Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Chemical Free 2009!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I was roaming the holiday decorations aisle the other day. I was looking at Christmas lights when suddenly I smelt this horrible scent. I looked around and to my horror I found these hanging at the end of the aisle. Nothing really is safe.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Boy, 12, collapsed and died after 'using too much Lynx deodorant'

By Andy Dolan
Last updated at 7:48 PM on 20th November 2008

Daniel Hurley, 12, who collapsed and died in his bathroom 'after using too much deodorant'
A boy of 12 collapsed and died after using 'copious' amounts of deodorant in a cramped bathroom, an inquest heard.

Daniel Hurley was overcome by solvents in the Lynx Vice spray and his heart began to beat irregularly, the hearing was told.

His father Robert found him collapsed in the bath at the family home after spraying on too much of the deodorant.

Mr Hurley said he had desperately tried to revive Daniel but the schoolboy died in hospital five days later from cardiac arrhythmia - or abnormal heart rhythms.

He told the inquest in Derby on Wednesday that Daniel 'was always putting gel on his hair and spraying deodorant'.

Mr Hurley told the inquest he had been making tea while his son used the bathroom at their home in Sandiacre, near Nottingham.

'The bathroom is adjacent to the kitchen and I shouted to see if he was OK,' he said. 'I heard nothing so I shouted again but did not get a reply.

'I forced the door open and found Daniel in the bath. I checked for his heart rate and his breath but he was not breathing.'

An ambulance took Daniel to Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre. He died five days later on January 12 this year.

Daniel Hurley died after using Lynx Vice spray - but the coroner said the dangers were clearly explained on the can
Consultant pathologist Dr Andrew Hitchcock, who carried out a postmortem examination on Daniel, said he found no evidence of substance abuse. There was also no evidence of any life-threatening disease, alcohol or drugs in Daniel's body.

'What we have in this case is someone who may well have had a cardiac abnormality in the presence of the solvent,' Dr Hitchcock said.

'There is a very reasonable assumption that the passive inhalation of the solvent almost certainly led to his death.'

Coroner Dr Robert Hunter recorded a verdict of accidental death, giving the cause as 'cardiac arrhythmia, exacerbated by exposure to solvents'.

He said he was satisfied that Unilever, the manufacturer of Lynx, gave enough warning on its cans that excessive amounts of aerosol deodorant should not be used in confined spaces.

Lynx cans warn that the product should be kept out of the reach of children, adding: 'Use in well ventilated places, avoid prolonged spraying.'
However, Dr Hunter said: 'I do not know how many people read the warnings about exposure awareness.

'People need to know about the risks that these products have.'

A spokesman for Re-Solve, a charity fighting solvent abuse, said it was the first case they were aware of in which somebody died as a result of accidental exposure to solvents in aerosol cans.

Friday, October 31, 2008

November 13th Update:

Couple asks South Whitehall to allow 'bubble house'

Pair appealing judge's order that haven be torn down.

By Andrew C. Martel | Of The Morning Call

Elizabeth Feudale-Bowes has until Oct 31st to dismantle her chemical free area of her home

(Be sure to watch the video on the link)

This poor woman! I have been lucky in that I have been able to make my home safe for me. I can't imagine how this woman is going to be able to live healthily now. I know how damaging it is if someone inadvertently contaminates my home and how hard it is for me to to deal with the resulting reaction until I am able to detoxify my home again.  If I wasn't even able to feel safe in my own home I don't know what I would do. This to me in a Human Rights issue and I hope someone out there can help this woman fight this.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I took these photos last week at the Doctor's office. Not that I should be surprised...

Taken in the reception area:

Taken in the washroom:

Monday, June 02, 2008

Recently I went to Edmonton AB to get a haircut. Yes, you read that right. I flew 3,000 kms to get my hair done. Edmonton has the only hair salon specifically for those with allergies, chemical and scent sensitivities. (Ok, I also went to visit my mom but don't tell her the trip was more for my haircut than anything. I mean she is moving back to Ottawa in 2 weeks...)

