Going Fragrance Free When Visiting a Loved One – Video Interview

FF for Loved One Interview w Melanie ConnellWritten by Sherri Connell. Interview with Sherri, Melanie and Cole Connell.

Living with Environmental Illness is a challenge that often brings about isolation from public, friends and family.

Many loved ones feel overwhelmed by the endeavor of going fragrance free. They don’t know where to start, where to buy products and often fear making someone ill by missing something. Thus, they often avoid the issue and in turn avoid the person living with chemical intolerance.

As I tell everyone I come in contact with, using fragrance free and natural products is health choice for everyone. In other words, it can be viewed as a positive change for all, rather than a sacrifice just for someone who has an issue.

For those who for whatever reason don’t want to change out all their soap, shampoo, deodorant, lotion and hair products, one suggestion I have for people is to keep a Fragrance Free Kit.

Of course, if they want their loved one to visit their home, it will probably need to not have any air fresheners, new carpet, paint, lots of candles, carpet shampoo, stains, harsh cleaners, smokers, regular perfume wearers, etc. On the other hand, if these are not an issues, often there can be some compromise.

First, if the loved one cannot tolerate fragranced laundry products, those will need to be changed long term. These do not wash out easily and linger for many months or longer even when washed multiple times.

Second, we can purchase fragrance free shampoo, soap and deodorant. We keep this under our cabinet and pull them out to use for several showers before visiting with our loved one. We can omit other hair products, lotions, sprays, etc or add fragrance free versions to our kit.


For more information on living with Environmental Illness, the Choose Friendships Over Fragrances Campaign, resources and more: Cleaner Indoor Air Campaign

Do you or a loved one live with debilitating illness or pain? Invisible Disabilities Association

Disclaimer: I am not an expert and this may or may not work for you and your loved one. Please ask your friend or family member what they can or cannot tolerate and what will work for them. Also note that most likely alternatives will not work if there are air fresheners, new carpets, paint, stains, carpet shampoo’s etc. in the home.

About Sherri

Sherri has always been an extremely active person. She used to cheer-lead, sing and dance in musicals, act in commercials, work multiple jobs and obtained 3 college degrees. However, she has been unable to work or care for her daily needs since 1991, due to Progressive Multiple Sclerosis and Chronic-Late Lyme Disease. She lives with unbearable and disabling pain, fatigue and cognitive disorders 24x7. She also has Chemical Sensitivities, which has kept her very isolated from friends and family. Sherri is not a medical professional, please seek advice from your doctor before making any changes to your healthcare or lifestyle.

Be a Part of the New MCS Documentary, Homesick

Press Release: Announcing an opportunity to be included in the documentary video

 Homesick about MCS and housing

After many years, the film is almost done, but I am looking for pictures of MCSers and where they live to create a collage showing there are lots of us out there around the world.  You can view an 8 minute video clip and read more about the project on the Homesick website.

If you are interested, please send a photo of yourself where you live.  It could be a room that you consider your “safest” place, a picture of your whole house, or your neighborhood or surrounding area.  It may look “normal” or it may have been foiled or fixed up showing what it took to make to make it safe for you.  If you live in a car, trailer, or tent, send a picture of that. I hope to include people with all levels of health and show a wide variety of living situations, whether the situation is working for you, or not.

You can email me the picture as JPEG, PDF, or TIFF file to mail@homesick-video.com. Please include your city, state, and country. You can also send your picture through the mail to: Homesick: Pictures, c/o Susan Abod, 11 Balsa Court, Santa Fe, NM 87508. Note that sending your picture grants permission for its use in the film.

If you have any questions you can email me. Please feel free to forward this to other MCSers that you may know of anywhere on the globe who might like to participate!

For more video and info visit our page on the Center for Independent Documentary Website.

Thank you and all the best,

Susan Abod
Producer, Homesick

ARTICLE RESOURCES

Homesick Documentary Website

Homesick Trailer

Homesick Film on the Center for Independent Documentary Website

Mold In New Homes

Why are so many mold problems found in newer homes? Some theorize the housing boom a decade ago resulted in too many homes going up too quickly. The Columbus Dispatch featured an article on this very issue a couple of years ago. The article, titled “Newer, poorly constructed homes more likely to harbor fungus,” quotes David Stubbs, a specialist in building systems and indoor air quality. Stubbs believes new-home mold problems often come down to poor workmanship.

