Cleaner Indoor Air Helps Disney Make Change for People with Environmental Illness

Press Release

Cleaner Indoor Air Campaign Helps Disney Make Change for People with Environmental Illness

Parker, CO – October 10, 2011. Taking a trip or vacation can often be challenging with all of the planning and packing that goes into it. However, traveling with a disability can be extremely stressful and overwhelming. In addition to the usual clothing and other items, many have to take such things as medications, wheelchairs, linens and special foods.

What’s more, traveling and going into public can be virtually impossible for many living with chemical sensitivities and environmental illness. Not only do they often have to avoid exhaust, paints and smoke, many cannot tolerate perfumes, other fragranced items and/or cleaning products.

Since chemicals and fragrances seem to permeate public areas, most often even attempting to travel is out of the question. On the other hand, if enough strategic planning and efforts are made, it may be possible in some cases. There are no guarantees the adaptations and requests for accommodations will pay off. However, often taking the possible risk outweighs the continued isolation, as long as proper research, preparations and arrangements are requested and a Plan B is in place.

In 2011, Invisible Disabilities Association President, Wayne Connell needed to take his wife Sherri to California for medical reasons. She cannot tolerate an airplane, so they decided to venture out in their car. They had never taken a long road trip and in order to do this, they had to take special air purifiers, masks, oxygen, sheets, towels, blankets and more. Their biggest obstacle was finding a place to stay. Hotels had always been out of the question, because of the cleaning chemicals they use in the rooms, on the linens and the air fresheners often used in the lobbies.

Even so, Wayne and Sherri had to figure out how to make it work. Since they needed to go to California, they decided to stop in Disneyland first. Wayne got into contact with Domestic Services for Guests with Disabilities (DSGD) who made contact with the hotel and provided information about the grounds.

Certainly, there are many situations that cannot be changed, such as stores that carry perfumes and candles, as well as the people in the parks wearing perfumes, fragranced lotions, deodorants and sunscreens. DSGD also provided a list of rides that emit fragrances, smoke or contain chlorine. Thus, those things had to be avoided and travel plans were made during a very slow time of the year to avoid people in the parks, stores and restaurants. They also contacted the hotel’s housekeeping manager and  the head chef regarding Sherri’s food allergies.

Was it actually possible to make the room accessible? It turns out that Disney is not new to hosting people with chemical sensitivities, allergies and asthma. They have sheets and linens set aside that have never been washed in chemicals or fragrances and they are happy to clean the room with baking soda and vinegar and omit any sprays. The hotel was also asked not to spray anything in the halls during their visit, in which they complied. All of the restaurants and chefs are also familiar with various food allergies and sensitivities, where guests are welcome to discuss their concerns ahead of time (with the hotel’s head chef) or when they arrive at a restaurant.

Finally, there was the matter of the automated sprayers in the bathrooms, which are often used by businesses. As you can imagine, for those who become very ill when exposed to these, being unable to use a restroom in a large park such as this can create a barrier from the park itself.  Thus, Wayne requested they shut off the emitters in one bathroom of each park during their visit. He also provided information from IDA’s Cleaner Indoor Air Campaign regarding the prevalence of chemical sensitivities, asthma and allergies, as well as how the sprayers can pose a blockade of accessibility to the restrooms and parks.

Health Care Center

Concerned for the vast numbers of people affected by units in bathrooms, Disney reviewed the information and decided to not only shut them off for a week, but to remove them permanently from the Health Care Center restrooms in all of the parks for both Disneyland and Disney World!

IDA was extremely thrilled to be a part of this ground breaking measure to tear down these barriers for thousands who would like to enjoy the Disney parks.

Disney is doing an amazing job with their incredible hospitality and outstanding accommodation efforts. Nonetheless, please keep in mind that no theme park can guarantee comfort and accessibility for all concerns and situations.

ABOUT THE INVISIBLE DISABILITIES ASSOCIATION

The Invisible Disabilities Association (IDA) is a non-profit organization that has been encouraging, educating and connecting people and organizations touched by invisible disabilities around the world since 1997. IDA provides awareness, articles, pamphlets, booklets, radio interviews, videos, seminars, events, resources, an online social network and much more.

Contact the IDA Team: The Cleaner Indoor Air Campaign was launched by the Invisible Disabilities Association (IDA). Go to the Contact Page on the IDA website. Visit the IDA at: www.InvisibleDisabilities.org.

RELATED STORIES:

My Visit to Disneyland with Chemical Sensitivities

My Visit to Disneyland with Food Allergies

Comments

  1. Linda says

    Nice to see this story. I will surely share. So many need a nice safe place to sleep while away and more and more are becoming sensitive to the fragrances. I use vinegar and baking soda for all my cleaning. :) But yes taking out those machines was a great idea since the fragrance lingers for so long. Legislation is pending regarding fragrances and the chemicals in our products. :) Linda

  2. vicky says

    So grateful to hear that someone cares enough to remove chemicals so everyone can enjoy a healthy safe live.

    Blessings to Disney!

  3. says

    This is lovely and a good start but there is no mention of pesticides/herbicides. These are things that can not be “turned off” and they are the invisible (and usually scent-free) toxins that last for months or even years after being applied. Without a comprehensive nontoxic pest control plan (not just IPM), no location can be considered safe for someone with chemical sensitivity.

    • spritelymiss@yahoo.com says

      Yes, Cyndi-I’m with you on this one. Pesticides/herbicides have been my biggest chemical hurdle, as they’re ubiquitous, often scent-free, but decidedly NOT symptom or toxicity free. I need a hotel that does not use any synthetic pest control products. Only EPA exempt products (those that use only active ingredients and inerts that are “demonstrably” safe) are tolerable to me. The rest are a nightmare-including the bait gel products. Companies like Dow claim that these gels do not volatize like sprays, but they are wrong. The products volatize for upwards of 2 months, and they trigger a constellation of neuro, lung, and GI symptoms in me.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] My husband (Founder and President of the Invisible Disabilities Association) was able to share information with them about chemical sensitivities, asthma and allergies through the Cleaner Indoor Air Campaign. After Disney reviewed the statistics and details, they made a permanent change at all Disney Parks for the sake of those with environmental illness. Read more here! [...]

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