Tuesday, October 11, 2016

DAILY GASP: 10.11.16



BAC and your health

An eye examination or the use of artificial tears should not end in a condition worse than before the supposed protective activity.  But many times this is just the case.  Eye drops - regardless of their chemical makeup - contain preservatives to keep them free of bacteria. These preservatives can and do cause many people a great deal of suffering.  The good news is, this suffering is avoidable.

If you are a sufferer of Chemical Sensitivity, then this post will be much more than simply, an article 'of interest' to you. The information here will spare you some serious suffering; some of it potentially life-threatening.

As I write this article, my right eye is puffy, red, irritated, itchy, watering and inflamed.  I had an eye exam 3 days ago, in which my regular ophthalmologist used an examination eye drop containing one of the most common preservatives used: BAC.

BAC is a widely used chemical preservative. BAC is used in a wide range of commonly used products, such as soaps, cosmetics, cleaning products, ophthalmic preparations, disinfectants, and spermicides. BAC inhibits bacterial and fungal growth. Thereby rendering the solutions, in which BAC is found, safe from bacteria-borne infections.  A very useful commodity for sure.

However, most such solutions (read: ALL!) come with a price. BAC is NOT an exception to this rule.
With BAC, that price is paid in your health.

Yes, the very premise upon which it is intended to protect; at least in the publicized intent of the manufacturers of the products in which it is found. But in reality, BAC is more dangerous than most of the chance infections it is intended to prevent.

BAC is one of four (4) acronyms used for Benzalkonium Chloride [1]. BAC is a highly hydrosoluble bipolar compound with surfactant properties; which means it acts like a detergent.  When BAC is in concentration between 0.004 and 0.02%, topical products (liquid products) do NOT allow bacterial cell walls or membrane to attach to any part of the products cellular structure. BAC's use is focused on stopping what is called, Gram-positive bacteria; those who are known to be serious causative agents of infection.

Simply put, BAC makes the liquid environment 'too slick' for bacteria to colonize. If bacteria cannot colonize, they die.  With no bacteria in the solution, then the solution drops to an industry standard level of 'unlikely infection potential'.  That is, for manufacturers and medical professionals, a sought-after acceptability.  Products then can be promoted, sold and used, on humans, for an often broad-spectrum of needs, by the millions of units.

Underneath all this euphemistic jargon, it simply means the product will become profitable. Those who make it can make money; usually a lot of money; from it.  Score. Point. Game.

For the most part, this kind of logic is also based upon a reasonably scientific rationalization. A product that 'stops or interrupts' infection is a good thing; especially in the medical professions.  So why would this not be a good thing?  Well, it is, in concept, for the most part.

For the most part.  That is until you look into what Benzalkonium Chloride does to the cells of the human body.  Then the value of its use comes into serious question.

Animal studies have shown that BAC has toxic effects, even in a single dose, at low concentrations, on the corneo conjunctival surface (cornea: clear covering over the iris; conjunctiva: the clear mucous covering of the eyeball).

It has been long known to ophthalmological professionals, that BAC, during prolonged usage in topical drugs, that damage will occur and the rise in allergic response is exhibited.

I address BAC (Benzalkonium Chloride) here because it is the most popular preservative used in topic pharmacology for the eyes.  But as this one study [2] clearly shows, ALL preservatives have either a toxic or allergic danger (or both) in their use; especially prolonged use. Or to quote them:

"...study confirms that most preservatives used in ophthalmic eye-drops may similarly induce strong histopathological and inflammatory changes in the ocular surface after short-term use."

Alright. I have addressed the problem.  I said there was a path to avoid this suffering. And so there is.

Preservative Free Eye Drops   
Refresh Plus (Preservative-free) eye dropsUPDATE:  My eye doctor suggested I use the Refresh PLUS artificial tear because it is 'preservative free'. And it may be - BUT - it is not free of chemicals harmful to hypersensitive people.

Thefore, I cannot recommend any OTC or prescription eye drops either. What my MCS facilitator told me today - when I went in to be cleared of the chemicals that caused the MCS FRAGG event; use highly diluted baby shampoo to wash your eyes. People who are hypersensitive to chemicals should NOT use Refresh PLUS or any kind of eye drop.  Even though the package and product are marketed as 'Preservative Free', it still contains far too many chemicals that would be detrimental to the hypersensitive.

Never assume a medication is OK.  You do not know until you try it. And that could be a very painful - possibly destructive - experience. 

In this case:  "The more you know the better off you will be."

