by Barbara Harris
UPdate Fall 2001
is severely chemically sensitive and approaches home renovations with extreme
never to assume anything when it comes to home renovation or repair, especially
if I'm doing something which can't be easily undone. My worst experience
was with a clear coat product for floors, which claimed to be specifically
for people with chemical sensitivities. I had used another clear
coat product from the same company successfully and assumed they would
be basically the same. Wrong! The consequences of that mistake were serious.
My health, which was already bad, got much worse. And it took three
years before I could use the room I had renovated.
to test absolutely everything which I bring into my house. Some things
which are problematic to me can be made tolerable by washing them with
TSP and rinsing them. This removes oily coatings and other residues.
This year I got up my nerve to renovate
my kitchen. It took a tremendous amount of time and energy to plan
for it. I found that I could tolerate Pratt and Lambert Accolade paint
but not most of the tints. A friend suggested I use Liquitex Artist's
Acrylics (which I tested colour by colour) and tint the paint myself.
For crack-filling I used Murco joint compound, which has no additives or
preservatives which I ordered from the US. I used Waterworks acrylic based
clearcoat for the floor. I sealed the room off from the rest of the house,
opened windows and set up a fan to insure that air circulated well and
didn't leak into the rest of the house. I hired someone who didn't
smoke or use scented products. I left the house while work was being done
and for a week after to reduce the risk of becoming more sensitive to the
products. Then I kept the room sealed off and the fan going for several
weeks more. This renovation was a success. I did not get sicker.
By the end of a month I could use the kitchen a bit, and after two months
I was able to use it normally. For me this is almost a miracle. And
finally I have some colour in my house again.