“If I built a house 80 or 100 years ago, I was a true craftsman,” said Stubbs, who lived in central Ohio before becoming director of facilities planning and construction for Clarke County Schools in Georgia. “I’d build one house a year. … We don’t build like that today. We take shortcuts.”

Other explanations for the rise of mold problems in newer homes include:

• Oriented strand board, which became a common sheathing material for homes about 20 years ago, absorbs and transfers water more readily than plywood, which was the sheathing of choice for older homes. Even when plywood is used today, it is more likely to be three-ply plywood instead of the four- or five-ply used in earlier homes.

• Stucco is thinner than it used to be, with less cement, and is frequently poorly installed, with two thin coats instead of three thick ones.

• Many homes built during the housing boom used a paper vapor barrier, which can be difficult to properly install, instead of Tyvek or other wraps commonly used in the past few years.

• Newer homes are typically built in empty fields, offering no protection from wind, rain and sun – especially a problem on western exposures.

• Homes built in the past 20 years tend to be tighter than older homes and therefore more likely to trap moisture inside if not properly ventilated, creating what Tom Flood, the president of Air Technology in Hilliard, calls a “giant petri dish.” This was especially a problem in the 1980s and ’90s, when builders commonly put plastic between the studs and drywall as a moisture barrier.

• During the housing boom, homes didn’t receive the attention from swamped inspectors that they might have otherwise.

Steve Verssen, owner of Vertech, a Cincinnati inspection service that has been involved in central Ohio mold cases, recalls teaching a group of home inspectors three or four years ago in a Columbus-area home under construction. A building inspector drove up, jotted down some notes on a clipboard and drove off, without ever approaching the home.

“When things were busy, that’s what happened,” Verssen said.

He thinks some mold problems might be caught if inspectors scrutinized the envelope of a building before it is covered by siding – including the sheathing, the weather wrap and window flashing – in addition to the mechanicals and structural items. (Some city inspectors examine building envelopes, but such inspections are rare.)

Zacks (Benjamin Zacks, a principal in the Zacks Law Group in Columbus) agrees and urges homebuyers to test for mold or moisture if they have any doubts, even if the home passed city inspections.

“People think if the house has a bill of occupancy, it’s safe,” he said. “But it might not be.”

Homeowners who do find mold and hope for relief from their insurance companies are likely to be disappointed. According to the Ohio Insurance Institute, most companies dropped standard mold coverage from their language eight or 10 years ago because of the volume of claims.

ARTICLE RESOURCE:

Newer, poorly constructed homes more likely to harbor fungus. Jim Weiker. The Columbus Dispatch. December 12, 2010.

About Andrea Fabry

Andrea Fabry and her husband Chris are the parents of nine children ages 26-10. Due to a toxic mold exposure, the family vacated their Colorado home in October 2008. They relocated to Arizona in January 2009. A former radio journalist, Andrea now actively pursues her passion to raise awareness on issues health, nutrition, and environmental illness. Visit Andrea's websites: Our Health Journey at http://moldrecovery.blogspot.com and momsAWARE at www.MomsAware.org

Diane Sawyer Report on Untested Chemicals in Cosmetics

Diane Sawyer, of ABC News aired a Consumer Watchdog piece, Untested Chemicals in Beauty Products?

Diane said, “It was startling to learn a number today. A hundred and twenty is the answer. 120 chemicals in care products, creams, shampoos, used everyday by women – most of them untested an a lot by men as well. Today, even lawmakers said it was time for a wake-up call …” (ABC World News, 4/30/12).

ABC Senior National Correspondent, Jim Avala went on to explain, “The average woman applies 12 beauty products to her body every day – 120 chemicals. For men, it’s six cosmetics and 80 chemicals.”

The report gave a small example of problematic chemicals such as formaldehye, dioxane, lead, parabens, mercury, toluene, diethyl phthalate (allergies, hormone disrupters, dermatitis in perfume) stating that Europe has banned 1,200 chemicals, which the U.S. has only banned 10.

