Monday, November 27, 2006
Medical Reports: Sick of Construction
From traffic jams, to a saturated condo market, here's one more reason to be sick of construction -- all this progress could be hazardous to your health. In tonight's special assignment report, we found that people are having to build up a tolerance to the building boom.
Danielle Millikin: "My neck started itching really, really bad. My neck was just covered in red bumps."
Silvio Zafra: "They were red raised bumps. They were discomforting and itchy."
Danielle Millikin and Silvio Zafra couldn't figure out what was causing these bumps on their body.
Danielle Millikin: "I thought it was stress. I thought it was the sun."
But Danielle didn't have to look far for an answer.
This is the view from Danielle's office in downtown Miami.
And her home in Hollywood.
Danielle Millikin: "I am completely surrounded by construction, dust, dirt."
Silvio also walks and works around Brickell Avenue.
Silvio Zafra: "I work in the area, I go to lunch in the area, and I exercise in the area."
But he never realized this construction zone could be a danger zone for his body.
Silvio Zafra: "It was a mystery because it's just something that you don't think will really affect you."
For people all over South Florida, the cost of progress is painfully obvious.
Dr. Manjula Jegasothy: "Because business is booming with construction, it's also booming for the dermatologist."
From Dade to Broward, doctors like Manjula Jegasothy have seen a number of patients complaining of hives because they're breathing in dust and dirt.
Dr. Manjula Jegasothy: "All this is highly allergenic potential. It can cause skin allergies and asthma and even hay fever."
The hives aren't life threatening, but the welts can last for weeks and cause itching and redness.
Treatment usually includes anti-histamine tablets and creams or even sometimes antibiotics to clear them up.
Silvio Zafra: "It's embarrassing because they are very noticeable hives, and it's really discomforting."
Of course, doctors recommend avoiding any streets where there's active digging and drilling.
They say some people can get sick in seconds.
Dr. Manjula Jegasothy: "Most construction workers wear masks and protective headwear -- and none of us do, so it can be a hazard just walking down the street if you're not adequately protected."
Craig Stevens: "If you are going to be living or working near a construction area, you too should invest in a filter mask. They only cost a few dollars. Or, in the very least, try covering your mouth and nose. Doctors say inhaling the dust is usually what offsets the allergies."
Dr. Manjula Jegasothy: "Digging under the surface tends to bring up a lot of allergens that were not previously in the air. In addition, construction materials and machines generate a lot of dust, and people can get rashes from that just by inhaling the dust."
Fortunately, Silvio has a plan to prevent his allergies from acting up.
Silvio Zafra: "I try to avoid whenever I see areas with all types of smokes of fumes. I try to divert or detour from my route."
But in South Florida, there is only so much diverting and detouring we can do.
Instead, most of us will have to accept the building boom is not only changing the way we look at south Florida but the way we feel.
If you have a rash that lasts more than a few days, you should see a dermatologist as soon as possible.
Hives will not go away on their own.