Monday, February 4, 2008

My Grandparents Lungs

some things just take a long time to recover from -- and some things are not cleaned up after well...

I myself am slow to get over things... I've been home for two days now and I'm still so tired I can barely see straight --
furthermore I'm still thinking about Brooklyn.

Here's the thing:
Both of my grandparents died of lung disease.

They were smokers -- so this was a surprise to no one. In his Green Point dining room turned clinic, with oozing bandages and an IV drip, my grandfather asked me if I smoked. I lied and said no -- I was 14 at the time -- he knew, I'm sure. He told me to never start. That is a conversation I have remembered with shame my whole life.

This changes none of that -- But still,
what if it wasn't just the smoke...

I thought I should fish around and look for fume inhalation and its relationship to lung disease... I found so much information I'm going to have to spend the next few days (or months) sifting through it.

Unfortunately, most of what I found was in PDF format... as I said, I can barely see straight, but here is one quote from The Material Safety Data Sheet from Granite Construction Incorporated:

"Inhalation: Petroleum asphalt emissions (fumes and vapors) may have an unpleasant odor, and my produce nausea and irritation of the upper respiratory tract. Elevated concentration of thermal decomposition (hydrocarbons) and chemical asphyxiation (carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide). Systematic effects associated with trace components (less than one percent) are not anticipated during normal use. Chronic exposure to elevated levels of asphalt emissions may result in chronic respiratory irritation and/or other lung disease."

Of course there is no article that I can find that says, "prolonged exposure from a 60 year old unattended oil spill in the earth surrounding ones bedroom results in lung disease."

Of course, I'm seriously contemplating an investigative reporting project. Ugh.

And I'm still thinking about yesterday's carpet cleaner -- satisfied that Exxon bought him a fan -- and saying that when he couldn't smell the fumes because of the fans they must be staying underground...

This was not what I expected to learn about oil.
Sometimes a thing becomes more personal than you could ever imagine.

Some people never talk about anything -- maybe talking is too intimate -- too immediate -- maybe it allows for realities one simply doesn't want to exist...

The thing is, what we don't talk about can kill us.
Things don't go away just because we manage to push them out of our senses.

We don't feel them, maybe -- but they live inside our lungs -- eating away at us.
Maybe they killed our ancestors.
Maybe they will kill our children, too...

I thought I would see what would happen if I learned one thing about oil everyday for a year...

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