The report featured the Breast Cancer Fund Director of Program and Policy, Janet Nudelman who discusses the Safe Cosmetics Act, supported by the Breast Cancer Fund and Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

ADDITIONAL RELATED STORIES ON IDA

Creating a Fragrance-Free Zone – A Friendlier Atmosphere for Those Living with Environmental Illness

Fragrance and Chemical Tidbits Information Sheet

Parabens Found in 99 Percent of Mastectomy Tissues

Radio Interview with Environmental Engineer and Researcher

Scented Consumer Products Show to Emit Many Unlisted Chemicals

Scented Laundry Products Emit Hazardous Chemicals Through Dryer Vents

Study Reveals Unlisted Chemicals in Consumer Products

Toxic Chemicals in Fragranced Laundry Products and Health Effects

Spring Cleaning Tips

Spring cleaning dates back to the ancient Jewish practice of thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of the springtime memorial feast of Passover.

In Persia, the new year falls on the first day of spring. Iranians continue the practice of khooneh tekouni, which means “shaking the house.” Everything is cleaned, from drapes to furniture.

People have long understood the connection between cleanliness and health. When we do a thorough cleaning of our home, we improve the air quality and therefore our health. By investing time and energy in this time-honored custom, we offer a much-needed boost to our own and our family’s immune systems.

Spring is the ideal time to do a deep cleaning, as the windows can be open without intrusion from bugs and heat. Here are ten suggestions for making this year’s spring cleaning a resounding success!

1. Plan ahead and prioritize. Pick one day or a series of days. Mark them on the calendar. Set realistic goals. Pick areas of the home that are often overlooked.

2. Involve the whole family. Children are more capable than we realize. Research suggests that kids who are actively involved in the work of the household gain self-esteem, confidence, and a strong work ethic. Encourage your spouse to participate.

3. De-clutter. The Jewish spring-cleaning tradition requires that every drawer, closet, and cabinet be cleaned and inspected for any item which is no longer needed. Use the opportunity to “clear out” and keep only those things that are used and/or needed. If it hasn’t been used for a year or more, chances are you no longer need it. Call your favorite thrift store or charity to schedule a pickup. Having a date on the calendar will add further motivation.

4. Take everything out. When tackling a closet, shelf, or drawer, take everything out first. It’s tempting to dust around things or do a half-hearted job. Taking everything out before cleaning insures a more rewarding experience. You’ll also make better decisions, since it can be easier to discard rather than put back.

5. Use natural products. Spring is a perfect time to incorporate cheap and natural cleaning products. *Discard your chemical products and try white vinegar and baking soda. Add some essential oils for a pleasant aroma during cleaning. Before disposing of chemicals, look for a hazardous waste disposal site near you.

For more on integrating natural products into your home, see A Naturally Clean Kitchen and The Naturally Healthy Bathroom, as well as our Natural Year Challenge: Household Edition.

6. Download our free checklist: The momsAWARE Dustbusting Dozen – Pay attention to hidden dust collectors. Refrigerator coils, vents, fans, blinds, drapes, and other dust-prone areas may receive little attention during the year. Dust can be a breeding ground for mold. Tending to these areas significantly improves your indoor air quality.

7. Move one piece of large furniture (at least). Enlist the help of family and vacuum under and behind that sofa, bed, desk, refrigerator, washer and/or dryer.

8. Clean bedding, including pillows. If pillows are not machine-washable, consider replacing them. Pillows can be a source of mold, dust, and odors. At the very least, sprinkle with water and toss in the dryer at a high temperature. Consider washing your bedding and drying in the sun for a special “fresh” feeling.

9. Clean the refrigerator. Check expiration dates and toss unwanted or unusable food items, even when they’re half full. Spring is the perfect time for a fresh start!

10. Reward your hard work! Plan a family movie night, go out to dinner, try a new essential oil, or invest in a book to encourage your desire to run an “all-natural household.” Book suggestions include Better Basics for the Home, The Naturally Clean Home, and Super Natural Home.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Some living with Environmental Illness cannot tolerate vinegar and/or essential oils. Many use just the baking soda and many others use peroxide and water, salt or fragrance and chemical free products from their local heath store. The CIA Campaign’s Store offers many great products at a discount and a portion of the proceeds go to the Invisible Disabilities Association and the CIA Campaign.

