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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 email@example.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,
Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR)’s Environmental Health Policy Institute, an online forum of physicians, health professionals, and environmental health experts, published the following article in response to the question, “How does our food production system drive our exposure to toxic chemicals?“
The author, Dr. Joanne Perron, offers this eye-opening answer, drawing on her personal journey with breast cancer and her years of experience as a physician.
As an OB/GYN who trained at Los Angeles County/USC Women’s Hospital during its heyday of 18,000 deliveries per year, I saw countless women with fibroids and ovarian masses the size of term pregnancies and an overwhelming number of third-world-like adverse birth outcomes, maternal and fetal. In those ancient times of the late 80s-early 90s, the prevailing wisdom was that these women, who often lacked preventive care, were the unfortunate carriers of bad genes. When people ask me how I first became interested in environmental causes of disease, I recall that I privately thought, never risking professional scorn as a resident, there had to be another component that conventional medical teachings ignored which contributed to the adverse reproductive disorders I was learning about.
Of course then, my cursory knowledge was only of acute pesticides exposures since many of my patients were migrant farm workers. I surmised that there were mutagenic or genotoxic mechanisms from pesticides responsible for their health problems, but other than the nature vs. nurture debate, had never heard of epigenetic mechanisms in my medical training. So fast forward to 2001 when I started training in integrative medicine with Andrew Weil at the University of Arizona, Tucson. This is when I first heard the term xenoestrogens. I started wondering if chemicals in the water and food supply could be related to the reproductive disorders I was increasingly seeing in a middle class population. I say increasingly, because even women who came to see me for their annual “well woman” exam seemed to have an inordinate number of complaints such as abnormal bleeding, pelvic pain, endometriosis, fibroids, fibrocystic breasts, ovarian cysts, or PMS. And most of these women did not work in agriculture.
I also started wondering if all of the cases of non-familial pre-menopausal breast cancer were due to some environmental causes. And then in 2004, at age 45, having breast fed my sons, never smoked, eaten healthy, and exercised regularly, I too got the diagnosis of breast cancer. And I was the kid who actually liked eating eggplant and other “weird” vegetables. With no family history of breast cancer, I started serious study of the potential environmental causes of breast cancer and while I am aware of the multitude of other environmental contaminants, pesticides were something, as a beginner, I could wrap my mind around.
A close friend from childhood, Kristie, who lived 4 houses away, died at 38 from breast cancer. She had no family history of breast cancer. Additionally, both of her sisters had unexplained infertility (their mom was a “fertile Myrtle”). With every high school reunion, I heard of former classmates who had passed away from different types of cancer. We grew up in the west San Fernando Valley, which had mostly ranches and agriculture until the post WWII building boom. In the late 1950s to early 1970s, many of the schools and residences abutted orange groves, onion fields, and corn fields. Not only do I recall frequent spraying of nearby fields, but also the sweet smell of regular misting from the mosquito trucks during the summer months.
Did early pesticide exposure cause my individual case of breast cancer? My scientific training informs me that I will never know for sure. However, a large body of data is beginning to point the finger at early life, including in-utero, pesticide exposure as a crucial factor in many adverse health outcomes, some occurring many years after initial exposure, that clinicians see on a daily basis, including birth defects, reproductive disorders (male and female), cancers, metabolic disease, neurodevelopmental disorders, and neurological diseases.
To this day, when I talk about epigenetics to same-age colleagues in the trenches, some are disbelieving because they didn’t learn about it in medical school and the journals that they read don’t mention epigenetics, oxidative stress, or even endocrine disruption with linkage to adverse health outcomes. The sentinel 2009 Endocrine Society Scientific Statement should be mandatory reading for every health care professional before assuming practice or getting recertified. Most importantly, it states that there is evidence that endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can have effects on human reproduction, breast development and cancer, prostate cancer, neuroendocrinology, thyroid, metabolism and obesity, and cardiovascular endocrinology. I admit it took my brain a bit of time to rewire and integrate an understanding of the mechanisms underlying epigenetic factors of disease and to appreciate that disruption of the intricate orchestrated endocrine signaling is more complicated than the lock and key theory of hormone function that I learned many moons ago.
This is just a brief summation of the science and concerns that scientists have about pesticides and other EDCs, but what about the local anecdotes that I frequently observe or hear about? From two different sources, I have learned that Stanford hospital receives most of its cases of congenital cardiac defects and childhood cancers from the Salinas valley. Also, that the Monterey/Salinas cancer clinicians are seeing more cases of premenopausal breast cancer from the Salinas area. Monterey County, the salad bowl of the US and the biggest producer of strawberries, is my home. It is an area of exquisite natural beauty, but has some of California’s most polluted streams and rivers from agricultural run-off. I shudder to think of the quality of our drinking water. To add to our woes and potentially contaminate our ground water even more, a great big experiment may soon occur on those who live in proximity to strawberry fields with the December 2010 approval by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation for the use of Über-toxic methyl iodide to fumigate those fields.
