Search This Blog

Monday, 29 November 2010

Cleaning The Air

From Environmental Health News in the USA is a long, but easy and welcome reading item of key interest.


Household cleaners will be reformulated to clean up California smog
Kitchen cleaners, glass sprays and other household cleaning products will be reformulated to reduce smog-forming compounds under a new regulation adopted

It's the equivalent of removing half a million cars from California roads and will cost manufacturers about $50 million. The new, cleaner products, numbering about 2,000, are likely to be offered nationally.

By Marla ConeEditor in ChiefEnvironmental Health News

About 2,000 household cleaning products will be reformulated to reduce smog-forming compounds under a new regulation adopted Thursday in California.

The rule will trigger a new, mandatory wave of “green” products, including window cleaners, general purpose cleaning sprays, degreasers, oven cleaners, metal polishes, furniture sprays, heavy-duty hand soaps and spot removers.

Household cleaners, which contain highly reactive solvents known as VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are a substantial source of smog. The new standards will reduce emissions by nearly 7 tons per day, which is the equivalent of removing half a million cars from California’s roads.

Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, said the new rule, adopted unanimously by the board, will require companies to sell cleaners “that are effective but safe for the environment.”

Manufacturers will spend an estimated $50 million to comply with the requirements, which will be phased in over the next three years, according to an air board report. The cost to consumers will range from “no cost or negligible” for glass cleaners to 44 cents for a heavy-duty hand-cleaning soap, according to a board report.

At a hearing in Sacramento on Thursday, manufacturers of the products told the board that they support the new limits even though they will be difficult to achieve.

They are “very aggressive” and will require “very serious and costly reformulation challenges,” said Joe Yost of the Consumer Specialty Products Assn., a trade group that represents companies that manufacture the products. Still, he told the board, “we support most of the VOC limits.”

The state rule is expected to prompt nationwide reformulation of household cleaning products, since companies say it’s often more cost-effective to redesign all products than produce a separate set for California.

Many household cleaners already comply with the new restrictions, which limit the amount of VOCs in the products based on their category. For example, 69 percent of today's general purpose cleaners meet the new limit. For some products, however, it's a bigger challenge; only 10 percent of glass cleaners and furniture cleaners currently have low enough VOC content to comply.

Since the 1970s, California, facing a severe smog problem, has adopted the world’s most aggressive emission standards for a variety of sources, including cars, trucks, consumer products, paints and factories.

Most of the cleaning products already have faced two other rounds of regulation from the California air board over the past 20 years. The earlier rules already have eliminated nearly half of the VOC emissions from California’s consumer products. But they still emit 245 tons per day, or 12 percent of all the VOCs in the state’s air.

California, along with many other states, faces a federal mandate to reduce ozone, the main ingredient of smog, which aggravates asthma, reduces lung function and has other serious health effects.

Carla Takemoto, manager of the air board’s technical evaluation section, said manufacturers are expected to shift to surfactants to replace the VOCs. Found in soaps and shampoos, surfactants are compounds that reduce surface tension when mixed with water, allowing water to do much of the cleaning without strong solvents.

They are large molecules, so they have low volatility and don’t contribute to smog, she said.

“We expect to see increased use of surfactant technologies, which we think is a very viable option,” Takemoto said. “Surfactants tend to be more expensive chemicals than some of the other solvents. But because you use such a small amount of them, it’s still pretty cost-effective to use them.”

For some products, however, surfactants don’t work well. A representative of Stoner Inc., which manufactures a product called Invisible Glass, said surfactants leave streaks and haze on windows
Meeting the new standards “will not be easy,” but the company supported them, saying they “reflect the state of technology for years to come.” Yost of the industry group said the most challenging limits will be for spray floor cleaners that are used with special, lightweight mops and the heavy-duty hand cleaners.

The companies are struggling to make a spray floor cleaner that can meet the standards without leaving slippery residue left by surfactants, he said.

