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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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,
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.
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.
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 could not be changed, such as stores that carry perfumes and candles, rides and exhibits that emit fragrances or smoke, as well as the people in the parks wearing perfumes, fragranced lotions, deodorants and sunscreens. Therefore, DSGD also provided a list of rides that emit fragrances, smoke or contain chlorine, which was very helpful. As a result, 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 for Sherri? 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 chemical 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.
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.
NOTE: We are not claiming that these parks and hotels are fully accessible to people with chemical sensitivities. We are only reporting on their action to remove the air fresheners from the Health Care Centers, as well as the hotel and chefs’ efforts to make the stay possible for Wayne and Sherri. Please call ahead of time to make sure the air fresheners are still removed in the Health Care Centers before you make your plans. Also, keep in consideration of the hotels, rides and exhibits that spray fragrances. Request a list. Discuss possible barriers with the hotel, your needs and determine if you think it may be possible for you to stay there. Also, be aware of the guests who use fragrances, fragranced products and sunscreens. Make a determination if you are able to visit Disneyland or Disney World, based on your personal medical conditions, chemical and food sensitivities or allergies.
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.
Scented laundry products emit hazardous chemicals through dryer vents. The same University of Washington researcher who used chemical sleuthing to deduce what’s in fragranced consumer products now has turned her attention to the scented air wafting from household laundry vents.
“This is an interesting source of pollution because emissions from dryer vents are essentially unregulated and unmonitored,” said lead author Anne Steinemann, a UW professor of civil and environmental engineering and of public affairs. “If they’re coming out of a smokestack or tail pipe, they’re regulated, but if they’re coming out of a dryer vent, they’re not.” The research builds on earlier work that looked at what chemicals are released by laundry products, air fresheners, cleaners, lotions and other fragranced consumer products. Read Full Press Release Here
Steinemann, Anne C. Exposure Assessment. Civil and Environmental Engineering and Public Affairs. University of Washington.
Sherri battles Multiple Sclerosis and Chronic Lyme Disease on a daily basis. She also lives with severe neurological reactions to chemicals that create synthetic fragrances. She is not alone, as millions report various mild to severe adverse health effects when exposed to chemical fragrances.
Sherri wrote on her YouTube Channel, But I LOOK Good: “Exposure to perfumes, colognes and other chemical fragrances can cause people living with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (Chemical Injury, Environmental Illness, Toxic Encephalopathy) such debilitating symptoms as migraines, pain, vertigo, memory loss, brain damage and worsening of condition with each reaction. … Sadly, many with MCS often miss out on family gatherings, special events and even simple visits with friends and family, causing them to feel isolated and alone.”
Don’t miss this very informative and enlightening audio interview about chemicals in every day personal care products and cleaners. Anne C. Steinemann, Ph.D is a highly respected professor and researcher who has made some very cutting edge discoveries.
This is a must listen to interview for all living with environmental illness, their loved ones and the general public!
In 2010, the University of Washington completed a study that revealed the emissions of unlisted chemicals in common fragranced products such as air fresheners, laundry products, soaps, lotions, deodorants, shampoos and cleaning products.
“Of the 133 different chemicals detected, nearly a quarter are classified as toxic or hazardous under at least one federal law.” …. “All were widely used brands, with more than half being the top-selling product in its category” (Exposure Assessment). Read Full Press Release Here
Steinemann, Anne C. Exposure Assessment. Civil and Environmental Engineering and Public Affairs. University of Washington.
A Fragrance-Free Zone is a smoke, fragrance and chemical free area, designed for those who report mild to serious reactions to these items. Adding a Fragrance-Free Zone can help many in our community work and frequent your establishment in comfort.
At first glance, we may think there are enough people who struggle with these issues to justify the hassle of providing a Fragrance-Free Zone. However, for every 100 people in America, there is an average of 10 with asthma, 20 with an autoimmune disorder and/or 12.5 with MCS.
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.