Lourdes Salvador's Column
...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.
Lourdes Salvador volunteers as a writer and social advocate for the recognition of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). She was a passionate advocate for the homeless and worked with her local governor to provide services to the homeless through a new approach she created to end homelessness. That passion soon turned to advocacy and activism for people with MCS and the medical professionals who serve them. She co-founded MCS Awareness in 2005 and went on to found MCS America in 2006. She serves as a partner for Environmental Education Week, a partner for the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE), and a supporter for the American Cancer Society: Campaign for Smokefree Air.
Governors and Mayors Warn of the Health Effects of Toxic Substances in Everyday Products
by Lourdes Salvador
In the United States alone, it is estimated that more than over 48 million men, women, and children suffer adverse health reactions to everyday chemicals.
Toxic chemical injury is an increasing epidemic which leads to emergency department visits, job loss, homelessness, school absenteeism, and serious lifelong chronic illness in America.
Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) affects men, women, and children irregardless of gender, race and economic status. Children are especially vulnerable during development and due to their smaller size.
In response to these alarming statistics, and in an effort to raise public awareness of the risks faced everyday by Americans living with multiple chemical sensitivity and toxic injury, May is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Toxic Injury Awareness Month in America.
Thirty-six governors and mayors across America have already issued proclamations for this important event and more are still pouring in.
Events are held across the United States during May. Each event raises awareness about indoor and outdoor pollutants that trigger multiple chemical sensitivity and toxic injury, as well as ways to prevent toxic injuries and exposures.
Vast efforts have been made by politicians, individuals, and organizations around the world to expand awareness.
Governors and Mayors Speak Out
Many governors and mayors around the country have proclaimed May as Toxic Injury, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, and Electromagnetic Sensitivity Awareness month.
Jodi Rell, governor of Connecticut, recognized all three and said, "Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is a preventable disorder... a chronic condition for which there is no cure... recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act, Social Security Administration, World Health Organization, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other state and national government agencies and commissions."
Rell, along with governors Christine O. Gregoire of Washington, Mayor Thomas P. Perciak of Strongsville Ohio, and others say, "Reasonable accommodations, information about, and recognition of MCS can enable people with MCS to enjoy access to work, schooling, public facilities, and other settings where they can continue to contribute their skills, ideas, creativity, abilities, and knowledge."
Arizona governor Janice K. Brewer informs citizens that, "Toxic substances can cause harmful effect characterized by heightened sensitivity to very small amounts of air pollution, petrochemicals, and other toxins found in our everyday products and environment."
Florida Governor Charlie Crist reminds us that we are all at risk from common chemical exposures when he says, "The health of the general population is at risk from chemical exposures that can lead to this environmentally induced illness." Crist also reminds us that MCS may be preventable through the reduction or avoidance of chemicals in our air, food, water, and indoor/outdoor environments.
Rell also affirms, "The health of the general population is at risk from electromagnetic exposures that can lead to this illness induced by electromagnetic radiation."
The Environmental Working Group has conducted studies which confirm that dozens of chemicals in products we use every day enter the blood of test subjects. These chemicals include flame retardants from furniture and bedding; pesticides from food crops, home use, and commercial applications; heavy metals from food contamination, thermometers, switches, and coal fired power plants; formaldehyde from clothing treatments and other sources; and an assorted chemical cocktail of the nearly 5,000 chemicals which create fragrances that are added to our personal care products, perfumes, soaps, air fresheners, and other scented items.
Few of these chemicals are tested for human safety, despite widespread belief to the contrary. None of them have been tested for synergistic effects in combination.
Brewer states, "Toxic substances may cause multiple illnesses affecting all parts of the body, including the respiratory, central nervous, and immune systems."
Brian Schweitzer, governor of Montana, agrees, "Preventing exposure to harmful chemicals is critical in protecting public health and safety. Reducing of hazardous chemicals in our environment can help eliminate MCS and EI (environmental illnesses)."
Dave Freudenthal, governor of Wyoming, issues another important reminder that toxic injury, "may include multiple often disabling illness and can be life threatening."
Individual proclamations may be viewed at: http://www.mcs-america.org/index_files/proclamations.htm.
Ohio Senators Dale Miller (D-Cleveland) and Kevin Coughlin (R-Cuyahoga Falls) have gone one step further with the introduction of Senate Bill No. 117 which would designate May as MCS Awareness Month in Ohio on an annual basis under the law. This differs from ordinary proclamations which are issued one year at a time. Ohio Senate Bill No. 117 may be viewed at: http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/BillText128/128_SB_117_I_Y.pdf.
Thirty-six governors and 30 mayors also issued Environmental Education Week proclamations stressing the value of and need for environmental education in their states and cities. For more information, visit the Children's Environmental Health Network: Environmental Education Week at http://www.eeweek.org/.
The choices we make as consumers largely govern manufacturers revenues and, hence, the products they choose to market. It is within the power of each of us to select the safest products on the market and let sellers know we want safer ones. To do this, we must educate ourselves at every opportunity and question every claim.
An interesting paradigm exists around marketing. Much advertising is geared toward convincing buyers that it is essential to have and use a product. In reality, many of these ploys are gimmicks to sell unnecessary and often unsafe products.
Clever twists on a scientific study in which it was declared that an office keyboard had more germs on it than a public toilet put fear in millions of people and sold huge amounts of disinfectant spray that made many people ill through the unintentional poisoning office air. Secretaries and staff applied copious amounts of disinfectant to prevent the spread of germs based on this fictitious study claim.