The first problem was getting there. Airplanes are notoriously smelly. Small area, everyone wearing scented and chemical products, poor air circulation. I was really worried I would have a problem mid-air and as I was traveling alone, I wouldn't have anyone to help me or be able to explain why I even needed help. I prepared as best as I could. I made sure I had 2 of each inhaler with me, that I had my mask, that I had the little air nozzle on high. I chose an airline that sat 2 to a row instead of 3 and I chose an aisle seat so that I could easily get up and move around if I needed to. 

The trip to Edmonton went off without a hitch. Well almost. I did at one point have to use the bathroom. Air Canada uses Fruits and Passion scented soaps in their lavatories. I walked in and just about keeled over from the smell. It did however explain the scent I was smelling everytime someone walked past me. Other than that fateful bathroom visit though, I was fine.

I was also concerned about staying somewhere other than the safety of my own home. As much as you try to educate a person, often times they don't fully understand and I usually end up having issues. However my mom and step-father did a great job of detoxifying their home and making my stay a safe one.

First on the list of things I wanted to see was West Edmonton Mall. Yes, I know it's just a mall but it is the biggest one in Canada and it was something I wanted to see in my lifetime.  That was a mistake. I was told afterwards, that is the worst mall you could go to if you have issues with scents and chemicals. Wish I had been told that before I went. I made it around the first floor. It was terribly hot (I guess they still had the heat on) and it seemed as though everyone was wearing perfume or smoked. But I muddled through that first floor and took some pictures for the boy back home. After the first floor, I couldn't take anymore and headed back to my mom's house where I promptly went to bed. I was really feeling ill and was worried that I would have to cancel my hair app't the next day. Thankfully, after a good nights sleep, I was raring to go for my hair app't. the next morning.

Dtox is a home-based salon that is owned and operated by Ashley Smith. Ashley, also suffers from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity due to Chemical Injury more than 15 years ago. At one time she ran her business out of a public salon, however with more and more chemicals in our society, she was forced to down scale her business and run it out of her home. I was so excited about this hair cut that Renzo kept telling me to not to expect too much for fear it wasn't as fantastic an experience as I dreamed. He needn't have worried. I arrived and found her home to be as safe as my own. Ashley allowed me to test smell everything before she used it. At one point another client arrived who was wearing a scent that while it didn't bother her, she was concerned that it would bother me so she requested the other client change into a robe that was deemed chemical and scent free. There is a sign posted on the front door indicating that this request could happen and this client was a regular  and had no issue with changing. In fact she even apologized to me! I don't think I have ever had someone apologize for possibly making me sick. I knew right then that I was in a special place.

We decided that my hair needed a good cut with layers (took about 6 inches off) and blonde highlights with dark auburn low-lights. After not having my hair cut in about 4 years, it had become quite dark with a lot of grey. This colour put me back to my former natural hair colour. Even more than that, I got to feel like a normal person again for  2 hours. I got to sit and be pampered and feel pretty again. Renzo of course felt I paid too much for what he deemed as "just a haircut" but for me to feel like a normal person again, even for a short while,  it was well worth it. 

I also got to go to Jasper National Park to see the Rocky Mountains. That was a once in a lifetime experience for me that I will never forget. The views were beautiful and the wildlife was truly a sight to see. My photos are on Flickr for your viewing pleasure.

My trip went off beautifully. Then I got on the airplane to go home. The air conditioning system wasn't working properly and they were blasting heat through it trying to get it to restart itself. It was about 30C and the heat was making everyone smell even more than they already did. About 30 mins into the flight, I was over heated, dizzy and couldn't breathe. I ended up getting sick and passed out for a minute. When I came to, I was covered in cold clothes and ice packs and apparently had a temperature of 103F. Thankfully I was sitting beside a Doctor who was able to help me but that was the longest 4 hours of my life. Due my voice disability, I was unable to effectively tell them that I have a lung disease  and scent sensitivities and was simply ill due to the heat  and chemical soup that resulted so they just thought I was a nut-job who didn't like to fly. I have never been so embarrassed and will likely never fly again as a result.

Apart from that disastrous flight home, my trip was a welcomed break from my day to day routine. And getting some sexy new hair made it so worth it!

Friday, May 30, 2008

You gotta love a skateboarding Jack Russell Terrier...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

It's Super Renzo!

Friday, March 28, 2008

"People have often asked me what do I mean when I say I have permanent laryngitis so today I thought I would give you an example. This is how I have sounded everyday for the past 4 years. As you can see, I can be pretty hard to understand."

