Doctors couldn’t explain why Shanelle Borlase, a New Zealand renter, was suffering from so many health problems, despite a slew of medical tests. All that Shanelle could tell them is that she began having health problems about two months after she moved in to her new apartment. “At the beginning I suffered from absence of time, where I’d black out but my eyes would be open and I’d still function. Then I started getting blurred vision and walked into objects and people. In the end, I had migraines every day. ” Other health problems soon followed: heart palpitations, eye seizures, dilated pupils, collapsing, and problems keeping her balance. Shanelle’s goal of becoming a professional dancer vanished. She says she couldn’t get through a single dance lesson without “falling over, shaking, or going momentarily blind”.
Doctors suspected Shanelle’s health issues may have been caused by a tumor, epilepsy, or problems with her eyes, but MRI, ECG and vision tests all came back normal. Doctors then suspected her health problems were caused by drug abuse, but that wasn’t the case. Although, Shanelle admits that she sometimes used alcohol and cigarettes, that didn’t explain why her health problems appeared after moving in to her apartment.
Shanelle wasn’t the only one having health problems, since moving in to their New Castle home. Her parents and younger brother were all suffering from migraine headaches. They believe that Shanelle suffered from more health problems because her immune system had been weakened by the glandular fever that she suffered in 2005. None of them knew then, that they were living next door to a meth lab, or that Shanelle’s room was the closest to it. And they didn’t know why there was a strange chemical smell to their clothes after they hung them outside to dry, a smell strong enough to coax Shanelle’s mother to rewash them.
“The cooks are venting chemicals outside the house, so if washing is nearby it could be covered in those things. If you have a low immune system, you may be sensitive to low-level exposure to those sorts of things. You certainly could not discount that.”” ~Dr Wayne Temple, director of the National Poisons Centre
The Borlase family still didn’t know that there was a meth lab next door to them, when they moved out of the apartment to let the landlord’s daughter move in. It was a turn-of-events that turned in to a blessing in disguise. Moving out of the apartment resulted in an improvement in their health.
Alan Watkins, another tenant in the building, also reported that he suffered from health problems – nausea and vomiting – health problems that subsided after the landlord had the building decontaminated.
Milne, Rebecca. NZ Herald: New Zealand’s Latest News, Business, Sport, Weather, Travel, Technology, Entertainment, Politics, Finance, Health, Environment and Science. 11 Nov. 2007. Web. 17 Oct. 2011.