Strawberries in the Desert

Story telling from Australia

Why chemicals upset me

Warning. This is a rant.

I live in Australia but I regularly log onto the BBC website to check the news. Today’s was alarming.

The UK government has announced that half the country is now open to exploration for the highly controversial process of fracking. They’re inviting bids, offering tax breaks and financial incentives, and enticing communities to participate in return for a percentage of the profits.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 9.18.06 PM

Cleaner than coal, they shout! Cheaper too! Come join the party!

Absolute bloody madness, in my humble opinion, and as controversial in England as it’s proving to be in Australia.

Fracking involves mixing water, chemicals and sand then blasting the mix deep underground at intense pressure, in order to shatter the rock and extract the shale gas.

I’m not a scientist, I’m not even a researcher so I’m hazy on the exact details, and maybe my reaction is over emotional but dammit every instinct in my body tells me this is WRONG. What about the long-term environmental impacts? What if those chemicals find their way into rivers and lakes or out into the ocean, what then? Oops, sorry? What about the risk of earthquakes? What numbskull short sighted policy-makers have decided that pumping yet more chemicals into our environment is a better option than investing in renewable energy??

Ah yes, of course. It’s cheaper.

There were earth tremors in Blackpool in 2011 and the energy firm Cuadrilla was forced to admit that it was “highly probable” their tests had been the cause. This wasn’t actual fracking mind, this was just test drilling. “Unlikely to occur again,” the company said. Unlikely??

Here’s what I think. I think we already pump far too many chemicals into the environment and we slap way too many chemicals onto our bodies. That complex mix can’t be good for us. Nano particles in sunscreen, which were thought to be safe, have been found to interact with common surfactants found in shampoo and detergent, making them potentially unsafe.


And what’s behind the dwindling bee population? Common pesticides. Studies now suggest birds are suffering too. The incidence of cancer is rising all the time yet we continue to flood our homes, drench our environment and spray our bodies with chemicals.

My pet hate is fragrance. Any product with a chemical fragrance gives me a runny nose, painful eyes, fizzy tongue, headache and, if I’m exposed for too long, heart palpitations. I dug around to find out why and discovered that the word ‘fragrance’ in any product – be that shampoo, washing powder, floor cleaner, fabric softener or those hideous plug in air fresheners – can be a cover for hundreds of chemical ingredients that go into making it.

‘Fragrance’ can contain a derivative of benzene, yep, you heard right, benzene, which is known to be carcinogenic or it might contain ethylene oxide, another ingredient proven to increase the risk of cancer in humans. And all the manufacturer has to say is ‘contains fragrance.’

I started this rant about fracking and ended up writing about fragrance; both set me off because of their chemical content.

In a perverse way I’m glad I get such a strong reaction to chemical fragrance; it forces me to steer clear of all chemicals. I stick to essential oils now, and I read product labels very, very carefully.

The articles below are for anyone who wants to find out more. I’ll shut up now.

Choose safe cosmetics

Does your perfume contain toxic chemicals?

Hidden dangers in everyday products

Poisonous perfume?

19 comments on “Why chemicals upset me

  1. Eliza Waters
    July 28, 2014

    You are right to be alarmed. It has been confirmed that fracking can cause an earthquake. Worse still are the communities in Appalachia whose drinking water can be SET ON FIRE because of the gas that has leaked into it! PURE MADNESS. All for the short term profits of a select few. As the saying goes, we’re “going to hell in a hand basket.”
    The best we can do is to reduce our demand on such products and push our govt reps to fund renewables. Let them know your feelings FREQUENTLY! Squeaky wheels get the grease. 🙂


  2. debhuntinbrokenhill
    July 28, 2014

    Eliza I’m glad you share my concerns and the thought of being able to set drinking water on fire is ludicrous. I will be squeaking my wheels whenever possible!


  3. bkpyett
    July 29, 2014

    Deb, you did surprise me with the fact that fracking is taking place in the UK too.
    I thought they’d have more sense over there. We’ve been getting earth quakes here where we live over the last couple of years. In fact we were the epicentre of one. Scary! I hate this fracking idea. Our water tables should be protected.
    We have solar and would have batteries if we could afford them to become independent of the grid. Hopefully the price of batteries will reduce when the Chinese put their energy into mass producing such items. It does upset me to think our government is so short sighted and continuing to put its head in the sand.
    I too avoid artificial fragrances; there are plenty of perfumes in the garden which I love, and I tolerate the hay fever as a consequence… but that’s enough!


