I am seriously, seriously, seriously sensitive to artificial odors, industrial chemicals, pesticides, and the like.

If I eat artificial preservatives in food, I suffer GI distress, headaches, emotional upheaval, and sometimes all of the above.

If I smell or take in environmental chemicals like fertilizer, dry cleaning fluids, or even perfumes, I can suffer migraines, more GI distress, a sense of surreality, panic attacks, sweating, and a host of other symptoms.

If the highly controversial “multiple chemical sensitivities” diagnosis exists, I have it.

(Clinicians may tell you it’s quackery. They haven’t lived in my body, though, and felt what I have felt.)

Chances are, some of the detoxification mechanisms that are supposed to occur in my body don’t function properly. I actually have some independent verification on this from a few tests I have had run.

Given that this is my truth, I take great strides to limit my exposure to these things that irritate me. I am excruciatingly careful with what goes in and on my body. I cannot, under any circumstances, stand in a conventional big box or supermarket cleaning solution aisle without suffering immensely. (I hold my breath and haul ass at Costco where the paper towels sit adjacent to the dishwashing chemicals.) My loved ones know not to wear perfume around me, and I have had to tell babysitters to avoid using it on days they come to my house.

Then there was the time my (Aveda, no less!) hairstylist decided to add some highlights … . Let’s just say that she never finished applying the solution, and the salon manager insisted on staying with me for an hour after the incident. She wanted to drive me home but by then I was fine.

I’ve had to adjust my lifestyle to accommodate my reality, and I thought I would share with you all some of the ways I’ve done it for our household.

And just to be clear, I am not getting one red cent from these folks for writing about them. I’m sharing the good word because I want others who face issues like mine can either reach out to them or find (or start up!) similar companies in their own areas.

Dry Cleaning

I feel very blessed to have found a branch of the OXXO Care Cleaners in Atlanta.

OXXO uses the GreenEarth cleaning system:

The GreenEarth brand name refers to an exclusive dry cleaning process that replaces the petrochemical solvents traditionally used in dry cleaning with liquid silicone. Liquid silicone is an odorless, colorless solution that is an excellent carrier for detergents, has ideal properties for fabric care and is better for the environment.

I’m going to be honest – I don’t know enough to fairly evaluate their “green” claims. What I do know is that when I wear clothes that they have cleaned, I don’t get sick. Our items are completely odorless. That plus the 24-hour dry cleaning “ATM” means that I am willing to travel across town once every two weeks to fetch my clothes.

Lawn Care

Beyond my inability to tolerate fertilizers and pesticides, I don’t want poisons on the yard where my kids play for hours. Luckily, I found Simply Organic Turf Care.

Here’s what they’re about:

Simply Organic Turf Care was founded by green industry professionals that had one common goal in mind… safety for our children, animals and environment. Our backgrounds are in the golf industry, organic industry, and we are homeowners with families and pets, just like you. It was obvious to us that using chemicals in our yard every 5-7 weeks was not what we wanted. Again, our main concern was to help shield our children and pets from unnecessary chemical usage around our homes.

My technician, Adam, had a long career in golf course maintenance and knows his grass. He transformed our front yard from clover-laden to weed free and grassy. Granted, the transformation took longer than it would have if we’d opted for a more traditional route. But for me, that wasn’t an option.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to pop her head out the window to say hello when her lawn guy shows up and have him say, “Hey there! Just out spreading chicken manure today!”

Pest Control

When we moved into our house in 2003, I told my husband I didn’t want any conventional pest control treatments used.

Now, for you folks who don’t live in the South, I need to take a moment to bring you up to speed on this. Here in Georgia, we grow cockroaches. And we grow them BIG.

(Pest control is pretty much a must.)

Thank goodness for the folks at Grassroots Turf / Greenhouse Pest Management. (They’ve recently merged.) They use things like vanilla, wintergreen, borax, and other natural repellents to keep the bugs at bay.

I’m not going to lie, our home is not as pest free as it would be if we used a traditional pest control company. And, I’m okay with that. But, as the mom of one of Ws friends … who (ahem) also has a Ph.D. in Epidemiology … says, “If your home is 100% free of nasty critters, then you’ve got a toxic environment going on. Because what it takes to kill all of those pests just can’t be good for us.”

Incidentally, I tried to photograph a cockroach to illustrate this blog, but those suckers move at lightning speed. Tee hee.

3 Responses to “Chemical Overload : Detoxing My Lifestyle”

  1. on 23 Jan 2014 at 12:46 pmVictoria

    Great info about OXXO Cleaners! Thanks Kristine for sharing!

  2. on 23 Jan 2014 at 1:44 pmKristine Rudolph

    Absolutely! I forgot to mention, they are also really nice! 😉

  3. on 23 Jan 2014 at 5:48 pmTova

    That ATM-style pick-up: amazing, no? And not far from me – a bonus. Definitely trying them next time. Excited to have a stench-free dry cleaning option…

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