Take a Deep Breath –
Safely Air purifiers can make a world of difference. Not the $55 ones made of glue and plastic, though. Aside from your bed, this is will probably your major purchase. We use ones by Foust. We have an apartment with a living room/gallery kitchen/bathroom with one air purifier and a bedroom with the other. Another Canary uses a NIKKAN, but some Canaries have had trouble with the citrus smell. Others use one by Austin Air, a company that became very popular with New Yorkers after 9-11 poisoned the air, and IQAir. A lot of Canaries have trouble with activated carbon or types of activated carbon so before making a huge purchase ask for samples. A Japanese study showed that black or green tea bags can absorb 60 to 90% of the Formaldehyde gases in a room. I don’t know how many they used.
House plants are air purifiers. NASA did a study about plants for cleaning up toxic poisons and more have been recently conducted. These are some of the most powerful: Bamboo Palm Areca Palm Lady Palm Rubber Plant Janet Craig/Dracaena Ficus Al Date Palm Peace Lily Spider Plant Weeping Fig Philodendron Gerbera Daisies Chrysanthemums English Ivy If you have animals living with you please check for toxicity, as many common houseplants are poisonous for animal companions. We hung all our spider plants from the ceiling so Max the Cat (RIP) could not munch on them. Many Canaries develop hay fever so trust your nose!
You already know that your clothing needs to be fragrance free. Unscented does not mean fragrance free. It means that there was fragrance used and then they hid it with more chemicals. Sneaky. (Note: Dr Bronner’s castile unscented soaps actually are fragrance free.) There are many safe brands on the market like 7th Generation or ECOS that work, or Dr Bronner’s with some baking soda added. To make towels and jeans softer, adding some distilled white vinegar to the wash water works, but some Canaries must avoid vinegar. There are also laundry soap nuts, a sustainable resource. Some Canaries can handle Arm and Hammer Free and Clear, but we cannot. Public laundromats are off limits. For MCS disabled people, they are not assessable due to the barrier of fabric softeners and cleaning products wafting in the air. Also you might lose all your clothing like my family did by using a dryer that someone must have used a dryer sheet in that we didn’t notice the smell of since we were so inTOXICicated already. If you buy a washing machine, do not get a used one, for who knows what they used? Miniwashers are relatively inexpensive. Hand washing is helped with a clothing plunger or wash board in a metal wash tub or garbage can. Wood or metal racks for drying clothes are easy to find. If you want to wring hand washing dry you can buy clothing wringers or mop ones (much cheaper but more work) – just make sure all metal and safe wood! No plastics! A fan and/or dehumidifier you can tolerate placed by the drying rack helps speed the process up. Sun and fresh air freshen, soften and bleach drying clothes. Make sure your outside area really IS fresh air, however, or you have to rewash. If you have clothing or linens ruined by fragrance, you can try hanging it outside for several months. The rain, sun and wind might help make it safe, says one Canary who rescued a wool coat this way.
Make It Yourself Cleaning Products
There are many books and online sites about nontoxic, natural cleaning. See Resources. Stay away from green house guides with recycled plastic solutions. Many eco-friendly products are not canary-safe. Many cleaning recipes call for distilled or white vinegar. Some Canaries cannot be exposed to that. (Ditto for essential oils.) Sadly the white or distilled vinegar our great-grandparents knew is not what we have on the shelves unless we are paying more for organic and properly aged. The FDA allows it to be synthetic ethanol and it won’t be labeled that. Also it can be made in 22 hours. It is not the same thing available 60 years ago. I thought this may be why white distilled vinegar makes us ill. However, we respond terribly to organic apple cider vinegar as well. We use baking soda, Dr Bronner’s unscented castile soap, 7th Generation, Bon Ami scrub, organic olive oil and real lemons for our cleaning, with rags we wash. Unlike every friend I have, I actually dust. Dusting seems to have gone out the window n the 1980s. Since MCS can develop into asthma and/or allergies and the CO poisoning gave me respiratory issues and I already had vasomotor Rhinusitis, I clean as if I have asthma already. Our vacuum cleaner made a horrid burning rubber poison as did one of our new plastic fans. A carpet sweeper saved the day. Metal fans are available, usually labeled as industrial and retro.
