After we painted over our linolium floor the indoor air inside my house, in comparison, felt fresher. I slacked off on airing it out. I had been in the habit of opening windows, creating a current that brought in a lot of fresh air, fanning out the corners of the rooms and behind the furnture to stir it all up and make the stale, VOC filled air go outside. I was hopeful that I had found all of the large sources. But after a few days of only opening a window here and there the VOCs started to build up once again. There was something left and with the floor painted over I was able to get a better perspective. I could feel it coming from the countertops. I got brave and I didn’t fight it. I wanted to document the symptoms again. I started cleaning up my kitchen putting the dishes away and taking pictures for this page without forcing fresh air in.
Sharp nerve pain shot down from between my fingers as I put my mason jars away. My elbows ached and muscles tightened. My chest was pounding and felt tight. Breathing felt like a chore with a burn sensation. My face, feet and fingers felt numb. My entire body hurt and felt swollen and drained. My joints ached from head to toe. My ears started to ring and I had a heavy metal taste in my mouth.
The joints in my hands hurt as I carried my laundry to the laundry room, which is the room next to the kitchen.
My eyes were red, felt dried out with a burn sensation and were blurrier than normal. My cheeks were red and flushed and my skin felt dry and stung. My top teeth felt loose. My muscles ached. My body was tired and my chest tight. My lips felt like they were getting chapped. The corners of my nostrils felt raw as my nose ran. The calfs on my legs cramped and twitched when I walked. My chest tightened and I coughed as I climbed the stairs. I felt fatigued, dizzy and disoriented.
I was finished torturing myself. I took a shower and put on fresh clothes and headed off to my bedroom on the second floor, which has a fan blowing in fresh air all day long, all year round. As I laid in bed my body still ached. Stretching made me feel somewhat better, but as I moved around trying to get comfortable I got a bad cramp in my left side. My neck was stiff. My arms shook and elbows ached like they were unsteady. My hand felt crampy and fingers ached as I touched my phone taking notes about what was happening and when. I believe I am feeling the volatile organic compound (VOC) benzene and phthalates, a semi-volatile organic compound (SVOC).
The next day I got a cold sore on my lip.
I bought a countertop stone and stainless steel sealer that is said to be non-toxic, eco-friendly and odorless. It states it is a 100% active formula with no solvents, VOCs, BPAs, or petroleum distillates with no drying or curing time required. I am not sure what the ingredients are, but I am going to try it on part of my countertop and see if things get worse, better or stay the same.
I tried the countertop sealer. I have to admit, it made the counter look pretty. However, VOC wise, it made it worse. It put an oily coat of moisture on top of a counter that emits vapors. Air quality is always worse when it's humid because the moisture in the air pulls the otherwise low-laying vapors up. The VOCs increased substantially and as the night continued, it kept getting worse and worse.
It seemed to be just an oil and was not going to improve the air. I needed to get it off so I could try paint. I used some standard cleaners to remove the oils, then applied raw vinegar. When I wiped over the underside of the counter I got a strong face burn. My lungs tightened with a heavy metal taste in my mouth. All of my symptoms were back. I bent down and looked. Why was the underside stronger than the top of the counter? Then I saw it. The underside of my countertops were never sealed off like the top. It was raw material with no seal coat and it was incredibly bad air quality-wise.
I’m going to paint the underside to try and seal it off like we did with our linolium floor.
To be continued...
- How to get benzene VOC vapors out of your house
- The Linoleum Floor
- The Linoleum Floor - Painting
- My Nail Polish and the Chemical Benzene
- Steps I've taken to avoid benzene VOCs, page 1
- Steps I've taken to avoid benzene VOCs, page 2
- Steps I've taken to avoid benzene VOCs, page 3
- Steps I've taken to avoid benzene VOCs, page 4
- Steps I've taken to avoid benzene VOCs, page 5
- Steps I've taken to avoid benzene VOCs, The Dogs
- My Kitchen Countertops and the VOCs
Sharon Maguire - Updated 2-13-2020