Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Update #4 on toxic poisoning

I've continued to do research about this issue regarding my reactions to polymer clay - more specifically, the chemical phthalates which is IN the clay. I have a couple of other symptoms to add to my symptom list which I didn't attribute to this, but may be involved.

When I went to the eye doctor, one thing I mentioned was the corner of my right eye had been red since this began at the beginning of March. The eye did not itch, did not have puss, did not hurt, did not water was just really red. After his exam, he indicated it could be from dry eye and he gave me drops to use. I began using the drops, but the eye stayed red - until I quit working with the polymer clay. Only then did the redness begin to go away and it's finally almost completely gone.

I also told the eye doctor I had become very sensitive to light and sound since all this started in early March. I asked if that could be from my eyes. He said the dry eye could cause some light sensitivity, but didn't seem to think it would cause sound sensitivity. I have learned since there is something called "toxic conjunctivitis". I've had conjunctivitis (pink eye) in the past, but toxic conjunctivitis is is caused by a reaction to a toxin, and doesn't seem to have the same traits as pink eye.

I noticed when I stopped working with the clay, light and sound didn't bother me as much. As stated in a previous post, I touched the clay last Saturday when cleaning up my studio, and on Sunday at church, the singing and church lights seemed to still bother me....the noise seemed to bother me the worst. I felt tingly, shaky, woozy. Rather than exiting the auditorium as I had done the previous weeks, I decided to stay, and I put my fingers over my ears. Within a minute of doing that, I felt a little better - well enough to keep standing along with everyone else. I took my fingers off my ears and the feelings increased again. So I did this little experiment all through the singing and decided it was definitely the sound I was most sensitive to.

This week will be another experiment...I have not touched the clay since last Saturday (and have been feeling fine since), so I will see this upcoming Sunday if I have the same reaction in the singing part of the service....or if it is less than before. I do know when I was NOT working with the polymer initially when I started attending this church, I was not bothered at all by the sound or lights there.

So, my list of symptoms now reads like this: Nausea, dizziness, passing out, numbness in legs, weak/wobbly legs, feeling of being "off balance", tingling all over, tightness in head & cheeks, and chest pains (those last two could have been from panic...but I had them so I'm listing them). I also experienced blurry vision, occasional metallic taste in mouth, light sensitivity, red eye, sound sensitivity. Amber Dawn, who commented on one of my previous posts, said she also experiences "strange twitching".

Over the past months, I had been working with the clay much more than before. I feel sure my reactions to the chemical in it are due to overexposure. It's like you can drink a little coffee, and feel fine...but if you drink more and more of it, you can have reactions to the caffeine. So while I was only using the clay for a short time, I was fine, but the more and more I worked with it, the more my reactions became more prevalent.

I think this is something heavy users of the product need to be aware of, so they can take precautions. I'm sure there are some people who use the clay regularly, who will assume because they've used it for a long time with no reaction, that they won't have any issues. And they might not...but when the reaction happens, it can appear just out of the blue, very quickly, and intensely.

As I said before, I have used the product for 7 years and while I have had breaks during my use of it, it has pretty much been a constant in my life throughout that time period. And I had no warning...when the symptoms hit, they hit immediately. The first night was the first week of March, I was standing in my living room right before bed time, and I broke out in a cold sweat, got shaky, dizzy and felt myself getting ready to pass out. That was my very first clue I had something going on. Two days later, my eye became red out of the blue. That was my second clue. And it went downhill from there.

So it can appear out of the blue, and very intensely. If you are a heavy user of the product, why take chances? Use gloves, as others have suggested. Put your oven outdoors or in an extremely well ventilated area.

I think the public needs to be more educated on this stuff too. Just because something says "non toxic", we think it's not going to cause any issues. And it might not -- but the fact is, it CAN despite what the label says. I've learned that the hard way, and I'll be a lot more aware of these things in my future endeavors.


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