Some days I sound worse than this. It starts like this; turns into an East Indian accent; then I start to sound like the Swedish Chef (a la Muppets) until finally it just sounds like gibberish. To communicate, I rely on e-mail and MSN and sometimes charades. Renzo has gotten pretty good at translating what I am trying to say but some days, even he can't figure it out. The 'pups have often needed him to translate what I am telling them to do. When I go out, I either make sure he is with me to do all the talking, or I make sure I have pen and paper to write it out. I even have laminated pieces of paper with my Tim's, Starbucks and shawarma orders on them (now if they would just get video drive thru's...). Occasionally, I will have a thoughtful clerk think I am hearing impaired and try to communicate with me in sign language. Unfortunately, I don't know sign language so this really isn't helpful but the thought was there. One of these days, I should learn it. But that would also require everyone who has regular "conversations" with me to know it too so I guess that really wouldn't be helpful either. 

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Yes, the blog of 'Rooville has undergone an early spring makeover. As I can no longer eat my beloved ice cream, having a blog named after the luscious treat seemed a little silly. I decided, in my efforts to educate the world on becoming more fragrance free and safe for others like me, that it was time to get on my soap box a little more often. I hope to give a little more insight on what it's like to live with permanent voice-loss and in fear of a world that doesn't seem to want to change. I also hope to help others like me who may be having a hard time finding products that are safe or places they can visit without fear. But don't worry, the pups and that crazy Renzo will still be regulars around here. Even us preachy voiceless gals can't resist a good Renzo tale.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Renzo and I have a Valentine tradition where we cook each other a fancy dinner. We always do it the Saturday around Valentine's Day. We get all fancy; we even make menus! Mind you, we eat dinner in our pj's...

My menu for him:

His menu for me:
Table decorated:

For Renzo, Panzanella Salad with Arugula, Basil and Goat Cheese:Salad for me was Mixed Greens with Crusted Goat Cheese:

Pasta for Renzo was Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli (heart-shaped of course!) in a Lobster, Shrimp and Scallop cream sauce:

My pasta was Angel Hair in White Truffle Oil and shaved Black Truffles:

For the main course, Renzo had Almond Crusted Salmon with Puff Pastry and Pesto served with Creamy Orzo:

And I had Proscuitto Wrapped Chicken stuffed with Pesto:

I made Chocolate Tiramisu for dessert and Renzo made us Chocolate Martinis to go with it. Yummmmmmm-O!

Friday, January 25, 2008

We've all seen the signs. At school, work, hospitals. "Scent-free building s.v.p." And like most, you've probably thought, "Well I don't wear a lot of perfume, so I'm fine to enter."

The average person wears 10-20 different scents on any given day. Really! I've counted (and smelled most of) them. Think about it. You jump in the shower in the morning and wash your hair (#1), rub in some conditioner (#2), wash your body (#3), maybe shave various body parts (#4). Then you brush your teeth (#5); put on deodorant (#6), styled your hair (#7) and sprayed it in place (#8). Keep in mind you aren't even dressed yet. Clothing means laundry soap and usually fabric softener (#9 and #10). You might splash on some perfume/aftershave/cologne/or hugged a person wearing any of these (#11). Perhaps you are a smoker (#12). Perhaps you wore your coat to a bar the night before and had fajitas (#13). Perhaps when you brush your teeth you also use mouth wash (#14). Or you spilled some gas on your shoes when you filled up the car last night (#15). You wash your hands in the office bathroom (#16).

For most people, this is an average day and they think nothing about it. But for many, myself included, any one of, or all of these scents can cause all sorts of problems ranging from hayfever-like symptoms, to migraines, to anaphylactic type reactions. For these people, day to day life becomes very difficult. No longer is it easy to make a quick trip to the store for milk. Or in my case, to even work in an office environment. My reaction to scents is the severe kind whereby my breathing is hindered greatly. I can smell every one of the 14 scents on a person multiplied by each person in my workplace. That is a lot of scents to have to absorb when you have bad lungs. For me, exposure to scents of any kind is equivalent to feeding a person with a nut allergy a peanut butter sandwich. My lungs shut tight and if I am not where I can get access to the inhalers and breathing apparatus I need to reopen them, the result could be deadly.

