A judge has ruled that a couple must remove a modular housing unit from their property despite it being the only safe haven for the wife who suffers from multiple chemical sensitivity.
Judge Carol McGinley of Lehigh County, Pennsylvannia in the United States has told Craig Bowes that a modular housing unit constructed of steel and porcelain must be removed from his property because he does not have the required permits.
Bowes' wife, Elizabeth Feudale, suffers from multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) and requires a completely chemical-free environment to avoid triggering potentially very serious symptoms.
Despite Bowes' explaining that removing the specially constructed unit could mean "a death sentence" for his wife, the judge said that while she sympathized with Elizabeth's health problems, there was no excuse for ignoring local planning regulations.
Research suggests that MCS is a neurological disorder stemming from acute or chronic exposure to various synthetic chemicals such as pesticides, solvents, adhesives and perfumes. Insufficient ability of the sufferer's liver to detoxify such chemicals for whatever reason is also thought to contribute to the initiation and maintainance of the condition.
Upon breathing the tiniest amounts of various chemicals sufferers experience symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, disorientation, headaches, fatigue, and breathing difficulties.
As with any other disease the severity of MCS varies between patients. Some people suffering from MCS may be able to avoid triggering symptoms simply by removing sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) chemicals such as household cleaning and personal care products from their homes. Others, such as Elizabeth Feudale, must take more extreme measures such as moving to remote areas with clean air or constructing entirely chemical free homes in which to live.
One solution for American MCS sufferers and that which Elizabeth and her husband turned to was the use of refurbished modular homes built in the late 1940s. These homes were built by the Lustron Corporation as a solution to the housing shortage at the time, particularly for soldiers returning from WWII. What makes these homes perfect for those suffering from MCS is that they are constructed from steel frames with porcelain/enamel panels. Both of these materials are entirely inert and do therefore not give off any VOCs which could trigger symptoms.
Steel constructed mobile homes/trailers that are stripped down are also frequently found to be a good safe haven for those most actuely sensitive to VOCs.
Unfortunately such extreme measures are often required for MCS sufferers to find relief because construction materials and furnishings used in conventional homes in modern times are major sources of the troublesome VOCs that plague those affected by the condition. Examples include the solvents and glues found in particle board (used for partition walls and furniture) and flame retardents applied to most soft furnishings.
Unfortunately MCS is poorly understood and remains a controversial diagnosis and those affected, such as Elizabeth Feudale, often suffer further because of this at the hands of healthcare providers and public officials.