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So I had been laid up in bed for almost all day Friday, feeling so thorough a toxic mess that outdid every previous bout of flu or food poisoning. Saturday was not much better, but medicated kitties needed their meds refilled and had to see the vet. I mustered all my strength and went outside to begin clearing out the trunk of our SUV to make room for their carriers.

I noticed immediately that the brand new jug of windshield wiper fluid was laying on its side, empty. At first, I was more concerned with the mess, the entire trunk was soaked through. As I began clearing everything out, I picked up the empty bottle, angry to have wasted the whole thing. I noticed a warning on the side, the fumes could be toxic.

A quick analysis of the ability to preserve the slowly evaporating solution into an unventilated sealed container. The windows rolled up as the sun set and then rose over the next morning, creating just enough fumes to make me sick.

I then considered that, if this was indeed what happened to me, that it could happen to a lot of people. Consider how often you grab an extra gallon of windshield wiper fluid and toss it in the trunk.

I decided to do some web searching when we got back from the vet. I was startled at how difficult it was to get an answer. Most questions related to the windshield wiper fluid were about pets, and the animals had drunk some of it.

Eventually, I got through to the basic windshield wiper fluid Wikipedia page. I searched the warnings and came up with some more information about which chemicals can evaporate, exposure and treatment. I saw two indications for tums and folic acid. Fortunately I had both in the house, and thought it couldn’t hurt to at least try.

Within an hour, I was feeling human again, and starved! I was finally able to stomach food and was ravenous. I really feel like I stumbled upon a potentially damaging situation, had I had more exposure, I risked unconsciousness, which could really hurt someone. Furthermore the chemical smell was not that strong. After a few seconds, I barely noticed it.

So, if you’re the kind of person who has a hatchback style vehicle like mine, and you tend to buy and leave gallon jugs of windshield wiper fluid, secure them so they can’t spill and get them out of the car. Under the right conditions, it could make you quite sick.