In the new rule, the board banned alkyphenol surfactants as substitutes for the smog-causing compounds because they are estrogen-like substances that can harm aquatic life when discharged into waterways. Alkyphenols are used in some detergents.

In their staff report, air board officials also expressed concern that some manufacturers of glass and floor cleaners and other products may switch to glycol ethers, which are exempt from the rule. A health study published last month linked glycol ethers to asthma and allergies in children.

But Takemoto said glycol ethers probably won’t be used much because they aren’t very effective cleaners and they evaporate slowly, which leaves a residue. She said the air board will watch over industry to monitor glycol ethers.

"If use were to increase we would again evaluate whether mitigation measures would be necessary," said air board spokesman Dimitri Stanich.

State officials decades ago decided to exempt glycol ethers from state smog rules because they have low volatility and don't contribute much to smog. On the other hand, air-quality officials in the Los Angeles region don't exempt them.

As a result, glycol ethers are limited in paints, which are regulated by the Los Angeles board, but not in household cleaners.

Environmental groups said they will work with the air board next year in an attempt to regulate glycol ethers.

Generally, the groups welcomed the smog-reducing restrictions, saying it will have the added benefit of improving indoor air.

“Precedent-setting regulations such as these will supply consumers with the safer products that they deserve and demand,” said Luis Cabrales, deputy director of campaigns at the Coalition for Clean Air.

“Although consumers may have difficulty drawing a connection between household cleaning products and smog…the cumulative use of these products by more than 39 million Californians results in significant emissions,” he said.

Pedro Guzman, a car washer in Los Angeles, told the board on Thursday that he has experienced skin rashes and respiratory problems from his use of window and metal cleaners six days a week. He said he supports the rules because they mean he will face fewer health risks and have a cleaner environment.

The California board must still eliminate more emissions from consumer products by the end of 2013 under its state air plan, which is enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. New rules targeting a minimum of four more tons per day are expected to be proposed next year.


As for the UK, if only………..

Friday, 26 November 2010

Phones, Tattoos & Piercing

Some or parts of this article from Science News may be picked up in other media but the full text is interesting. My personal interest lies in the last section.

All I can add is that whilst studies and articles like this have to deal with matters separately in reality there is likely to be complex interactions.

This will arise from the way the body is attempting to deal with a series of invasive elements. When this occurs at the same time as other stresses and often either infections or virus problems the effects will be enhanced.

The result in some cases will be long term consequences of one sort or another.


Science News

Hold the Phone: Prolonged Cell Use Can Trigger Allergic Reaction, as Can Body Piercing, Tattoos and Cosmetics (from ScienceDaily (Nov. 21, 2010)

Chatting endlessly on your cell phone can lead to an allergic reaction to the nickel in your phone, according to allergists at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) in Phoenix, Nov. 11-16.

From cosmetics to jewelry, body piercings to tattoos, allergies can lurk in unlikely places, allergists say.

"Increased use of cell phones with unlimited usage plans has led to more prolonged exposure to the nickel in phones," said allergist Luz Fonacier, MD, ACAAI Fellow. "Patients come in with dry, itchy patches on their cheeks, jaw lines and ears and have no idea what is causing their allergic reaction."

Nickel is one of the most common contact allergens, and affects up to 17 percent of women and 3 percent of men. Contact with objects containing nickel, such as keys, coins and paper clips are generally brief, so the nickel allergy may not occur on the area of contact.

However, even in these brief encounters, nickel can be transferred from fingers to the face and cause eyelid irritation. The risk is increased by frequent, prolonged exposure to nickel-containing objects, such as cell phones, jewelry, watches, and eyeglass frames.

"Allergists are seeing increasing numbers of nickel allergy among patients," said Dr. Fonacier. "Some researchers suggest that there should be more nickel regulation in the U.S. like there is in some European countries."

Symptoms include redness, swelling, itching, eczema, blistering, skin lesions and sometimes oozing and scarring. Avoidance of direct skin contact is the best solution.