All Purpose Mystical Cleaner

Alternative Products for the Hair, Body, Laundry and Home

Allergy and Mold Products: Air Purifiers, Bedding, Vacuums and More

About Andrea Fabry

Andrea Fabry and her husband Chris are the parents of nine children ages 26-10. Due to a toxic mold exposure, the family vacated their Colorado home in October 2008. They relocated to Arizona in January 2009. A former radio journalist, Andrea now actively pursues her passion to raise awareness on issues health, nutrition, and environmental illness. Visit Andrea's websites: Our Health Journey at http://moldrecovery.blogspot.com and momsAWARE at www.MomsAware.org

Eco-Friendly and Chemical-Free Easter Eggs

There are healthy, natural alternatives for just about anything! Including this fun option for dying Easter eggs:

According to The Herb Companion,

Dip the hard-boiled eggs into white vinegar before beginning, and set aside. Then bring each dye ingredient (listed below) to a boil with 4 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar; strain the dyes into small dipping bowls and allow to cool.

To dye eggs, dip them into the bowls for about five minutes, or longer for deeper colors. And be creative! Use two different dyes on one egg to create unique colors, or dye eggs half in one color and half in another. Below are the ingredients you need to get the best colors.

• Gold: Use 4 tablespoons of turmeric.

• Brown: Experiment with about 2 cups of strongly brewed coffee or tea for different shades of tan and brown.

• Purple: Use 4 cups of frozen blueberries.

• Light pink: Use a 12-oz. package of cranberries.

• Dark pink: Use 6 cups of chopped beets.

• Blue: Use 16 cups of chopped red cabbage (use 2 more quarts of water and 6 tablespoons more vinegar for this dye).

A similar article suggests using spinach to obtain the color green.

EDITORS NOTE: Some people with chemical sensitivities cannot tolerate vinegar.

About Andrea Fabry

Andrea Fabry and her husband Chris are the parents of nine children ages 26-10. Due to a toxic mold exposure, the family vacated their Colorado home in October 2008. They relocated to Arizona in January 2009. A former radio journalist, Andrea now actively pursues her passion to raise awareness on issues health, nutrition, and environmental illness. Visit Andrea's websites: Our Health Journey at http://moldrecovery.blogspot.com and momsAWARE at www.MomsAware.org

Parabens Found in 99 Percent of Mastectomy Tissues

Journal of Applied Toxicology published a study on January 12, 2012 finding 99 percent of breast tissue samples from post-mastectomy contained parabens. Tissue was collected in England from 40 patients with primary breast cancer between 2005 and 2008.

Read full study here! Read excerpt from study here!

ARTICLE RESOURCES:

Parabens Seen in Almost All Breast Mastectomy Samples. MDNews.com. January 12, 2012.

Measurement of paraben concentrations in human breast tissue at serial locations across the breast from axilla to sternum. Journal of AppliedToxicology. L. Barr, G. Metaxas, C.A.J. Harbach, L.A. Savoy, P.D. Darbre. Wiley Online Library. January 12 2012.

RELATED STORIES:

Concerning Chemicals in Fabric Softeners

Fragrance Tidbits

Scented Consumer Products Show to Emit Many Unlisted Chemicals

Scented Laundry Products Emit Hazardous Chemicals Through Dryer Vents

Toxic Chemicals in Fragranced Laundry Products and Health Effects

Concerning Chemicals in Fabric Softeners

“Fabric softener ads often portray an image of comfort, freshness and sweetness. Yet most fabric softeners contain a grim list of known toxins which can enter your body through the skin and by inhalation, causing a wide range of health problems, particularly for young children” (NaturalNews).

Read full story here!

ARTICLE RESOURCES:

Fabric softeners contain toxic chemicals. Selena Keegan. NaturalNews.com. January 11, 2012.

