thumb tacks shaped like a heart and a picture of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac pinned to the board hanging on a wall

This old cork board in my kitchen made a tingle travel from my hand, up my arm to my elbow when I touched it. Nerve pain shot down from between my fingers to my palm. As I carried it out to the porch I coughed and my lungs tightened. My hand began to swell and didn’t stop until I wash my hands.

A dog bed unzipped showing the raw organic cotton stuffing and a sewing needle with a tag that was just removed laying on top

The dog's bed stuffed with raw organic cotton came in. First I had to remove the tags. I am not sure what material they are made from, but it hurt my fingertips as I used the sewing seam ripper to remove them. I then sewed the bed back up. Companies rarely attach tags in a way that make them easy to remove, even when their item they are selling is all natural and the tag is made from a material people are trying to avoid.

Two blue-nose pit bull dogs laying down on a tan dog bed in front of a lit fireplace

The bed has two layers. An inner layer cover around the raw cotton and an outter layer that is meant to be removed and washed from time to time. We also covered the bed with an organic natural color cotton blanket that will be easy to wash to help keep it clean.

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We bought an organic dog bed for Yuki, Sara’s German Shorthair Pointer puppy as well since we are watching him a lot while she finishes up her last few months of college, but he peed all over it the first night. Luckily it was covered up with a blanket. Stephen coincidentally woke up to take him out before it totally sunk into the bed. I have to admit, it was my fault for letting him play in the bathtub where he drank a lot of water an hour before bedtime. He was having so much fun it didn’t occur to me that it would make him have to pee so badly hours later. However, it was most likely a good wake-up call to let him mature a little before giving him such an expensive bed since he is still teething. Now that I think about it, past events make me believe that he would have most likely chewed a hole in it. Yuki, you are going to have to sleep on easy to wash chemical-free cotton towels until you grow up a little.

Two rolls of of silk dental floss next to a glass jar with a roll of floss inside of it sitting next to a white plastic container of standard dental floss on a gray countertop

I switched from my petroleum-based dental floss to a natural, real silk floss coated with candelilla wax packaged in a glass jar with a metal lid. My gums used to be sore and I thought it was normal for flossing. Now that I have switched to a more natural product my gums no longer bleed and hurt between my teeth. I read that a lot of dental flosses are coated with teflon or petroleum and made from nylon or polyester.

An open window with very old gel clings on it

I just noticed these old gel clings on Sara's old bedroom window. She's in college now so these gel stickers must have been there for over a decade. I am not even sure how to get them off. They are now very hard and attached to the glass of the window. When I touched them the nerves in my hands tingled. I didn't keep my hand there long enough for the pain to set in.

A metal razor scraping tool with bits of silicone all over a wooden step

Unfortunately when I was attempting to seal the fiberglass in the walls of my house, I used silicone to seal the cracks on my steps because I had felt bad air coming from the closet, which was located under the staircase.

A girl with blonde hair wearing a blue shirt and jeans leaning with her right foot on the second step on a staircase and her left foot on the floor below.

Turns out silicone gives me a very strong fast reaction. Now I have to get it off the steps. My toes go numb every time I go up and down the stairs. As I scraped, not only did it make my fingertips numb, but my right eye went numb with a burn feeling down my right nostril to my throat. I got a tingling sensation up my spine. My right side had been more directly faceing the steps as I scraped. The inside of my right foot went numb because of the way I was standing with my foot on the steps next to a line of old silicone. My left foot was further away on the floor.

A set of shiny white dishes with some having a blue heart with green leaf, and a brown decorative pattern around the rims

The best hope for my hands to heal, was to stop touching what was swelling them up in the first place. When I touched the dishes I once loved so much, my nerve pain came back. It was a source, but what was in them that I was reacting too? Turns out my dish set was made from a type of glass, but were sprayed with a soy-based silicone finish. Silicone is one of the materials that hurts the most, every time, no matter what form it is in.

Sharon Maguire - Updated 2-18-2020

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