Breathing In My Possibly Toxic Home
I was genetically blessed with the big three: Allergies, Asthma, and Eczema. I've suffered with these, albeit mildly, for as long as I can remember. I didn't really start taking medication regularly until after college. I honestly thought my respiratory ailments were something I just had to live with. But over the last decade, I noticed my asthma and allergy symptoms became more severe. Over the counter and prescription medications were no longer as effective. And while being in a Benadryl coma at night helped me feel refreshed in the morning, that's not ideal for the longterm. I'd like to keep my liver healthy.
I started getting mild headaches in addition to constantly being stuffed up. You can even hear my nasal sounding voice in my Yoga videos especially when Down Dog was involved. About two years ago, my congestion was worse than ever because of a sinus infection. After a round of amoxicillin I noticed my head felt so much better. I realized I had been walking around with a headache, probably for years, but I thought this was life in my body. It wasn't so bad. After being diagnosed with chronic sinusitis, I did allergy testing to see what I could change environmentally. My mold allergy numbers were sky high, so, I had my home ventilation system cleaned and bought a few air purifiers. While our house needed the deep cleaning from the inside, I physically didn't feel much relief. I was back to my regular congestion and the headaches returned.
I saw an E.N.T. who suggested surgery because of the size of something anatomical in my nasal passages. I'm wasn't opposed to surgery, but I wanted to exhaust other less invasive treatments first. I talked about acupuncture with my physician and she said while that can be successful for some, for me, it would be something I'd have to consistently maintain while only providing temporary relief. Surgery, would most likely be longer lasting. I kept thinking to myself, maybe I am breathing something in my home that I could easily take away as a little experiment?
I have friends who are adamant about not using plug in air fresheners or even burning candles because they claim they are toxic. I have to be honest, I was of the mindset that these things wouldn't be sold to the masses if they were really dangerous. I know might that sound naive but roll with me. I have a wood chest in my entry way where I left one of these plug in air fresheners down sideways. I didn't know the oil inside would leak out until it was too late. The oil stripped the top layer of paint the chest. What chemical was in that thing to do that kind of damage?
That was my first red flag. Then I noticed on the top of these plug in fresheners were brown drops. Like the oil evaporating into the air dripped back on it and burned. I looked at the places where I plugged these things in and saw a strange peeling. In all fairness, the instructions say the plug ins need to have a 12 inch clearance above them and I did not abide by that, but what happened to the underside of my kitchen cabinets was so strange. I knew then I was breathing this in and so was my family.
Last year, I went into an herbal store to check out the space for a possible fitness studio location. I pretended to be a client and inquired about some candles. The owner talked about the importance of candle ingredients and how his were non-toxic and soy based. He really knew his products and inspired me to do my own digging. For years, I bought candles from the same place where I bought the plug in air fresheners. I also chatted with one of my Yoga students who worked in one of these stores and she told me that people don't understand, you should not put these plug in items in every room of your home. They are made to only be used in one or two rooms and certainly not all day long.
I knew what needed to happen. I unplugged every one of those air fresheners and I stopped burning those candles. I did a lot of reading and I came to a few realizations. There's a plethora of articles that make the case for all candles being toxic. You are burning things in your home. Words like Carcinogens and toxicity scare the crap out of me and they were in every article that was backed up by studies and experts. There's also a plethora of articles discussing how most candles and air fresheners ARE safe and because of the change in some environmental laws within the last 20 years, we don't have to worry about them as much. These are also backed up by scientists and researchers. So who do I believe? In the great words of Kelly Taylor from 90210 when she had to choose between Dylan and Brandon; I choose me.
Only I, know how I felt. Only I, could interpret the effects of my little home experiment. I've elected to do the surgery because I'm still pretty congested all day, everyday. But, those pesky headaches? I started the experiment in early spring of 2020. About a week in, the headaches mysteriously disappeared and I haven't had one since.
Author's Note: I deliberately did not name the store for legal reasons, but I do believe we should all be conscious about what we plug into our outlets and distribute into the air we breathe. And most importantly, when your body talks, it's important to listen.