For cell phones, try using a plastic film cover, a wireless ear piece, or switching to a phone that does not contain metal on surfaces that contact the skin, suggests Dr. Fonacier. However, identifying the allergen and avoiding it is the only long term solution.

Body Piercings & Tattoos

You can also have an allergic reaction to your body art (piercing and tattoos). Twenty-four percent of people 18 to 50 years old have tattoos and 14 percent have body piercings.

"Allergic reactions from tattoos come mainly from the pigments used to color the dye," said Dr. Fonacier. "The issue with body piercing goes back to the increasing prevalence of nickel allergies.

Some researchers suggest we delay introduction of ear piercing until children are older than 10 years."


"It's well known that our everyday cosmetic products contain many substances that cause allergies," said Dr. Fonacier. "Although the cosmetic industry is one of the largest in the world, it is not highly regulated in the U.S.

The average person uses 12 personal products a day. Those 12 products may contain up to 168 chemicals, many of which can be an irritant or a substance that causes an allergic reaction."

Nearly 22 percent of everyone patch tested for allergies react to chemicals in cosmetics, according to Dr. Fonacier. Fragrance and preservatives contained in cosmetics cause the most allergic reactions.

Common allergy symptoms from cosmetics include: redness, itching, crusting, swelling, blistering, dryness, scaliness and thickening of the skin.

Those who suspect they have allergies to cosmetics, tattoos or nickel should be tested by an allergist, a doctor who is an expert in diagnosing and treating allergies and asthma.

Editor's Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


I was going to joke about not using the cell phone in the shower but it would not be in good taste.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Expecting A Delivery?

The two links below were sent by a contact and it does not need much more to be said about their meaning and the implications. Clearly the more chemically based products and strong substances you use the greater the potential effect.

But I repeat my view concerning how much worse it is all getting. The products are stronger, have more impact, are more pervasive, carry greater distances and have become almost impossible to avoid in just getting about.

Even if a mother to be was making every effort to contain her personal use the odds against avoidance or contamination are huge. In my view the content of these perfume/fragrances may be worse in effect on the embryos than tobacco and even alcohol.

Should one of the health priorities be a full toxicological check with follow up advice and support for mothers in the early stage of pregnancy?

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Brain Games

Checking out my mail listings, I came across this one from 2009. I may have made use of it before and sent it on to others. Also it came from a contact.

The article is a summary of a complex research paper. The basic premise is that MCS is a brain (neurological) issue that is chemical in effect. Chemicals may impact on the brain in various ways.

They may enter the bloodstream by one means or another. They may come through the skin, despite the protestations of cosmetic and personal product makers. They may come via the lungs, in that humans breath.

Breathing in humans is something else heavily discounted by makers except for those of fragrances.

They need breathing humans to sell their stuff. But the makers insist that the sense of smell in breathing cannot impact adversely on the brain or if it does only in a way that conveys either pleasure or the release of the urge to mate.

Or something.


Pro Health Library

Brain dysfunction in Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.

Source: Journal of the Neurological Sciences, Oct 2, 2009

by Ramon Orriols, et al. - October 13, 2009

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is a chronic acquired disorder of unknown pathogenesis.

