Household items

Clothes, fabric, foam and yarn

Corn-based fabrics, such as Ingeo and Sorona, are now on sale in Canada, though they are not yet mainstream. These fibres are used in everything from clothing to carpets. Corn-based foam is also being used more and more in pillows, memory-foam beds, etc.

corn pillow

Yarn made from corn (Kollàge, Pop Corn and others) is also now available.

photo of yarn made from corn fibre

The risk of having an allergic reaction to these fibres/fabrics is probably low, considering the amount of processing the corn sugars undergo as they are converted into polymers. Still, I would personally avoid using personal care items made from them, just to be safe.

Home improvement

Drywall often contains powdered corn derivatives. These corn particles are likely to become airborne during construction. The combined effect of corn dust with regular gypsum dust is probably very unpleasant to breathe. Wear a mask!

Lawn care

A corn gluten-based “organic” herbicide called TurfMaize is sold in Canada to control dandelions and crabgrass. It is considered nontoxic – “Safe for children and pets to use yard immediately after application” – so people who are using it may not put signs up on their lawns warning that they have applied it. It may cause a problem for corn allergy sufferers.

There are also corn-based weed control mats, though these are probably relatively innocuous, especially if handled with garden gloves.

Pet care

Just when I thought I’d seen it all: corn-based kitty litter. This is just one of several brands available.

In the car

Car accidents are bad enough on their own, but for corn-sensitive people, they may be even worse: airbags are coated in corn starch. When the air bags inflate, the starch can fill the air inside the vehicle. It’s probably a good idea to keep an adrenaline injector pen (EpiPen) in an accessible location in the car, just in case.

Cigarettes

Another reason not to smoke: a study in 2006 showed that adding corn syrup to cigarettes did not affect their toxicity. . . to people not allergic to corn, anyway. This implies that cigarettes already have or soon will have corn syrup in them.

Entertainment

Apparently, sparklers are made with corn starch (among other reactive ingredients!)

If you like to go to the movies but you react to the smell of popcorn, an antihistamine may be the price you will have to pay to enjoy movies in the theatre. The popcorn smell is worst when theatres are crowded with popcorn eaters, so it helps to go on quieter days of the week (and to bring tissues even when you’re seeing an action movie).