Last update: 12-Dec-2013 4:02 am
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Something IS going to kill you
“You shouldn’t drink that,’’ the burly policeman at the door of my office building said.
I felt as if the bottle of diet cola in my fist had morphed into a bundle of marijuana.
“Er, duh, blah, blah, blah,’’ I stammered.
He ran through the evils of aspatarme, the demon sugar substitute used in diet drinks which has been linked with cancer in rats.
“I know, I know,’’ I repeated, stupidly. “Won’t happen again,’’ I lied.
After inflicting his random act of kindness on me, he let me off with a frown and a warning.
Geez. There goes one of the last few innocent pleasures in my life. Is nothing safe any more?
When I was child, the big scares were polio and cooking in aluminium pots. Now death lurks in every coffee cup, detergent bottle, and petrochemical. I am newly afraid of my shower curtain, having discovered that the icky chemical in the plastic called phthalates can wreck hormones, cause abnormal breast development and destroy brain cells.
Which is worse—the stinky mildew in my grout or the foamy poison cleaner I use to get rid of it? Do I resort to bicarbonate of soda to brush my teeth or risk finding out 20 years from now that toothpaste interferes with my chakras and causes deformities in baby lab rats?
I blame the Internet for all this. Now bad news is so accessible. Oh, for my fool’s paradise when the worst thing I knew about the health traps of the universe was that too much red meat was bad for you.
My recent hypochondria comes quite by accident. There I was happily pursuing Macy’s One-Day Online Sale when I was diverted to a post on hidden health threats.
For no more than the price of my sanity, I obtained information I did not know I needed until I became a quivering, blubbering mass on the floor. The only reason I was able to uncurl myself from foetal position and stagger to my knees was the thought that I had just mopped the floor with dangerous chemicals which could be soaking into my pores as I lay there wondering how long it would take to build an eco-safe doomsday tower.
I am living in a death trap. The dryer sheets used in my laundry contains synthetic fragrances including benzyl acetate and other carcinogenic toxins. The oven cleaner that makes the gooey black mess disappear with a wipe of a damp cloth is releasing the neuro-toxic solvent butane.
Good thing I have never been a fan of carpets (vacuuming is for suckers) because all those anti-stain ingredients and perky new-carpet smell come at a price—phenylcyclohexene which is linked with visual, nasal and respiratory destabilisation.
The glue used in the particle-board cupboards is wreaking havoc with my nervous system, which might explain why I have been so crabby for the last 30 years or so.
Should I move to a cave on a desert island in the Pacific? Walk barefoot, brush my teeth with a twig and crushed leaves, wear a sarong made from woven hemp, and live to 100?
You know what? The minute I hang up my shingle outside the cave and settle down to a peaceful night, free of nightmares of poison silently coursing through my liver, some helpful soul will send me a message in a bottle: “The Minister of Health has warned that clean air contains oxygen, an overdose of which can damage your lungs. Breathe responsibly.”
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