Home Repair and Renovation
I haven’t done any home renovations as I am a renter and never built a house, so for information on that you will need to look elsewhere. When my landlord repainted the upstairs apartment after I got the drug dealers to move out, I helped pay for the no VOC paints he used, and I donated the cleaning supplies that I can tolerate. (Yet I wasn’t prepared for the cleaning crew to chain smoke.) There are many books on green building, but remember eco-friendly is not necessarily canary-safe. Check the Resources page and explore books, online groups, etc. Get some books for Do-It-Yourself home repair and maintenance plus some decent tools. Even as an apartment dweller, you need an auger snake for your toilet because you do not want plumbers entering your nest. Not only will their clothes be toxic, so will their tools and products. Basic fix it skills may save your safe home from contamination.
Electromagnetic Fields and WiFi
Even though I do not have EMF sensitivity, I am working to reduce the EMFs in my life. One reason is that I believe EMF Sensitives, like me with MCS, are telling an important truth. I am going to listen. The other reason is that if my getting rid of WiFi means that someone else might not have a migraine and that bees can return to pollinate the fruit trees, isn’t that the least I can do? I can use an Ethernet cord with my laptop. I can have a phone with a cord. That’s not a big deal. To not do that makes me a hypocrite. I still as a disabled woman who cannot drive and cannot walk very well or very far probably will need a cell phone of some kind for emergencies, but it can be powered off 99.9% of the time. I use aluminum foil to seal up cracks in doors and other ways that neighboring apartment toxins can seep into my nest. I did wrap some off gassing power cords in the foil as well and have read that this increases the EMF probably as the foil conducts electricity.
Carpet – Just Say No
When we found one apartment, the landlord wanted to re-carpet. I said no because I back then did a lot of art and didn’t want to worry about paint on the floors. Thank goodness Mom told him not to! Carpet is terrible for you. The EPA poisoned its own employees with new carpeting. A movie was made about it. Of course the apartment had a massive flood he did not mention, so there is mold everywhere and the water I am suspecting has reactivated some adhesive nightmare, but really, no carpet is the best, almost mandatory for Canaries.
Tall Cool Glass of Water – is it safe?
We have a shower head that removes chlorine from the water, which usually cost about $20, along with a Berkey filter (we are very sensitive to chlorine) and Berkey water filters for drinking and cooking water. Shower curtains are a problem. Vinyl ones have been known to be so dangerous that a few years recommendations were made that they be banned. Nylon ones you can wash are synthetic and made me irritable and groggy in the shower. You do not want to fall in the shower! I collapsed and have no memory of how I got to bed after opening a bottle of “natural” shampoo that had fragrance. It terrifies me to remember that. So we got an organic hemp one. Rawganique often has seconds with minor defects in the Specials section of their website. We went a while without a shower curtain using the hand held spray nozzle and it was not hard. I use aluminum foil to seal up cracks in doors and other ways that neighboring apartment toxins can seep into my nest. I did wrap some off gassing power cords in the foil as well and have read that this increases the EMF probably as the foil conducts electricity.
Keeping the Outside Toxins Outside When Someone Including You Enters the Nest
Outside by the front door is a metal lidded garbage can where people drop their shoes and coats and purses. When we come home, we get undressed inside the door, throw our clothing in a 6 gallon metal pail with a lid. We then rinse off in the shower and get into clean clothing. This is because there were a few times where something in the outside world attached to our thick hair and clothing’s fabric, thus contaminating the apartment. Mail is an issue. Mom wears her mask in the post office and gets our packages and mail. (Where I live there is no home mail delivery.) Mail uses ink that makes us sick, so it goes in a metal tool box. At home, a window screen covers the open pail so the mail can air out. Mail is read with gloves and mask on outside. (We now have an offgas/ink room where I do the same thing, but stay warm in winter.) Packages have their toxic packaging removed at the post office and are put in a 13 gallon stainless steel garbage can with a lid, then aired out or rinsed off outside.