Yet, when this study was examined more closely, it was found that the public toilet in question was cleaned and sanitized daily by a janitor while the keyboard had not been so much as wiped, let alone actually cleaned, in years. The fact remains that if both were cleaned with simple soap and water on a regular basis, the keyboard would have few germs and the toilet would look like germ warfare in comparison. Studies have shown that soap and water works as effectively as anti-bacterial products at reducing germs... without the toxic effects.
Unfortunately, most consumers have been raised to believe what they are told. We trust that we are given accurate information without bias and few think about the biased financial interests of advertisers. This begins at a very early age and advertising is often geared towards children and young adults at a time when they are most impressionable. Few have the knowledge, skill, or understanding to research the claims that advertisers make.
Spreading the Word
The Allergy and Environmental Sensitivity Support and Research Association, Inc. held a Chemical Sensitivity 2009 Seminar in Australia on May 15, 2009. Speaking at the seminar were medical, legal and architectural experts who discussed chemical sensitivity and its impacts on the lives of sufferers and family.
The seminar flyer may be downloaded from: http://www.mcs-america.org/AESSRAChemicalSensitivty09Seminar.pdf.
A press release can be found at: http://www.mcs-america.org/ChemicalSensitivitySeminar2009PressRelease.pdf.
The Allergy and Environmental Sensitivity Support and Research Association, Inc. also distributed a brochure called "Are You Sensitive to Chemicals?" It may be found at: http://www.mcs-america.org/areyousensitivetochemicals.pdf.
In Florida, Christiane Tourtet, Founder and President of International MCS/EMS Awareness, arranged for Observance of multiple chemical sensitivity and electromagnetic sensitivity through a library display at the LeRoy Collins Leon County Library in Tallahassee, Florida. Photographs may be found at: http://www.nettally.com/prusty/Formww.htm.
In Parma Heights, Ohio, seminars were presented in collaboration with the Ohio Network for the Chemically Injured on various topics. They included:
Eating Green with Jeff Heinen http://www.cuyahogalibrary.org/EventDetail.aspx?EventInstanceID=32707 Wednesday, May 13, 2009 7:00 PM
The Environment and Your Health http://www.cuyahogalibrary.org/EventDetail.aspx?EventInstanceID=32705 Wednesday, May 06, 2009 7:00 PM
The University of New Mexico Center for Development and Disability has issued their Third Edition of Tips for First Responders.
According to publishers, "Tips for First Responders, a 14-page, color-coded, laminated 4.5 x 5.5-inch field guide. For the third edition a tip sheet has been added that offers information to first responders on how to assist Childbearing Women and Newborns. Tips also include persons with a wide range of disabilities, as well as Seniors, People with Service Animals, People with Mobility Challenges, People with Mental Illness, Blind or Visually Impaired People, Deaf or Hard of Hearing People, People with Autism, People with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and People with Cognitive Disabilities.
The tip sheets provide information first responders can use during emergencies as well as routine encounters. They are not meant to be comprehensive, but contain specific information that you can read quickly either before or while responding to an incident. Over 80,000 copies of the tips have been ordered by first responders across the country.
Partners in developing the Tip Sheets include the Bureau of Health Emergency Management, New Mexico Department of Health; the New Mexico Governor's Commission on Disability; the American Association on Health and Disability; and the Disability and Health Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
The PDF Version of the Tips for First Responders may be viewed at http://cdd.unm.edu/products/tips3rdedition.pdf.
The Tips for First Responders order form for printed copies may be downloaded from http://cdd.unm..edu/products/TIPSheetOrderForm.pdf.
Most people spend approximately 60% of their time indoors according to the Allergy and Environmental Sensitivity Support and Research Association Inc. (AESSRA) on a recent radio show, "Trends and Products: our worsening indoor air". "As we move to conserve energy in our houses we often need to close off the house -- but this means less air flow and more potential for a poor quality of indoor air, " according to the AESSRA. For more information and to listen to the show, see http://www.abc.net.au/rn/bydesign/stories/2009/2562183.htm.
MCS America reminds us of several important statistics related to MCS in their press release http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/100998.
MCS is a Major Public Health Concern
-At least 45 million people in the US report sensitivity to various chemicals.
-About 3 million Americans are diagnosed with MCS.
-MCS affects people of all ages, economic status, race, and both genders.
-Chemicals that people with MCS react to are toxic and affect everyone to some extent.
-Brain scans show reduced blood flow to the brain when people with MCS are under chemical exposure.
-Physical variances identified in MCS include brain inflammation, oxidative stress, excitotoxicity, cardiac and airway disease, and auto-immune disorders.
-Mast cell activation and disorders of porphyrin metabolism have been linked to MCS.
-Genetic variations relating to detoxification processes have been linked to MCS.
The Cost of Environmental Illnesses
-Annual expenditures for healthcare and lost productivity due to MCS are estimated at $71.8 billion dollars per year.
-Indoor and outdoor environmental exposures can trigger reactions: perfumes and fragrances, cleaning solutions, scented laundry products, pesticides, herbicides, paint and building materials, gasoline and petroleum based products, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.
MCS Can be Controlled
-MCS can be controlled with a plan that includes avoidance and control of environmental triggers; many people with MCS can lead normal, healthy, and active lives.
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
Copyrighted 2009 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America