The aim of this study was to ascertain whether MCS patients present brain single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and psychometric scale changes after a chemical challenge.This procedure was performed with chemical products at non-toxic concentrations in 8 patients diagnosed with MCS and in their healthy controls.• In comparison to controls, cases presented basal brain SPECT hypoperfusion [decreased blood flow] in small cortical areas of the right parietal and both temporal and fronto-orbital lobes.• After chemical challenge, cases showed hypoperfusion in the olfactory, right and left hippocampus, right parahippocampus, right amygdala, right thalamus, right and left Rolandic and right temporal cortex regions.• By contrast, controls showed hyperperfusion in the cingulus, right parahippocampus, left thalamus and some cortex regions.• The clustered deactivation pattern in cases was stronger than in controls (p=0.012) and the clustered activation pattern in controls was higher than in cases (p=0.012).• In comparison to controls, cases presented poorer quality of life and neurocognitive function at baseline, and neurocognitive worsening after chemical exposure.Chemical exposure caused neurocognitive impairment, and SPECT brain dysfunction particularly in odor-processing areas, thereby suggesting a neurogenic [nervous system] origin of MCS.Source: Journal of the Neurological Sciences, Oct 2, 2009. PMID: 19801154, by Orriols R, Costa R, Cuberas G, Jacas C, Castell J, Sunyer J. Servei de Pneumologia, Hospital Universitari Vall d' Hebron, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; CIBER Enfermedades Respiratorias (CIBERES), Spain. [E-mail:]


The increased power of many products in the last few years and with more to come must mean many more people will be affected. Any who are already affected will have more problems.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Headbanging For Head Bangers

It has been argued to me for some time now that a possible reason for the radical increase in teenage and younger heavy drinking is in the nature and marketing of many “soft” or “energy” drinks. Today these are complex products intended to have a major impact of those who consume them.

The case is that if a youngster becomes used to quantities of these it is only a short step to the mixer alcoholic drinks now common. As often these are based on spirits then the result is often high and increasing levels of intake.

The argument does not simply apply, however, to alcohol. There are many other synthetic products now on the market designed to have high impact on the brain.

Note these words, “risk”, “dependence”, “masks the feeling” and “impairment”.


Energy drink use may lead to alcohol dependence.

E! Science News
Tuesday, November 16, 2010 in Health & Medicine

Energy drinks are commonly consumed by teens and college students A new study shows that energy drink consumption is strongly associated with increased risks for heavy drinking and alcohol dependence

These results call for more scrutiny regarding the possible negative health effects of energy drinks and public education about the risks of consuming energy drinks with alcohol

A hallmark of college life is staying up late to study for an exam the following morning, and many students stay awake by consuming an energy drink. Also increasing in popularity is the practice of mixing alcohol with energy drinks.

But these drinks are highly caffeinated and can lead to other problems, in addition to losing sleep. Unfortunately, the contents of energy drinks are not regulated.

New research indicates that individuals who have a high frequency of energy drink consumption (52 or more times within a year) were at a statistically significant higher risk for alcohol dependence and episodes of heavy drinking.

The results will be published in the February 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

Amelia M. Arria, the lead author of the study, Director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, and a Senior Scientist at the Treatment Research Institute, said that prior research has highlighted the dangers of combining energy drinks with alcohol
"We were able to examine if energy drink use was still associated with alcohol dependence, after controlling for risk-taking characteristics. The relationship persisted and the use of energy drinks was found to be associated with an increase in the risk of alcohol dependence."

The study utilized data from more than 1,000 students enrolled at a public university who were asked about their consumption of energy drinks and their alcohol drinking behaviors within the past 12 months.

The researchers found that individuals who consumed energy drinks at a high frequency were more likely to get drunk at an earlier age, drink more per drinking session, and were more likely to develop alcohol dependence compared to both non-users of energy drinks and the low-frequency users.

The results of this study confirm and extend earlier research about the risks of energy drink consumption. A major concern is that mixing energy drinks with alcohol can lead to "wide-awake drunkenness," where caffeine masks the feeling of drunkenness but does not decrease actual alcohol-related impairment.

As a result, the individual feels less drunk than they really are, which could lead them to consume even more alcohol or engage in risky activities like drunk driving.

"Caffeine does not antagonize or cancel out the impairment associated with drunkenness, it merely disguises the more obvious markers of that impairment," says Kathleen Miller, a research scientist from the Research Institute on

Addictions at the University at Buffalo. According to her, the next steps in this research include identifying links between energy drinks and other forms of substance abuse, as well assessing the overall prevalence of energy drink use by adolescents and young adults.