- YOSAKIME


References
[1] Benzalkonium chloride - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benzalkonium_chloride
[2] Histopathological effects of topical ophthalmic preservatives on rat corneo-conjunctival surface - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9561834
[3] Refresh Plus (corporate info) - http://www.refreshbrand.com/Products/refresh-plus
[4] What is: Carboxymethylcellulose sodium  - http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-18521/carboxymethylcellulose-sodium-ophthalmic/details
[5] Drugs.com on preservatives in eye-drops - https://www.drugs.com/otc/108027/refresh-plus.html

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

DAILY GASP: 03.18.13

Wood Smoke...
beware it can be quite harmful

I sit here on the couch writing this latest Daily Gasp, doing just that, gasping.  I have had light chills and fever, body aches, a nasty headache and a most unusual sore throat, for the past 48 hours.  All due to wood smoke.

But I'm ahead of the story.  Let me take you back to where it started; Why and How I got here and most important, HOW to prevent the same situation for reoccurring.

Over the past couple of months, we have been noticing a disturbing smell in our house.  The smell of hot dust. You know the smell. The one you get when you turn on a lamp - that has set undisturbed for some time  - after the bulb warms, the collected dust heats us creating a distinctive odor without any smoke or flame.  Because the odor diffuses quickly it is very difficult to track down the origin.

Each time I sensed the odor - and I did so quickly - I would rush between outlets, feeling each cover and equally feeling all the areas of the wall around each outlet for warmth. Nothing. Grabbing up power strips to smell and touch.  Nothing. Only the pungent smell. The more we looked for the source, we were able to determine that the source had to be downstairs. But that was as far as our investigation went.

A most annoying and frightening mystery.  The premonition of the condo burning was not pleasant.

We awoke as normal on Friday morning last, to a cooler than a normal house. The furnace, we found out, was not working.  I called and was able to get a repairman out that morning.  After a couple of hours of troubleshooting and repair, he announced, 'it should work'.  And it did all day Friday.  But again we awoke Saturday morning to no heat.

It wouldn't have been too bad, had the weather report held with what was forecast at midweek. But, alas, it didn't! The weather and temperature took a very seasonally strange turn toward COLD!  Wind.
Temperatures with highs in the low-20's and windy, made for a rather miserable time.

We were not going to be home, so we just ignored the cooling house and figured we could 'hold-out' until Monday; in order to keep from paying for 'weekend HVAC repairs'.  Besides - we had the little fireplace to 'knock-the-chill-0ff'.  It wasn't a problem since we'd it for the last couple of years - off-and-one - with no negative problems.  Cool ..! We'll just light-up the fireplace and enjoy some romantic, old-time comfort.

Famous last words ...

The Turn of the Tide

I did just that. Prepared the fire, as I had done many dozens of times before.  I grew up on a farm. For years we heated with wood heat, from a stove.  My parents moved from the farm and built a new house with a fireplace and woodstove insert. I knew all about building a fire and what wood to use.

What I was not prepared for was the result of inhaling wood smoke as an MCS sufferer.

The fire started and the heat was rolling out.  Ohhhh! It was nice and welcome.  For roughly 6 hours we enjoyed the familiar and cozy warmth of a wood fire.  Then the wind began to blow.  By 10 PM the wind was blowing about 20 mph with gusts to 40+. That was when I noticed the puffing of smoke out of the fireplace doors.

This wasn't something of too much concern since most fireplaces have 'backdraft' problems when wind gusts get too strong. Past experience told me it would be 'smokey smelling' but that would dissipate rapidly and then we'd be back to normal.

But it didn't work that way.  Shortly after the smoke began to roll out the doors, I began to become quite congested.  Soon after a headache began. Within an hour I was into full-blown MCS FRAGG!  Fibromyalgia. Chills. Headache. Cough. Rash. Foggy-brain. The whole shebang!

By this time I had managed to extinguish the fire. But the damage was done.  And we had to open the windows and doors in an attempt to air the condo out.  Well after about 2 hours, my wife could no longer stand the cold and we had to shut the windows.  For her, the smell of smoke was gone. For me, it was imprinted upon my olfactory like an indelible tattoo.  The saga had begun.

Sunday I awoke more in the realm of the dead-walking, than in the living. I could barely move - and chose not to.  Bedridden except for mandatory bathroom trips.  My wife was both angry and perplexed.  We had never encountered this reaction before.  And what were we going to do, if the furnace could not be fixed soon and the temps -constantly falling- were not looking to warm up for several days?

