Tag Archives: clean air

I’m Getting my Hair Tested

For mercury, that is.  The Sierra Club is holding free mercury testing events throughout the country, but of course there aren’t any around here.  Fortunately they’re also offering testing by mail for a small fee.  All I need to do is send in a small sample of my hair.  (Of course with my hair, no sample is that small…)

The results of the mercury test will be valuable for a few reasons.  As everyone knows, I’m a breastfeeding mom and mercury has been found in human milk.  However, the risks of mercury exposure through nursing are less than the risks associated with NOT breastfeeding, so I’m not really concerned about that.  However, mercury in a mother’s blood can easily cross the placenta and concentrate in a developing fetus, and I do want to have more children someday.  I also love to eat seafood, especially fish that Ed catches, so that’s another reason to get tested.  Once I know my mercury level, I’ll be able to make educated choices about what I eat and future pregnancies.

But I really want to get my hair tested because I’m a science nerd.  I’m excited for the same reasons I loved getting tested for carrier status of common genetic disorders when I was pregnant.  I read about or even teach about these tests, so it’s neat to get them done myself.  I just like to know the results, and I’ll enjoy talking about it with my friends as well as using it as a teachable moment with my students.  It will also give me some data to share when I argue in favor of regulating mercury emissions.

Would you get your hair tested for mercury, or would you prefer not to know?

Cross-posted at Moms Clean Air Force


Filed under parenting, Sustainable Living


Cross-posted at Moms Clean Air Force

Spring is here! I know this not because I heard peepers over the weekend, or because a single daffodil is blooming in my backyard, or because the birds are singing.  To me, spring starts when a light brush of my finger across my eyelid quickly escalates to wanting to scratch my eyeballs out.  My eyes get very itchy, goopy, puffy, and irritated (think perma-pink eye).  My throat is sore, and my nose runs for months at a time.  In some instances I lose my voice or develop a pounding headache.  I take wads of tissue to bed with me so I can blow my nose throughout the night.  Yes, I have seasonal allergies.

I’ve never been tested for allergies, and I feel that my allergies are not severe enough for me to seek medical help.  But I’ve realized over my lifetime that I am allergic to the following:

  • pollen and overly fragrant plants like gardenias
  • dust
  • mold
  • smoke, especially cigarette smoke
  • artificial fragrances

Since I’ve diagnosed myself, I also treat myself.  I did once get eye drops, years ago, but I’ve found that no medicine works as well as simply not touching my eyes in the first place.  The best thing I can do is avoid the allergens, so I try not to stir up the dust in my house by cleaning too often, I try not to let dish towels sit and develop a musty smell, I distance myself from smelly flowers, and I try to stay away from overly-perfumed people and smoke.  Any combination of these allergens seems to increase my irritation exponentially, so I especially try to avoid the easy ones, like fragrances in my own home or cigarette smoke.  (Fortunately for me, few public places in Connecticut allow smoking anymore.)

I’ve made an effort to keep my son away from these potential allergens, too, since I’m not yet sure if he’s inherited my allergies.  Studies have linked both indoor and outdoor air pollution to infant deaths from respiratory complications and SIDS.  Exposure to cigarette smoke  is a major risk factor for SIDS, as babies are 3.5 times more likely to die of SIDS if both parents smoke than if neither parent smokes.

Unfortunately, there are some things that I can’t control.  People who have allergies or asthma are especially vulnerable to atmospheric pollution, so it’s just another reason for me to fight for clean air. 

Do you have allergies or asthma? How do you cope with them?


Filed under Sustainable Living