RELATED STORIES:

Fragrance Tidbits

Parabens Found in 99 Percent of Mastectomy Tissues

Scented Consumer Products Show to Emit Many Unlisted Chemicals

Scented Laundry Products Emit Hazardous Chemicals Through Dryer Vents

Toxic Chemicals in Fragranced Laundry Products and Health Effects

Amazing Hotel Accommodations for My Challenges

I live with Multiple Sclerosis and Lyme Disease. I get extremely ill from chemicals in cleaning products and synthetic fragrances. This is not rare, as millions report mild to severe reactions to these (even more so with those living with chronic illness, asthma, allergies, chemical sensitivities, cancer, autism, PTSD, migraines, etc). Other than Disney hotels, I have been unable to stay in a hotel for over 10 years due to air fresheners, cleaners and sprays.

Just before Christmas, my brother passed away, so we needed to go to Grand Junction. From several previous failed attempts to find a place to stay anywhere in the area, we were quite scared to try again, but it was imperative that we find a place to stay.

We certainly did not need a hotel as fancy as the Colorado Wine Country Inn, but had exhausted all of the other options and chains. When I called the manager of this hotel (Jerome) and went through my very lengthy list of qualifications (no smoking, no air fresheners, no sprays, room can’t be near laundry, exhaust or outside smoking, etc), he didn’t even blink an eye. He was happy to answer my questions. Once we decided to make a reservation, he didn’t mind cleaning our room and linens in baking soda and vinegar!

The trip there was nerve-wracking as we had to go and we couldn’t just sleep in the car! We also had my mother with us who is battling lung cancer. When we arrived, my husband went in to check out the room and soon waved us in! We were greeted at the door by Joe and found our room to be fabulous!! The room was clean and comfortable and they had a very nice condolence card for our family signed by the staff.

Another great thing I would like to report is that the chefs were well versed in gluten sensitivities and were also able to accommodate our other food allergies.

HOWEVER! Although the room was absolutely fantastic, I do have to share the negatives and warnings about the things we did encounter for others who live with chemical sensitivities, toxic injury, asthma, allergies, etc.

1) They do have an automatic air freshener in the public restrooms off of the lobby (but none in the lobby, halls or rooms). They will be receiving a nice letter from my husband with information about the chemicals in these units, along with several alternatives based on the information found in this website, the Cleaner Indoor Air Campaign.

2) Even though they use a low chlorine type hot-tub, a slight to moderate chlorine smell is in the lobby and lower levels.

3) The neighbors in the winter use wood and pellet stoves; we did not detect this from inside the room, but could when going outside or opening the windows when it was cold outside.

4) This in is in the middle of vineyards, in which pesticides are used in the spring and summer (we went in the winter).

Even with these hurdles, we were able to secure ourselves in the room and get a good night sleep. None of the other hotels my husband tried stepping into in the area were even a slight possibility.

We cannon thank the Colorado Wine Country Inn enough for taking such great care of us!!

WARNING: I can’t guarantee how your experience will be at this hotel or any other. Please try ay hotel at your own risk after calling to ensure they do not use what you cannot tolerate, asking them to make accommodations and having a back-up plan in case it doesn’t work out! We went through all of the proper steps last summer, but still could not tolerate the room whatsoever.

TIDBITS: Nearly 38% of the population reports some sort of adverse health effect from chemicals in fragrances. Approximately 15% or more knowingly live with chemical sensitivities; it is suspected that many more do as well, but do not make the connection between their symptoms and the source. According to a 2010 study, of the 133 VOCs found in 25 everyday products, “24 are classified as toxic or hazardous under U.S. federal laws and each product emitted at least one of these compounds” (2010 Anne Steinemann, Ph.D).

Visit the Cleaner Indoor Air Campaign for more information about chemicals, fragrances and chemical sensitivities:  (a campaign of the Invisible Disabilities Association).

About Sherri

Sherri has always been an extremely active person. She used to cheer-lead, sing and dance in musicals, act in commercials, work multiple jobs and obtained 3 college degrees. However, she has been unable to work or care for her daily needs since 1991, due to Progressive Multiple Sclerosis and Chronic-Late Lyme Disease. She lives with unbearable and disabling pain, fatigue and cognitive disorders 24x7. She also has Chemical Sensitivities, which has kept her very isolated from friends and family. Sherri is not a medical professional, please seek advice from your doctor before making any changes to your healthcare or lifestyle.