Showering would have been an exercise in masochistic insanity.  But since my wife had to go to work on Monday, we needed heat! But the fireplace was a total 'NO WAY'.  I was in bed all day; in and out of a state of pain induced confusion.  I was no help and going south fast.

Fortunately, the HVAC pros were able to come early on Monday and finally fix the furnace.  As it turned out the cause of the problem was 'factory-based' - so the repair was covered under warranty. But that was the only good part of the whole ordeal.

I don't know how I will react to wood smoke from this point forward, but I can say for sure, I will be avoiding it at all cost.

--- UPDATE  04.20.13 ----

Over the past month, I have encountered wood smoke:  a) outside the condo from others burning wood in their fireplaces;  b) while walking;  c) driving down the road - in each case, the reactions - thought not as severe, have all had the same results: it makes me sick.  Just the slightest smell is all it takes to set the MCS FRAGG into motion.  In this case.. it may be a pseudo-MCS; smell induced memory, in which neuroplasticity is at play; that is the true culprit. Regardless, the smell-of-woodsmoke induces an MCS FRAGG reaction.  I have not allowed myself to go far enough into a FRAGG incident to see it the results equal that night with the fireplace. And frankly, I am not that self-experimental and don't have that much desire to know.  It happened once - and that was enough for me.

More 'casual-causal' observations will be needed to draw a full conclusion. In the meantime... I am avoiding ALL wood smoke.

Just one more thing, which I enjoyed before-MCS, I have now lost.   MCS is a tragedy to life.

YOSAKIME

Friday, March 1, 2013

DAILY GASP: 03.01.13



Demarle Silpat® silcone/fiberglass non-stick cooking sheet
Empirical evidence is what is needed to 'prove' the danger of anything. Empirical data is hard to come by when huge amounts of money are involved. It seems to clog up the common and good sense orifices of society.
I am writing this while setting in our dining area, just off the kitchen, typing this with a splitting headache, beginnings of fibromyalgia, congestion, growing nervousness and topical itching spreading across my upper torso and stomach.

I am MCS (mutliple chemical sensitive). I have been for nearly 12 years. Though I am nowhere as troubled by incursions as I once was, mainly due to NAET treatments and franky, isolating myself from exposures to chemicals.
My body has begun to stabilize; again able to buffer against chemical incursions so that, as long as my exposure is kept to within tolerable limits, I avoid serious setback. But my sensitivity is as intense as ever.

My wife recently purchased a Demarle cooking sheet, at an 'At Home' party sponsored by a friend. I had no idea what the party was about - other than a 'cooking party'.  I was not attending the party, mostly because, due to the MCS, I must severely curtain my contact with groups and unknown environments.

As we pulled away, after picking my wife up from the 'cooking-party', my wife began telling me about the 'wonderful' product she had been introduced to and how 'amazing' it was for baking. I asked what it was made from: she said, spun fiberglass, coated with cooking-grade silicone. She then told me she had ordered a cooking sheet and a cake pan.

It was probably a good thing it was dark in the car. She couldn't see the grimmace on my face.
I asked one question and did not ask another. Those who know any MCS family/relationship/person, understand the 'tension' that can rise when, 'once again' -- the questions begin.

My question I asked," Did you smell anything 'non-food'; chemical; acrid?" She said no. My wife does not have near the sensitivity I do in sensing odors, but she is alert. So, I felt, 'OK, this might not be a problem.'

The question I did NOT ask, "Did the host mention anything about 'burn in'? I wish I had.

Had I asked that I would not be setting here with a growing sense of malaise washing over my growing headache and body pains.

She mentioned the 'host' said there were no VOC's. I am not a practicing scientiest, but have worked in several accompanying positions with many scientists, in a number of fields:chemistry and physics; engineering; applied sciences; natural sciences. I've also been long involved in the industrial and commercial end of business. One of the reasons why I eventually went MCS.

So I know a good deal about VOC's, volatile organic compounds. These are what 'off-gas' when a material is heated. This is a grave concern to the MCS person. And the first thing I thought of when this product came to my attention.  As I found out later, the only thing the company says about 'VOCs', is that they clain there are no VOC's given off in the manufacturing of their products. Nothing is said about any 'VOC off-gassing' in the USE of their products.

I should have said, 'No thank you. I don't think this will work. It's not worth the risk'. But I have to say this so often. This is a serous personal and social problem MCS people face.

