Your Personal Oasis Against Chemicals

Creating a refuge against chemicals make it easier for highly sensitive people to tolerate exposure to the rest of the chemical ridden world. What’s more, a personal oasis shores you up psychologically as well as physically, giving you confidence to venture out.

Dr. McGovern tell his chemically patients: ”Select any bedroom in the house and make it ’chemically clean.’ It's not hard to do. Remove the pictures from the walls. Take down all the drapes. Take out the rugs and carpeting. If there’s hardwood flooring under the carpeting, so much the better.

If not, it's best to cover the floor with ceramic tile. If ceramic tile is not available or too expensive, you may also use very inexpensive, hard vinyl tiles.” The expensive ones? ”The least expensive, self sticking tiles tend to be harder and less toxic than the more expensive products. Take my word for it,” says Dr. McGovern.

”Next,” he adds, ”you take out all the furniture. Use an aluminum bed with springs – a folding cot – to sleep on. Instead of mattress, use several 100 percent plain cotton blankets. Wash them six or seven times in baking soda to remove any chemical treatment. Layer them to serve as a mattress.” For a pillow, Dr. McGovern recommends cotton T-shirts, rolled up and stuffed into a washed, cotton pillowcase.

A pretty spartan sleeping arrangement. But Dr. McGovern has a good reason to recommended it: ”Mattresses contain flame retardant chemicals, require by the government. Formaldehyde and pesticides are also employed in their manufacture,” he says. ”If chemically sensitive people sleep on a mattress, they’ll never get better.”

For other furniture, Dr. McGovern recommend nothing more than this: ”Go to a flea market or yard sale and buy two wooden chairs – the kind you often see for $10 a piece. While you’re there, scout around for a bureau of the $25 variety. Finished furniture is okay, as long as it's a few years old and the fumes from paint or stain have had time to dissipate.

And be sure to ask it it's been sprayed with pesticides. If it has been, don’t buy it. If not, you’re safe.” Do people actually make these kind of changes in their homes? ”Nearly 400 of our patients are sleeping on metal beds,” says Dr. McGovern, ”and making nice recoveries.” ”I’ve had 3,500 patients get rid of their gas stoves,” says Dr. Randolph.

William J. Rea, M.D., of Dallas, Texas, who has treated thousands of environmentally allergic people, adds, ”We don’t recommended anything people won’t do. It would be a waste of time.” Taking the gas stove out the kitchen and ripping out the carpeting at home are pretty much within our control. But what about going to work? Or traveling? Again, there’s more you can do about these situations than you might think.