I have a metaphysical treatise rumbling in here, probably the result of bugger all sleep for the last few nights. Lack of sleep puts my brain in some very strange places. It’s not complete and won’t be until I’m awake enough to pick the good bits out of the jumble of nonsense. Also I have another early one tomorrow.
Tonight I have a very simple story from the University of the Bleeding Obvious.
Bleach is a cleaning chemical that releases chlorine. Lots of chlorine. Enough to cause burns in skin. Chlorine is a very reactive gas and really pretty damn toxic. That’s why bleach is so effective.
Now, the bottles you get for home use aren’t strong enough to damage an adult unless they drink it or splash it on themselves. Which can happen. I have a few marks here and there… but that won’t surprise anyone. Yes, I use bleach to clean things and I have the scars to prove it. Don’t sniff the end of the bottle and you won’t inhale enough to do serious internal damage.
Those kinds of bottles normally have ‘Keep away from children’ written on them. Sound advice in general. In particular though, the advice refers to the rather less well developed structure of the average greasy little urchin, and the therefore enhanced capability of bleach to damage said urchin.
Including their lungs.
In fact, bleach is now causing pretty much everything that smoking has been blamed for in the past. Except dandruff, scabies, mad cow disease, tennis elbow and wanker’s wrist.
I don’t think it’s bleach itself that is supressing the infant immune system. It’s the liberal application to all surfaces, resulting in a much reduced local bioflora, that then leads to an immune system with nothing much to practice on.
Again, the average adult has lived among filth and squalor at some stage of their lives, or engaged in youthful actiivities in their past involving fireworks and fresh cow dung, and now has an immune system stocked with antibodies against most things.
The use of bleach does not remove the adult’s accumulated immunities. It only affects the child. Which suggests that the effect is not directly on the immune system but on something related to that immune system. Environmental bacteria, fungi and viruses. Those things the immune system needs to experience in small doses so it can learn how to wipe the buggers out if they come in mob-handed at a later stage.
Chlorine gas can damage lungs too. In well-ventilated houses this would never have been a problem but the current trend for multilayered windows and door seals that would work on Mars means that many houses contain most of the same air they had when they were built.
So maybe, just maybe, passive smoke isn’t causing these mysterious illnesses in the offspring of the antismoking Puritans after all.
Maybe it’s passive cleaning.