Friday, October 9, 2009

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity - Help may be on the way

Clean air - precious clean air -photo by Barry Beall

I have written about the dangers to me and many others who suffer from severe allergic reactions to the chemicals pervasive in our world today. In the past, while EPA knew of the dangers to the public from products made with certain chemicals, they were unable to do anything about it. Therefore I am delighted to read the following:

“In a speech to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco on September 29th, 2009, EPA head Lisa Jackson announced an extraordinary series of new principles to guide the development of new, stronger chemical laws.

These principles call for the EPA to be given the authority to make regulatory decisions based on scientific assessments that reflect the need to protect human and environmental health. Manufacturers should supply the agency with the information necessary to prove that both new and existing chemicals do not endanger the public or the environment. This information should address specific potential risks to sensitive groups like children. When manufacturers do not submit this information, the EPA should be legally permitted to demand it, and it should be allowed to revisit chemicals already approved as needed.

The principles also say the EPA should have authority to take action when chemicals do not meet safety standards and should take into account considerations like children's health, social benefits, and equity concerns. It should be permitted to prioritize chemicals for review and set clear deadlines for compliance. Stricter requirements should be established for manufacturers who wish to hide "trade secrets" from the agency and the public, and health and safety data should always be disclosed."

Recently I read where a manufacturer plans to produce books for children - books with "fragrance" or chemical odors. The immune system of a child, like that of an older person, is not as strong as an average adult. These chemical smells that children will be breathing can compromise their immune systems and bring on the lung problems so many children are experiencing these days.

Those of us, who are extremely sensitive to the overwhelming presence of chemicals in our environment every day, are like the canary in the coal mine. Those who do not yet suffer as we do, should pay attention. What are you breathing into your lungs? Do you have headaches, coughs, and nasal problems you can't explain? Maybe it is the cleaning products used in your home or office. Maybe it is your own hairspray or cologne. Could it be your inside air is polluted by chemicals like "air fresheners"  "carpet deodorizers" or the chemicals in your fabric softener or laundry detergent?

When reading Oprah magazine gave me a blinding headache, it did not take long for me to realize it was the perfume ads with fragrances that exploded when I opened the pages.

If one is not concerned about the dangers to his or her own family from the chemical fragrances and cleaning supplies on the market today, it would be kind and considerate to think about others who might be.
Especially I wish waitresses, nurses, and staff in medical facilities, would leave off the perfume while at work with the public. The patient is trapped in a position where she cannot breath, where she knows that contact with the chemical fragrance will cause days of illness and sometimes major medical bills.
Although I listed my allergies to fragrance on my pre-op form before eye surgery, the nurse who came and took me to the operating room, who read out loud to me my allergies, said, "Oh, I don't have on fragrance, do I?"
"Yes," I said. She then laughed, "I bathe in -------- and I've been told it stays with me. I'll just get behind you and it won't bother you."

I was trapped on a gurney, an IV in my arm, on my way to surgery. I pulled the sheet over my face in an effort to filter the chemicals I was inhaling. Sadly, I've learned that hospitals and medical facilities are the worst places for folks with chemical sensitivity. MCS is a known problem, but no one seems to understand the seriousness until they become sick with it themselves.

To learn more click here.


My Carolina Kitchen said...

How sad that we sometimes don't think of others when it comes to perfume. I do believe some people "take a bath in it" as you say. I'm not allergic, but I don't like a strong scent one bit. Worse on a man when he shakes hands with you, you can't get rid of it on your hands.

Hope MCS gets more attention from the media. It's about time. Maybe they'll combine it with the "going green movement."

Glenda Council Beall said...

Thanks for commenting, Sam. I hear from many people who know we have a problem in this culture of ours, but not much has been done about it in the past. Now with groups like the Environmental Workers putting the pressure on EPA, and with an administration more in tune with environmental issues, I hope to see some progress.

Joan Ellen Gage said...

I, too, suffer from chemical allergies. Most people do not believe you when you tell them. My own husband does not believe that the scent of Windex nauseates me.
I guess we just have to carry wipes and ask the offender to remove the scent. I know, they wouldn't like it!

Anonymous said...

Joan, you are so right. People don't like to be told their fragrance is harmful
Even a good friend of mine was offended when I asked her as kindly as I could if she would not wear perfume when she came to see me. Once I had to ask a male student to sit further away from me because of his cologne. His was the only negative evaluation I have ever received.
I am sure the problem is lack of education of the public to the real dangers of petro chemicals and other ingredients foisted on the public by manufacturers who are only interested in the bottom line. That is why I speak out about it and hope more people will do so.