"Also needed is research that directly assesses students' reported reasons for mixing alcohol and energy drinks.

Anecdotal reports suggest that part of this phenomenon may be driven by the perpetuation of myths (e.g., mixing alcohol and caffeine reduces drunkenness, prevents hangovers, or fools a breathalyzer test) that could be debunked through further education."

Arria agrees, adding that further research and regulations are needed to curb this disturbing trend.

"The fact that there is no regulation on the amount of caffeine in energy drinks or no requirements related to the labeling of contents or possible health risks is concerning."


This is about what can happen in the brain. It not simply psychology or drives, it is chemical effects on a highly complex biological system.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Imitation Is The Greatest Form Of Flattery

The item below is very difficult and needs a great deal of thought. It is extracts from the full article. What it tells us is that the science of applying nanotechnology to medicine and the delivery of drugs is well on the way to mimicking the way a virus works in affecting the human body.

Clearly, if this can be done for a medicine intended to assist the body, it can be done with substances designed for another purpose. The difference is that for the most part, medicines are regulated, are obliged to be tested and there is supervision and examination of the effects.

As we know there is a vast range of household and personal products that do not have any of these safeguards and are produced almost regardless of the costs to health in both the short and long term.


Virus-Inspired Design Principles of Nanoparticle-Based Bioagents

Hongyan Yuan, Changjin Huang, Sulin Zhang*
Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, United States of America


The highly effectiveness and robustness of receptor-mediated viral invasion of living cells shed lights on the biomimetic design of nanoparticle(NP)-based therapeutics.

Through thermodynamic analysis, we elucidate that the mechanisms governing both the endocytic time of a single NP and the cellular uptake can be unified into a general energy-balance framework of NP-membrane adhesion and membrane deformation.

Yet the NP-membrane adhesion strength is a globally variable quantity that effectively regulates the NP uptake rate. Our analysis shows that the uptake rate interrelatedly depends on the particle size and ligand density, in contrast to the widely reported size effect.

Our model predicts that the optimal radius of NPs for maximal uptake rate falls in the range of 25–30 nm, and optimally several tens of ligands should be coated onto NPs.

These findings are supported by both recent experiments and typical viral structures, and serve as fundamental principles for the rational design of NP-based nanomedicine.

In this article, we aim to establish guiding principles for the biomimetic design of NPs with high uptake rate, one of the key parameters that assess the efficacy of NP-based therapeutics.

Noting that correlating the biophysical parameters of NPs with the uptake rate may analytically be complex, we circumvent the difficulty by separately deriving the endocytic time of a single NP and the equilibrium cellular uptake when immersing the cell in a solution with dispersed NPs.

The endocytic time and cellular uptake together indicate the uptake rate. From thermodynamic analyses, we reveal that particle size and ligand density interrelatedly govern the uptake rate. The interrelated effects can be interpreted from a general framework of energy balance between NP-membrane adhesion and membrane deformation.

The interrelation suggests that tailoring only one design parameter may not be effective to achieve high uptake rate. We construct a phase diagram of the uptake rate in the space of particle size and ligand density, which may serve as a design map for NP-based therapeutics. Finally, we extend our discussions by including the effects of other relevant biophysical parameters.


Through thermodynamic analyses, we revealed that the endocytic time of a single NP and the cellular uptake when immersing the cell into a solution with dispersed NPs are governed by the unified framework of energy balance between adhesion and membrane deformation.

We established phase diagrams in the space of particle size and ligand density for both the endocytic time and the cellular uptake. We identified from the phase diagrams the lower (upper) bounds below (beyond) which the endocytic time goes to infinite or the cellular uptake vanishes.

We further revealed that the mechanisms governing the lower and upper bounds of the endocytic time and the cellular uptake are the same: the lower bounds correspond to the enthalpic limit of the NP-membrane adhesion strength, while the upper bounds to the entropic limit.

