Warning: Your Home May be Hazardous to Your Health

I had one of those sneezing fits this morning, the kind Sandra and I usually blame on the cats, and my eyes are smarting and teary… Not a pretty picture.

So I was more than a little intrigued when I read an article on the web suggesting the cats may not be to blame after all. Apparently it’s those big, bad corporations that might be doing it to me.

The piece, which originally appeared on a site named Tom Dispatch and got picked up by Salon.com, makes the situation sound dire.

According to the article:

Today, we are all unwitting subjects in the largest set of drug trials ever. Without our knowledge or consent, we are testing thousands of suspected toxic chemicals and compounds, as well as new substances whose safety is largely unproven and whose effects on human beings are all but unknown.

The ominous-sounding passage reminded me of a scandal I had heard about. in which officials infected prisoners with syphilis to test some new drug. Of course that was a long time ago, and surely America has progressed since then?

Not so much, apparently. I just signed a petition asking the government to stop making companies test cosmetics on animals. I won’t go into detail because it’s a horrifying story and we have enough horror in our lives (and on our TVs) already. But if the powers that be show so little concern for the suffering of animals why would they worry about endangering humans?

The Tom Dispatch article – by vinyl, formaldehyde, asbestos, something called Bisphenol A and chemicals known as polychlorinated biphenyls.

What, I wondered, is going on? I know the air is full of soot and other pollutants spewing from power companies and industrial plants, but Bisphenol A and polychlorinated biphenyls – whatever they are)?

Here’s the scoop, according to the article:

The story of how Americans became unwitting test subjects began more than a century ago.  The key figure was Alice Hamilton, the “mother” of American occupational medicine, who began documenting the way workers in lead paint pigment factories, battery plants, and lead mines were suffering terrible palsies, tremors, convulsions, and deaths after being exposed to lead dust that floated in the air, coating their workbenches and clothes.

Soon thereafter, children exposed to lead paint and lead dust in their homes were also identified as victims of this deadly neurotoxin.  Many went into convulsions and comas after crawling on floors where lead dust from paint had settled, or from touching lead-painted toys, or teething on lead-painted cribs, windowsills, furniture, and woodwork.

And that’s just lead. Today, Americans are being exposed to a seemingly endless array of potentially dangerous chemicals, disguised as day-to-day house-and-garden stuff.  The article warns that “thousands” of these toxins are “firmly embedded in our lives and our bodies.”

It’s no wonder I’m having sneezing fits! In fact, as the boll weevil said to the farmer, it’s a wonder I ain’t dead.

Click to read the article.

Click for safety tips.

Click for officials infecting prisoners.