Some people are obviously more vulnerable than others, and while “silent sounds” usually cannot be avoided, an optimal state of nutrition will help inoculate you against their effects.
The “odorless fumes” of our polluted atmosphere, just as hard to escape as infrasounds, have also been found responsible for a wide range of mental disturbances, from “butterflies in the stomach” to paranoid
delusions. During hot, humid, high pollution days, patient suffering from nonspecific air pollution syndrome (NAPS) experience anxiety, are distrustful, tremorous, and may even find themselves sexually inadequate.
Clean air advocates are generally concerned with heart, lung, and respiratory ills brought about by pollution. They tend to overlook the dangers of mental functioning.
A recent donnybrook in the District of Columbia erupted when an incinerator’s mercury emissions were found to be 40 percent higher than federal law allows. A top government expert did not consider the emissions a “serious health hazard”; yet psychiatrists have reported that mercury inhalation causes children to become irritable, hostile, and seriously depressed.
You need not live in a high pollution area to suffer mental disturbances from odorless fumes. A variety of common household products can cause emotional upset. The case files of Dr. Mandell, the allergist mentioned earlier, include housewives made irrational by their natural gas ovens, hair sprays, disinfectants, cleaning materials, wall paint, floor wax, and insecticides. As more and more chemicals and products made from chemicals (such as plastics) come into use, we find more complaints of headaches, mood swings, cry ing jags, bad dreams, and so on. Seemingly innocuous items, from permanent press garments to plastic backed carpeting, have been found to trigger the complaints. Dr. Mandell had one patient who always wept on washdays: not because she found doing the laundry distasteful, but because the chlorine bleach she used caused an emotional reaction. Many housewives who are constantly depressed and overtired assume the cause to be overwork or nerves, but they could be experiencing a sensitivity to chemical fumes.
Allergy experts advise a thorough airing of the home periodically and careful avoidance of suspected chemicals. If you live or work in a polluted area, take a clean air break in the country whenever possible.