Our Vehicle Journey

When we left our home in October 2008, we brought our cars. We didn’t have much choice. In retrospect I might have agreed to borrow a car until we could figure out a course of action, but we were consumed with finding shelter and replacing necessities.

We vacuumed and wiped them with white vinegar.

Within a couple of weeks we noticed that our symptoms increased when we rode in our 9-passenger Suburban. My worry about cross-contamination increased as well.

In the end we discovered we hadn’t cross-contaminated. According to testing performed later, the cars were clean. But our symptoms were heightened when riding in the Suburban. We simply had to replace it. Most people could tolerate the car just fine, so 6 weeks after we left our home we traded it for a used Honda Odyssey with leather seats. That car felt better. Our headaches and congestion improved. We kept our second car, a Honda CR-V, and tried to use it as little as possible.

In December 2008, I traveled to Arizona with several of our children. Slowly the rest of the family followed. Our three oldest daughters relocated, then our high school senior, Ryan. Four vehicles came with them.

We noticed adverse reactions when riding in any of our old cars. Our multiple chemical sensitivity kicked in shortly after vacating our home. Therefore, any air fresheners or chemicals previously used were no longer tolerated.

We found ways to cope with our older vehicles. Regular HEPA vacuuming helped, and so did wiping down the inside with *tea tree oil and other essential oils. Changing cabin filters might have helped. Here’s what one allergy-friendly website says about cabin filters:

What is a car cabin air filter?

Many car owners don’t even realize that such a part exists in their vehicles, much less if it ever needs to be changed. But, no matter if they know it or not, a cabin air filter is an essential part of your car’s ventilation system that removes pollutants from the air before they get inside the passenger compartment. They were originally designed to remove solid contaminants like dust and soot from circulating inside your vehicle, but can now also absorb gases and odors. Cabin air filters may also be known as passenger compartment filters, interior ventilation filters, pollen filters or dust filters.

Why are the cabin air filters used?

It is an undisputed fact that roadways (especially major highways, especially during rush hours) are some of the major sources of air pollution. Therefore, as you are driving, you are forced to breathe the air tainted with exhaust fumes, dust and soot particles, many of which may pose a serious hazard to your health.

The cabin air filter is there to prevent all those pollutants from entering the passenger compartment.

Why and how often should you change the cabin air filter?

Eventually, a cabin air filter starts to lose its effectiveness, as it gets dirty with use. This may result in unpleasant odor, and decreased heating and air conditioning performance caused by restricted airflow through the filter.

It is recommended to replace the cabin air filter at least once a year or every 12,000 to 15,000 miles – more often if your vehicle is operated primarily in areas of heavy pollution or dusty conditions.

Are cabin air filters difficult to replace?

Cabin air filters are typically located under a vehicle’s dashboard or attached to the glove box. Others may be located in the engine compartment. In nearly all cases, cabin air filters can be changed in as little as 10 minutes.

For instructions on replacing the cabin air filter on a particular car model, go to the Car Cabin Air Filters Main Page and find your vehicle under the appropriate category.

Despite all of the filtration options, it was clear that we needed to replace our vehicles. It took more than two years.

Yesterday afternoon we sold the last car from Colorado. It’s been a slow, arduous process. Finding affordable, used cars with no history of air fresheners, chemicals, or mold has not been easy.

The sale of this last vehicle marks the end of a chapter. The old life is slowly passing. Somehow it also feels like a new beginning.

*Please note that many with chemical sensitivities also react to essential oils and/or vinegar. Seek advice from your medical professional before trying any new products or tips and use with your own discretion.

About Andrea Fabry

Andrea Fabry and her husband Chris are the parents of nine children ages 26-10. Due to a toxic mold exposure, the family vacated their Colorado home in October 2008. They relocated to Arizona in January 2009. A former radio journalist, Andrea now actively pursues her passion to raise awareness on issues health, nutrition, and environmental illness. Visit Andrea's websites: Our Health Journey at http://moldrecovery.blogspot.com and momsAWARE at www.MomsAware.org