Hi! I’m The Allergista!
In 2010, all of a sudden I was dealing with horrible oozing rashes on my legs and arms. It seemed to keep spreading… and spreading. Medications helped for a day or two and then I’d slide even further downhill. I ended up being diagnosed with a list of allergies (I have 24) and eczema. As opposed to taking harsh oral steroids (Prednisone) for the rest of my life, which the doctors recommended, I decided to avoid my allergens instead. It’s been QUITE the journey. Michellina has so kindly allowed me to talk to you guys because she is AWESOME like that. With her medical condition diagnosed as Inhalant Allergies… she knows what it’s like having to avoid an annoying amount of things. It’s nice to have other people who “get it” because most people don’t understand how much I had to change my lifestyle in order to deal with these issues!
So let’s get on with it, shall we? What I want to share with you today has to do with laminate countertops. Aside from being a poor imposter for wood, I never thought anything bad about them until I discovered what was in them. It all goes back to my eczema… I kept getting a really intense little rash on the underside of my right wrist. This made me think about what my wrist was touching all day and I realized that EXACT SPOT was touching the counter my work computer sat on. Thinking it may be due to cleaning products used on the counter, I started cleaning it with just water… but it didn’t make a difference. My next solution was to tape pieces of laserjet paper to the counter, preventing my wrist from actually touching it. This did the trick! And it proved to me that the actual countertops were what was bothering me…. but why?
I started doing some digging online. I wanted to know what laminate countertops were made of and how they were made… hoping this information would shed some light on what was really going on. As I dug deeper and deeper, it all made sense: cheap laminate countertops are often made with polyester resin. My skin HATES polyester! Any time polyester sits on my skin for more than 5 minutes, my eczema flares up into a mess of itchy red bumps. Not only did I learn that polyester is used in laminate counter tops, but polyester resin is created by propylene glycol reacting with a dibasic or polybasic acid. PG is another one of my allergens… veeeeery interesting! I explained my findings to my dermatologist and she wrote a doctor’s note saying that in order for me to be in a healthy environment, I need to be protected from laminate countertops.
These days, my desk at work is covered in glass which I LOVE. Not having to worry about if I’m touching my desk or having to DIY my way around it is pretty awesome.
Polyester resin doesn’t stop at counter tops, though. Here are some other places you’ll find it:
- in construction as an adhesive
- luggage: as adhesive holding on the metal hardware
- outdoor furniture
- packaging: bonding the plastic and cardboard together in blister packaging
- underground utility boxes
- sheet moulding compound
- automotive panels
- carbon fiber
I really wish that there were strict laws around labelling the content of EVERYTHING… not just food. And actually, the laws around ingredient labels on food aren’t that great. I talk more about that here. In the last handful of years, this is just one of the sneaky ways my allergens were messing with me and my eczema. I’ve learned a LOT. In an effort to help you guys out, I sat down and thought of all the different ways my health has been secretly disrupted. I came up with nine! I organized them all into a nice little 2-page PDF which you can download by clicking the glittery button below:
Cheers to taking control and leading a healthier life!
MSDS for Propylene Glycol (Polyester): http://msdssearch.dow.com/PublishedLiteratureDOWCOM/dh_006e/0901b8038006e13c.pdf?filepath=propyleneglycol/pdfs/noreg/117-01785.pdf&fromPage=GetDoc
Shell ~ propylene product derivatives: http://www.shell.com/chemicals/products-services/our-products/propylene-oxide-derivatives/propylene-glycols/product-overview.html
Polyester Resin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyester_resin
Us Composities ~ Polyesters: http://www.uscomposites.com/polyesters.html
Moulded Fibreglass and Polyester Resins: http://www.moldedfiberglass.com/materials/polyester-resins
eHow Facts on Polyester Resin: http://www.ehow.com/facts_5043005_can-polyester-resin-make.html
The Kitchen Series
An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen—Oak. Glass or uPVC or Composite Panels?
An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen—By The Allergista: What are Your Countertops Hiding?
An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen—Ecological Panels, and Building Biology Service, EcoLibria
An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen—uPVC Board
An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen—Benchtops
An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen ~ A Recap on the Low Irritant Kitchen