The computed endocytic time and the cellular uptake allow us to define the uptake rate. It should be mentioned that the uptake rate defined here is different from what is typically measured in experiments [13] since the complex dynamics of receptor binding and debonding with NPs is not fully taken into account.

However, it may still serve as an important index to assess the uptake efficacy of NP-based therapeutics. The optimal size at which the uptake rate maximizes agrees with experimental data [8], [13], [14], [18]. Our model also predicts that, optimally several tens of ligands should be coated onto the NP surface in order to achieve high uptake rate.

These findings are supported both by the experimental data and the typical viral structures. The interrelated dependence of the uptake rate on the particle size and ligand density predicted by our analysis invites well-controlled experiments for further validation.

We further discussed the effects of other relevant biophysical parameters on the uptake rate, including the receptor density, the relative energy scale of ligand-receptor binding energy and membrane bending rigidity, membrane tension, and the bulk density of NPs. All the effects can be coherently interpreted by the variation of the enthalpic and entropic adhesion strength.

The phase diagram of the uptake rate in the space of particle size and ligand density thus serves as a design map that guides the rational designs of NP-based bioagents for biosensing [38], [39], bioimaging [40], [41], and drug delivery [42], [43].


Brilliant work, but only in the right hands for the right purpose.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Power And Particles To The People

Another article below on the subject of ultrafine particles. Because of recent efforts in sampling air pollution and analyzing the content coupled with new means of examining the results we know that air pollution of the past may have been worse than we thought.

This might account for many of the increasing health issues of one sort or another across the generations, in particular those involving respiratory and neural conditions. Also, ultrafine particles are nothing new, it seems they have been with us for some time.

So what happens if you add unlimited quantities of other ultrafine particles in domestic or public environments that are derived from strong synthetic chemicals and designed to impact, adhere, carry distances and last indefinitely?


EScience News and Physorg
Friday 5th November 2010

Aerosol particles form in nighttime plumes from coal-fired power plants

Many studies show how daytime emissions from coal-fired power plants lead to ultrafine particles, linked to climate and health issues. But few studies watch what happens at night, when conditions favor different reactions.

Now, thanks to a team of scientists led by Dr. Rahul Zaveri of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, we know pollutant gases given off at night, which remain concentrated in the atmosphere, can react with naturally occurring compounds to form troubling aerosols.

These ultrafine aerosols are a major component of haze and contribute to health problems, such as chronic bronchitis, and are enough of a concern that the Environmental Protection Agency regulates their concentrations. These pollution particles are also implicated in climate change issues at regional and global scales.

The present work will lead to better computer models for air pollution, which do not currently take into account the nighttime birth and growth of ultrafine particles.
The team of scientists performed 17 research flights using the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Gulfstream-1 aircraft during the 2002 New England Air Quality Study field campaign.

During the day, regional surveys were performed in the southern New England and Mid-Atlantic states. The nighttime data were gathered over the Boston urban area and in the Salem Harbor power plant plume. Repeated aircraft sampling in the power plant plume was guided by a constant-altitude Mylar balloon (filled with helium and air) that was released near the power plant at sunset.

The balloon was equipped with small, light-weight instruments to measure temperature, pressure, humidity, and ozone. The balloon also carried a GPS transmitter to allow the scientists onboard the aircraft to locate its position as it floated downwind through the course of a night.

On the evening of July 30, 2002, the team tracked the Salem Harbor power plant plume with the help of the balloon for a period of 7 hours over a distance of 170 miles, from Boston to about 85 miles south of Martha's Vineyard.

The specialized instruments onboard the aircraft sampled the plume for aerosol particle size distribution and composition as well as concentrations of pollutant gases such as sulfur dioxide, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

In analyzing this data, a multi-year task, the team found that at night, the concentrated power plant exhaust creeps atop the temperature inversion in the air where the atmosphere is relatively calm, allowing time for different kinds of chemical reactions that might not occur during the day.

