Urushiol Horror!

Poison Ivy

I was filling out a form online for a medical appointment and I had to go look up the proper spelling of “Urushiol”, the chemical that causes poison ivy to getcha. To my horror, I learned that the chemical is used to lacquer artwork in Japan, and it can be cured incorrectly!

One other interesting thing about urushiol: It’s harvested from the Japanese lacquer tree and prized as a lacquer for artwork. Antoine Wilmering is an expert in , as it is known at the Getty Foundation in Los Angeles. He says you apply multiple layers of the lacquer with a brush, cure and polish each layer, “and then you get these really beautiful shining surfaces.”

The good news is if you properly cure the lacquer, it not only hardens but it also loses its allergenic properties. But an object covered with improperly cured urushiol lacquer can still cause a rash.

This reminded me of good ‘ol radioactive Fiesta Ware, a plate of which my high school chemistry teacher kept around for the lesson on radioactivity.

Do not ever buy me anything that has urushiol deliberately added to it. Thank you.

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