I started to become allergic/hypersensitive to CAMPHOR and Camphor laurel trees in 2005, at the age of 55. Other people I have known or met have become seriously ill as a result of living close to, under or having to drink the 'roof water' camphorated by huge, shady Camphor trees – that occasionally grow up to be bigger than a house! (see Case Study #5 below)
After 100 years of growth, a Camphor laurel can be a mammoth 'hunk of wood', and timber merchants have historically competed to cut down the biggest and best. This also happened in China over past centuries, where Camphor laurels were made into 'Camphor chests' and distilled (roots 'n' all) to manufacture camphor oil and camphor crystals, to supply the (then) huge European and North American demand for Camphor … until 1950.
Little did anyone notice or realise that scientists throughout the world largely overlooked and never completed the rigorous laboratory testing needed to prove that Camphor is a totally safe toxin, nor tested the limits to intake of the human body (dermal/oral); that is, to this day, there exists no 'MSDS' Safety Data Sheet completed for the compound Camphor.
Being highly volatile under certain pressure, as anyone who cuts down a Camphor tree will testify, Camphor can and does get into the atmosphere – we breathe in a certain amount of it. Camphor laurel trees are known to be 'releasing' a range of toxins – including Camphor and its close relative compound, Naphthalene – into the soil around the trees and into the air in warm/hot conditions, especially when trees are stressed. These toxins are cumulative poisons, which slowly kill off soft-bodied organisms.
CASE STUDY #1 Near The Channon via Lismore in 1999, I came to know well an American couple who were chronically ill for the entire year of their stay in Australia. They were living in a rented house using tank water. A large Camphor laurel tree partly covered the tank and roof, and the guttering and the tank were partially full of Camphor laurel leaves, twigs, etc., which had built up over the years and had not been cleared. The couple had been drinking the water for quite some months, until it turned 'smelly', at which time they decided to see a doctor and have blood tests done. Camphor was proved to be in their blood, but no medico would say that camphorated water could have been the problem. The couple returned to America, quite disgusted with their stay in the Camphor laurel tree infested region of NSW's Northern Rivers.
CASE STUDY #2 New Zealand's history of setting the world's highest health standards, by warning Kiwis not to buy Camphor or Camphor laurel trees (National RNZ broadcasts since ca.1965), is soundly based on the by-then available translations (German to English) of the foundation scientific research of C. E. Overton, co-founder of modern Anaesthesiology, who first proved that Camphor is a narcotic toxin, that it can kill frogs, and that this happens slowly by 'Narcosis'.
CASE STUDY #3 Scientist retired at 48 years of age with medically-diagnosed 'CAMPHOR POISONING'. In Adelaide around 1995, a senior scientist with the South Australian Museum was chemically tested (blood, etc.) and found to have permanent liver and spleen damage (non-reversible), due principally to Camphor, but also its 'cousin compound', Naphthalene. Medical specialists and the Museum agreed to an early retirement on the grounds of 'occupational health risk' (Correspondent: Prof. M. Tyler, Amphibian Expert, ex University of Adelaide).
CASE STUDY #4 A ten-year-old boy becomes "wild", overheated and hyperactive, as well as unable to concentrate in class, at South Lismore Public School after contractors cut down and 'chipped' ten large Camphor trees within the school grounds. Medical blood tests prove Camphor toxification and the school is found 'not to accept blame' for the 'chemical sensitivity' of the child. The child is moved to another school, and health is restored.
CASE STUDY #5
A woman aged 60, living with her mentally-ill son aged 41, and their dog, at the edge of a Camphor-tree-infested districted at Chowans Creek via Uki in the Tweed Valley, reported that the 'huge' mature Camphor tree overhanging her house had been finally proved to be causing a consistent set of symptoms for all three individuals: hyperactivity, aggravated itching and warming of the skin, sleeplessness and insomnia, due to the repeated drinking of gutter-fed water off the home roof.
The proof of 'cause and effect' came after testing the possibility that it was the tree. Firstly, they travelled away for a 'week at a time' and found the symptoms faded quickly when away from the tree, only to return within twelve hours of returning home in any warm weather. Secondly, a new water collection tank was constructed on a new nearby building and they drank only that water, leaving the dog to keep drinking the 'camphorated water'. The dog then became the only one of the three with symptoms – hyperactivity and skin that was itching, pink, and hot to touch.