Saturday, May 12, 2012

Chemical Pneumonia

Several years ago I lived in Mississippi.  It's a long story why a New Englander was down south, but the short version is that my brother was in New Orleans and he became ill.  The closest I could get to him was to move to Mississippi where I got a job in Jackson.  My boyfriend at the time and I rented a house in Hazelhurst.  This town was the setting for the story and movie, Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley.  It's an oldy but goody film with Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, and Sissy Spacek.  There were some eccentric characters in that movie, and there were still some eccentric characters in the town when I lived there.  The landlady of the house we rented had a shrine to Elvis in her living room, she was about 80 years old, still had a figure to die for, and drove around in an old Cadillac.  She said her daughter had shot her once, so perhaps they were part of the inspiration for the Crimes of the Heart story.

The house we rented from our sweet, eccentric neighbor was a lovely old bungalow, but one of the rooms had mildew all over the walls.  I was told that cleaning the walls with a mixture of bleach and water would get rid of it.  While cleaning the walls, I tended to hover over the bucket.  This was a really bad thing to do as when I had finished cleaning, my lungs started to hurt when I breathed.  I kept going to work, but I decided to call the poison control center.  A very helpful woman told me that I had chemical pneumonia.  I described the severity of my symptoms, and she said it didn't sound too bad.  It did clear up after a few days, but I've never wanted to work with bleach since that experience.

An article about cleaners causing lung issues is on the New York Times Health web page:  Chemical Pneumonitis.  And I found an article on 3 Ways to Kill Mold Naturally by Care2. Since I don't live in such a humid climate anymore and my apartment tends to be dry, I thankfully can't try out these recipes.  But, they include two of my favorite cleaning ingredients: tea tree oil and vinegar.  I've never tried the grapefruit seed extract, but I have heard it's a good non-toxic cleaning ingredient.

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