In the absence of photooxidation, ultrafine sulfate particles form from the small amounts of sulfuric acid that is often directly emitted from the power plant. Additional aerosol mass composed of organosulfate and organonitrate chemicals can then form via nitrogen oxide-initiated oxidation of VOCs from natural vegetation (e.g., isoprene) in the presence of highly acidic ultrafine particles.

Further laboratory, field, and modeling studies are needed to fully understand the complex nighttime aerosol chemistry in the atmosphere, and how the nocturnal pollution contributes to poor air quality, health problems, and climate change.

More information: Zaveri RA, et al. 2010. "Nighttime chemical evolution of aerosol and trace gases in a power plant plume: Implications for secondary organic nitrate and organosulfate aerosol formation, NO3 radical chemistry, and N2O5 heterogeneous hydrolysis." Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres 115: D12304. DOI:10.1029/2009JD013250


Just how much stuff is out there in the air?

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Feeling Tired?

This morning we are feeling very tired, despite a good nights rest. Yesterday we were out, but it was not a heavy day and it all went quite well.

Up to a point.

What we did get was a heavy hit from perfumes/deodorants. For over two years now we have been doing a rigorous analysis of where the fatigue is coming from and why. This developed from ongoing rigorous checking out of all things because of my anaphylaxis to a particular chemical in common use.

It was further developed after a nasty winter virus left my wife with gluten reaction. She had already had some food intolerances for a time and also had reacted to hair colourings. We have never used fabric conditioners and have had problems with some detergents.

So yesterday we started off fresh and feeling fine. During the course of the day we do not eat or drink anything we have not carried. This is plain filtered water and foods made up and home and carefully sourced. We even know the farms where the meat comes from.

It is all balanced between protein and other stuff. No alcohol, no caffeine, no manufactured energy bars or drinks, no processed foods, no carbo heavy stuff designed to give you a kick and then leave you flat wanting more.

The travel is planned to avoid people as far as possible and the trains and stations picked also to minimise any contamination both in timing, location and facilities.

The journey there goes well and also the journey back is no problem. It is the kind of day we have done very often in the past. All the people we are in contact with are pleasant and good to be with. There is no incidental stress, no rushing and no worry. The waiting areas are open, spacious, and uncrowded.

The problem is in the auditorium. There is a young male nearby with a killer deodorant and unluckily one or two others with perfumes all too likely derived from unreliable sources and with synthetic musks banned in other countries. It is not good. It is not a long do so we manage to get through to the end.

But we have taken a heavy hit, enough to put us up to a Scale 3 Reaction in a scale of five with my wife’s verging on four. All the reaction boxes are being ticked. By the time we are home we are aching all over and very very tired. It can only be the air pollution in the auditorium that did it.

The problem not is how long the fatigue will last. The train journey back was fine, no trouble apart from the train overshooting a platform, the conductor losing his whistle and the train announcement being the wrong way round. It gave us all a laugh.

Now to see how long recovery will take. This morning we are better but there is not much in the tank. A couple of clear days may see us OK.

The serious about this kind of fatigue effect is the progressive effect. Because a little while back we had a run of events, six within two weeks, that all had the potential for the same problems. Same kind of journeys, same place, same pattern. Then, with all the same precautions we managed to avoid any heavy hit.

We did have reduced contamination because the air pollution in the auditorium is unavoidable although sometimes much lower than others. Even this began to give us problems because the recovery period between events was not enough to clear the effects of even relatively minor pollution and contamination.

By the time the run of events was over the progressive fatigue was taking its toll. This was despite the rigour described being applied over the whole period to all our eating, drinking and activities. We were whacked out by the pollution.

It took some days of careful management of the way we went about things to gain recovery to the point when we were feeling back to normal and fully functioning, given our age, again.

But what would it have been like if we were not retired and able to manage our lives? If we were not able or did not know how to manage our eating, drinking, cleaning and general routines to avoid pollution and contamination?

I suspect there are a lot of people out there who know exactly what I mean.