Neither does the Pacific Ocean escape the toxic effects of pesticides; the Salinas and Pajaro river watersheds drain those same pesticide laden fields and empty into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS). Perusal of the MBNMS maps on this site clearly illustrates the color red to indicate “impaired” rivers. Meanwhile, the fishermen wonder where all the salmon have gone and I wonder about the local tide pools that once teemed with loads of hermit crabs, urchins, and starfish for John Steinbeck and my little boys to learn about.
I try not to turn into an Eeyore when I discuss these issues with those I am trying to educate. I often think about the messaging we use in this line of work and how we could better persuade those who are comfortable with the status quo or those who lack knowledge and understanding of the connections between the pervasive use of dangerous chemicals and the health of future generations. At one time I preached about a future scenario similar to the book and movie “Children of Men,” but that didn’t win me any converts. Now, I jokingly tell colleagues that I want to design tee shirts that say “Bugger off, don’t methylate my DNA or perturb my thyroid!” or “Halogens are not for children and other living things.” Mostly, I just breathe deep and acknowledge that I am a foot soldier to take this information to clinicians, policy makers, and patients, but as with many issues in public health this may be a long and arduous march.
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.
ADDITIONAL RELATED STORIES ON IDA
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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).
Fabric softeners contain toxic chemicals. Selena Keegan. NaturalNews.com. January 11, 2012.
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).
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.
Earlier this year (2011), my husband and I had to take a trip to California for medical reasons. Since we were already going to be there, we decided to first stop in Disneyland for some much needed fun!
This was a huge endeavor, not only because I have Multiple Sclerosis and Lyme Disease, but because I also have severe chemical sensitivities and food allergies. Turns out that they were extremely knowledgeable about food allergies, so that was awesome. Read more here!
The biggest fear was that we had never taken a long road trip and we had no idea if I would even be able to stay in a hotel, because of all the chemicals commonly used to clean them. However, they were extremely helpful regarding the room! In fact, they are accustomed to cleaning rooms without chemicals for those who request it and they even have linens and towels that have not been washed in fragranced detergents.
Even arranging all of this, it was a gamble, because the regular use of chemical cleaners and sprays usually linger in carpets, walls and beds. Nonetheless, I am elated to report that the room was delightfully wonderful! I didn’t notice and residuals at all!
The only issue I had was when the housekeepers cleaned the room below me, it wafted up into the vent. We shut it off and left the room. It was fine later.
Of course there were other concerns that could not be helped, in which I had to take care to avoid. For example, housekeeping carts and other sprays in halls. Also, being exposed to laundry detergents, soaps, lotions, deodorants, sunscreens and more from the people in the parks. So, we scheduled the stay during a very quiet time and thankfully I only ran into it briefly a couple of times. In addition, there are rides and shows that have fragrances emitted; but the accessibility crew helped us map those out so that we didn’t go near them.
Finally, the last concern on the agenda were the air fresheners in the park restrooms. Since I am unable to enter a bathroom with those in it, I wouldn’t have have anywhere to go.
My husband 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 removed the automatic air fresheners in all of the Health Centers in all of the Parks in both Disneyland and Disney World for the sake of those with environmental illness! Yay! Read more here!
Please note, there are still other fragrance chemicals in the park. I am only writing about their removal of the air fresheners in the Health Centers and how they accommodated me for my stay. I can’t guarantee how your experience will be at Disneyland or at any other hotel or resort. In fact, after our wonderful stay at Disneyland, we booked a hotel so that I could visit family I had not gone to see in over 5 years. Even though they claim they cleaned with the products and did not spray anything, the room was thick with chemicals. We had to pay for the room even though we immediately left. My husband drove up and down the road checking out other hotels, but none were tolerable! It was a nightmare!
Video above of Sherri interviewing Pluto and Minnie and thanking Disney for all they did.
The term, Environmental Illness, is generally used to describe a number of mild to severe health responses to the environment, whether it be such things as: food, plants, animals, smoke, smog, chemicals or electromagnetic fields. Most people are familiar with allergies to our surroundings that can range from mild seasonal allergies to trees and grasses to severe anaphylaxis to peanuts. Many people even know how asthma is a closing of the airways that can be triggered by many different … [MORE]
Copyright 1996-2019, Cleaner Indoor Air, a Campaign of the Invisible Disabilities Association. A 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization.