Lab Cat

4 Feb 2009

Sensitivities

Filed under: Health — Tags: , , , , — Cat @ 8:27 am

Last year sometime, Molecule of a Day posted on Limonene, which I was interested to read because it is an important flavoring in citrus and considered to be an off-flavor product in the storage of ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

The last paragraph asks:

Green or not, limonene isn’t totally safe. You can actually get sensitized to it – essentially developing an allergy – and then you’re in the unpleasant position of being allergic to citrus peels. Careful lab technique and a certain amount of luck have allowed me to avoid sensitization to any lab chemicals. And that’s a great thing – everyone I’ve talked to who was appreciably sensitized to a chemical said it seemed to turn up EVERYWHERE after that.

Now, I have been tested for allergies and have no response.  Those skin prick tests – Nada, rien, zilch, nothing.  But I still sneeze when peeling oranges or when using Citrasolv for cleaning. I have other sensitivities too – hyacinths were the first I noticed. The hyacinth  story goes:

Back when I was a teenager, Mum gave me a hyacinth for my room.  I got a bad cold.  Hyacinth died.  I got better.  I was sad because I had missed the hyacinth.  So Mum gave me another;  cold came back.  I can now smell hyacinths ~100 m away.

Feathers in pillows murder sleep.  How can a hotel run out of hypoallergenic pillows?

Honeysuckle flowers take away the enjoyment of being in the garden and they grow like weeds in my garden.

Tea Tree Oil:  Shampoo is a nightmare – it all seems to contain sodium lauryl sulfate which makes my head itch, and tea tree oil and/or citrus oils.  It took me a couple of months to realize that one of the reasons I was waking up in the night snuffly was because my shampoo had tree oil in it and this was getting on the pillows and from there up my nose.  In fact, I would rather have citrus shampoo than tea tree oil.  But why cannot shampoo makers produce a scent-free sodium lauryl sulfate -free shampoo.  Even kids’ shampoos are too highly scented for me.

Some of my sensitivities may have developed because my PhD research was with sulphites;  well known allergy and asthma triggers.  My advisor used to joke that when I drank wine, and sneezed, we could determine the sulphite concentration by the number of sneezes. Also, if I spilt any sulphite powder, I had to go outside and get a lungful of fresh air before being able to clear up the mess.

PS To all airline passengers sitting near to me,

I do not have a cold.  If you were not wearing so much scent I would be fine.  There is no need to complain, within my hearing, that you have caught some dreaded disease and people with colds should not be allowed to travel.  I was fine until I sat NEXT TO YOU 🙂

Luv LabCat

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2 Comments »

  1. A-men. I”m so sick of people drowning themselves in perfume and then sitting next to me on the train. Fragrance sensitivity is a complete pain. I’m lucky that I work with people who are respectful of mine.

    Comment by Amy — 15 Feb 2009 @ 12:24 pm

  2. Fragrance is a migraine trigger too. Don’t know why people feel compelled to drown themselves in it. A little may not be bad but some people seem to use tons.

    Comment by Zuska — 2 Mar 2009 @ 9:37 pm


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