We are to leave early in the morning for a weekend with friends and our son and his family: our only grandchildren. IF this is a 'fragg' - then I will be sick for the next 48 hours, at least. IF not, no worry; just a temporary ill-feeling; bummer of an evening, but juice for this article. But, I seriously doubt this is a mere 'ill-feeling'. The pattern fits an all too familiar scenario.  IF it's a really bad 'fragg', we won't be going anywhere.

I began a search on the product Demarle shortly after the conditions began manifesting this evening. Yes, this is something I should have done the very moment I heard what my wife had ordered; but I did not. I get so sick and tired of being on 'constant vigilance as a chemical-detective.  Again, a real problem for the fraternity of MCS sufferes. That won't happen again.

I find the Demarle is a French company, started back in 1965, by A. Guy Demarle.  The product that he invented, has revolutionized the baking industry. No doubt it has been greatly responsible for our access to so many types of well-baked breads.  But of course, we really don't need to eat as much 'grain-product' as we do .. but that is a whole other can-o-worms.

Suffice it to say, a company that has made such advancements in the cooking and baking industry; being quite responsible for many profit margins and incomes - is NOT going to just role over and cease - because they produce a product that is harmful to a few: though a growing few: people.  This is the nature of business.

In my research this evening I came across a blog post, on a blog called, GREEN YOUR WAY, with an artical titled, Is Silicone Bakeware Really Safe?. The article written by Katie, was posted November 7, 2011.

It was a resonably well written article and it tried to address the issue of the title.  But, the author eventually admitted she, in-the-end, wrote another x-number word article that didn't say anything new on the topic: Is Silicone Bakeware Safe. There are a number of Internet links on this subject. Some are interesting. A few are worthy of reading. Most are rants and raves with nothing more than vitriol and not worth clicking on.  Still I found the article a useful piece.  For no other reason than to highlite the real problem.

Empirical data. 

If one cannot produce deep, repeated, authoritative empirical data that - in the minds of Government, Law, Commerce and the Boardroom - that the product in question is a proven problem, then 'forgetaboutit'. Move on. Drop it. There is no problem. Case closed.

Empirical data is treated with the class of a diety.  Nothing can be valid unless there is acceptable - to the 'knowing class' - empirical, scientifically derived data. Nothing else is valid.  It may be of interest to discussion, but not in decision making.
That really does not sit well on my already very discombobulated nervous system.

Empirical evidence? No, I can't say I have that. Not in any form an official science-official would accept.

But ... A very bad - and growing, worsening headache; aching muscles and joints; burning/itching sensation and overall nervous condition that makes it really hard to concentrate and not make typing mistakes? Yes. I have a lot of that.

My wife began baking her 'granola' on that Silpat sheet at 8:15PM EST GMT -5. At 8:14PM EST GMT -5, I felt just fine. At 8:16PM EST, GMT -5, from inside the downstairs bathroom, with a strong exhaust fan running, I got a whiff of what I can best describe as a 'thin line of an acrid hot-chemical smell'. I know the time, as I was looking at my phone at the moment. Before 8:20PM EST GMT -5, my headache began. Early signs of a fibro-attack began under a minute later. Then roughly 3 minutes later the itching and burning, wrapped in the nervousness, began.

At 8:27PM EST GMT -5, I walked into kitchen saying, 'Turn on the fan!' NO, I was not calm or nice. I was in pain. My wife had not even noticed the 'thin line of an acrid hot-chemical smell'. I am not surprised. It was masked for her by the cooking granola smells. By the time she cleared the food off the sheet and took it out to the garage, 10 more minutes had passed. The entire house -for me- was inundated.

It's 31F outside. I opened an upstairs window and turned a large fan to blow OUT. It ran for over 30 minutes. The house cooled down. But the smell? It persists. If I go outside, I will NOT be able to return.

It is now, 12:35PM EST GMT -5 and the physiological conditions persist and are elevating. This is not a good sign. Ten plus years of experiene tells me I am in the early stages of a 'major Fragg'. The next 48-72 hours will be very painful.

Empirical data? Maybe not.

But I'd sure love to have a collection of those scientists who say this product is safe and free from any environmental dangers, stand in front of me right now. As I could provide them with a descent replication of Michael J. Fox, during the mid-years of his 'Spin City' TV show. Nervously moving about, near-uncontrollable... and have them tell me that it's purely subjective and merely anectdotal.

Maybe if I puked on their shoes, they'd feel a bit less egotistical and truly 'see' that clinical evidence of my suffering, is actually quantifiable empirical data.

Then again, data is always subject to analysis.  But at least they'd have the stench of that puke to forget ... wouldn't they..?

YOSAKIME