It's not just the scents on a person to worry about. There are the cleaning products used to clean your dishes, counters, floors, glass, appliances; and household air fresheners. This add even more scents to the mix. These days, more and more products are becoming scented. Recently I've seen ads for scented bath towels and storage totes. There have even been scented billboards trying to encourage people to buy some smelly thing. And with more and more people being diagnosed with asthma and/or allergies, I just don't get it. As the world becomes more dependent on their vanilla cinnamon potpourri, the lungs of the next generation are becoming more weakened.

Unfortunately our government needs to recognize the issue before more will be done about it. Currently the terms "odor-free" ,"unscented" or "fragrance-free" on products are not regulated. It just means that no extra fragrance was added to a product. It does not take into account for the product's ingredients. Dove bar soap is a great example of this. Dove Unscented bar soap has a heavy perfumed smell. However, Dove Sensitive Skin bar soap is much more tolerable. It still has a bit of a scent but not one that makes me run for my inhaler.

Also, as there is no legislation on scent-free products, there are no rules in place for the stores that actually carry some of these items. For the most part, they are stored on the shelves, along side their smellier counterparts. As a result, scents from the perfumed items usually permeate the packaging of the "safe" items, thereby defeating the purpose. And then there are the stores like Shoppers Drug Mart, where you have to walk through the entire perfume section to even get to the product you want to buy.

In Canada, I have also found it hard to even find some scent-free products as compared to our American neighbors. A lot of perfume-free products cost more too and can be very hard to find at your local grocer, making your quick trip up to Loblaws become a long trip to Loblaws, Shoppers Drug Mart, Home Depot, Natural Health Food store. For this reason, I learned to buy in bulk. Slowly though, we are getting more perfume-free options.

Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia has created a list of products that should be safe for the chemically sensitive. As every person has a different trigger, not all these are safe for everyone but it's a great reference tool.

Method has a great line called Go Naked. With these products, I've been able to wipe off the kitchen counters or wash my dishes again. While this line can be hard to find in some areas, it is quite affordable at $4.99 an item.

While a little more expensive, Seventh Generation also has some great cleaning products in their Free and Clear line such as unscented bleach, window cleaner and dishwasher soap. In Ottawa, these can be found at Canadian Tire and Rainbow Foods. offers a good variety of products that are delivered right to your door rather than having to go to 5 different stores to find them. Shipping is $10.50 though so it's best to order a few items to get good value for your money.

Refreshingly Free is a web-based business out of North Carolina that offers a wide range of products. They offer everything from cleaning products to odor-free nail polish (which was a welcome sight to someone who still has some vanity left). Shipping to Canada can be a little pricey but to get the best selection it's worth it.

I would love to be able to go to work in the office; to go to a movie; to get my hair cut; or even just walk my dog around the block. Things that I am sure most of you take for granted. These are all things I have been forced to give up because no where is safe for me to go. Like anyone, I like to go out for dinner every now and then. To do so, I have to go either before dinner hour or after when the restaurant isn't as busy in order to be able to get a table that isn't around anyone else. Recently, I went to a restaurant a few blocks from my home. It was almost empty so it would be safe. Or so I thought. Turns out this restaurant has "air fresheners" attached to their heating system and every time the heat would turn on, the place was flooded with an awful flowery smell. The other day, I went to visit my uncle in the hospital. Sure, hospitals are supposedly scent-free. Except that the place is infested with Purell. Why they can't switch to a scent-free product such as Hands2Go or Soapopular is beyond me. After my visit, I spent 2 days in bed, trying to recover.

Am I preaching to the choir here? Probably. Do I honestly think that this article will make everyone stop using products that make me sick? Nope. But if I have empowered even one person to change their ways, my ability to breathe just became that little bit easier.

Renzo's latest masterpiece!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I knew it was coming. It was only a matter of time. But I had truly hoped I would never see the day. Unfortunately that day is now here...

I can't eat ice cream anymore. After one or two teaspoons, I start to wheeze and choke. I've accepted that I will never have flowers again. I've accepted that I will sound like a space alien for ever. But to take away my ability to eat ice cream? That's just plain mean!

This better not expand to my beloved cuppa tea. That would mean war for sure!