Winter of My Disbelief

It’s mid-winter. Temperatures in Grenoble have varied between -5 and +5 over the last 2 weeks. The only problem is that my downstairs neighbors decided to start redoing their bathroom 2 weeks ago, including paint and wood varnish, and of course tons of vapors are rising through the floors to give me headaches and other symptoms (prior to moving here, I have no recollection of ever suffering from severe migraine type headaches; the only time I remember headaches like this is when I had a bad sinus infection). The vapor situation is surely aggravated by the fact that my neighbors refuse to air out their own appartment because… guess what? It’s too cold outside. Who knew? Haven’t they ever heard about toxic indoor air prior to my mentionning it? And instead of thinking, hey maybe this guy is some sort of canary and could help save us from some terrible disease, they seem to think I just want to prevent them from having a beautiful appartment. The cherry on the cake was the comment that they’ve lived here for 14 years and no one has ever had a problem with odors from their DIY work, including the original owner who was sick with cancer (and subsequently died from it). These are the same people who break out the Raid at the sight of an itsy bitsy spider or a couple of ants. And who of course are eating more and more organic foods, because well, all those pesticides you know! We are of course actively looking for another appartment before we become the next cancer statistics here. In addition to the original owner of this appartment, 2 other relatively young persons (40s and 50s) have died within meters of here, from rare cancers (pancreatic, stomach and liver). With toxic neighbors and pathetic construction like this, I’m not at all suprised.

What get’s me is that if the odors are even perceptible in my appartment, they have to be absolutely outrageous in theirs, and they don’t seem to mind, although they apparently abhor the smell of cigarettes. Go figure.

Such people are surely not rare in France; my stepfather is one of them. His basement garage is an abominal pit of toxicity (see photos), yet he eats mainly organic foods now (the organic potatoes stored in the garage smell of gasoline and myriad VOCs), and dreams of building an eco-friendly home. When I pointed out that all the organic stuff was pointless if he breathed his garage air 10 minutes a day or more, I got an angry reply to the effect that he makes an absolute distinction between what he breathes and what he ingests. Interesting philosophy.

One of these days I post some stats on French cancer statistics. My hunch is that they are rising faster than most other places.

There’s a consumer magazine in France called “Que choisir” that regularly warns people about indoor-air toxicitiy, but apparently people are more interest in plasma TVs and washing machines. Too bad.

Cave à Vin, ou stockage de déchets dangereux?

Every true Frenchman has a wine cellar...

Breath this!

and an arsenal of hazardous materials

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