    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      July 30, 2014

      I love the way this blogging community brings like minded people together, good to hear from you Barbara and like you I would love to one day be independent of the grid. I think you are right, batteries to store energy might one day give us that independence. Here’s hoping!


  4. monsoonwendy
    July 29, 2014

    It’s very very scary Deb. We must all squeak as often and as loudly as possible!


  5. Pingback: When greed pulls the strings, humanity doesn’t count | helen meikle's scribblefest

  6. debhuntinbrokenhill
    July 29, 2014

    Thank you for that ping back Helen, I must find out what a ping back is!! My task for next week 🙂


    • Deb – I’m so sorry. I meant to pay you the courtesy of telling you directly that I’d done what I did. No excuse. I got sidetracked, and clean forgot. I do aplogise.


      • debhuntinbrokenhill
        July 30, 2014

        Helen I don’t mind in the slightest and no apology necessary. I’m very flattered that you pinged back, it’s prompted me to find out what ping backs are!


  7. rthepotter
    July 29, 2014

    Fracking? Don’t get me started … I might not be able to stop.


  8. Nic
    July 31, 2014

    Well said Deb! Squeaking LOUDLY.


  9. Django Zazou
    July 31, 2014

    What I find really infuriating is less the fact that they’ve cooked up an argument to support this insanity than that the fact that they imagine anyone really falling for it. Nobody does, but the companies advancing this technique are arrogant in their confidence that they’ll get their way, and the slender case to be made for fracking is barely worth the effort to persuade. Can you imagine the publicity team meeting up to discuss the sales pitch? “Ok, guys. Here’s the deal. We pump millions of gallons of water mixed with chemicals into the substrata, risking contamination, earthquakes pollution and despoliation. How we gonna sell this? Anyone got a catchy angle? No, me neither. Tell you what, sod the jingle and just fetch the hosepipes!” And off they go, trundling their bulldozers across the metaphorical landscape and patronising us with mollifications a child would find risible.
    And to make this even more infuriating for us in the North East of England, in 2011, Lord Howell, the chancellor’s father-in-law, told the House of Lords that he acknowledged that fracking would blight the landscape and it should be avoided in “…beautiful areas…” However, there were, he said, lots of “…desolate places…” in the North East, where there’d be “…plenty of room for fracking well away from residences…” And with one regrettable statement so much about Tory attitudes to so many things is neatly betrayed.

    And you think you’re ranting!


  10. debhuntinbrokenhill
    August 1, 2014

    You rant with such beauty Django, and yet you live in the North East? How can that be? I’m sure a Tory would be able to explain it.


  11. Carricklass
    August 1, 2014

    Yes, the fracking is indeed looming over us. There are lots of lobbies against it, but the government are determined to go ahead with it. It appears that home owners have no say in what happens to the ground under their property. Worse still, much of the fracking is to take place in National Parks. I could rant on forever, but others are more eloquent than I am.


  12. debhuntinbrokenhill
    August 5, 2014

    Carricklass your voice is as eloquent as anyone’s and your protest just as valuable. Let’s hope the government comes to its senses before irreparable damage is done.


  13. Po' Girl Shines
    August 17, 2014

    I became very chemically sensitive as I got older. I was fine as a kid. My grandmother was like that years ago. Might be a genetic thing, but I hate most fragrance. Some I can tolerate so it’s not all, it’s because some use cheap and dangerous bases for their fragrance. Our air in general is horrible throughout the world now. They go to so much trouble to pollute everything making things we don’t really need so they can talk us into thinking we do. Frightening!


    • debhuntinbrokenhill
      August 17, 2014

      Hello Po’Girl, thanks for your comment and I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one to react badly to chemical fragrance, but I’m sorry you suffer too. We live in paradise yet we pollute it with completely unnecessary chemicals – it’s so pointless. Thankfully when I leave the city and head into the bush the air becomes clean again and I can breathe.


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This entry was posted on July 28, 2014 by and tagged , , , , , , , , .

I'm a writer based in Australia with a passion for gardening, remote places and people with a story to tell.

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