Daily Archives: January 17, 2010

On being an environmental refugee in Ontario

People with any other disability are allowed appropriate health care and related aids, tax breaks, subsidies, insurance benefits, accommodations, and accessible housing. People with chemical injury, with MCS/ES, are denied access and even obstructed at every turn.

By Linda Sepp.

This is an excerpt from what I sent to Ontario politicians for Earth Day 2009:

People with any other disability are allowed appropriate health care and related aids, tax breaks, subsidies, insurance benefits, accommodations, and accessible housing. People with chemical injury, with MCS/ES, are denied access and even obstructed at every turn.

The same synthetic substances that people with MCS/ES have been disabled by for years (we’re like canaries in the coal mine) now cause cancer and other chronic health problems in too many people. Children are especially vulnerable in so many ways.

This incredible suffering is preventable, and not an acceptable economic activity!

Healthy non-toxic environments allow people with MCS/ES to lead livable lives, instead of struggling to barely survive. Healthy housing, safe food and water are key needs. Simple needs. Basic health care needs. When these are met, everyone benefits.

Healthy people can create healthy economies. Sick people will drive it to a halt.

Almost 25 years ago Ontario had a guidance document to do the right thing. Instead of acting on it, many more people have been made to suffer in unimaginably difficult and trying circumstances. Too many do not make it. And more are discovering the horrors.

It’s time something was done to respect people with MCS/ES, and help them live in safety and dignity. Doing this will also make the environment safer for all citizens.

The Honourable George Thomson, in 1985:

“I chaired a committee on environmental sensitivities established by Ontario’s Ministry of Health. The committee included two eminent teaching hospital physicians and a highly respected epidemiologist. We issued a report that identified existing, publicly funded means of diagnosis, and accepted various methods of patient management, including avoidance of offending agents.

Equally important in our minds were measures, such as income support, that would provide concrete assistance to members of this vulnerable group and reduce the risk of preventable harm.

… We also called for further research and the development of services to support that research, while also helping those who were experiencing a wide range of very difficult symptoms. We did not feel that more research was needed before these and other measures were introduced to protect patients from being caused harm through inappropriate labelling or the denial of reasonable accommodation.”

George M. Thomson, B.A., LL.B., LL.M.

What can you do to make sure safe water, food, clothing and housing are available and accessible to those of us who need them?

Linda Sepp

Why am I begging for clean air and water?

Chemical injury can happen to anyone.

(Note: Don’t miss the resources list at the end of the post.)

By Linda Sepp

It’s really hard to allow myself to think about the implications of my current situation. I’m forced to beg for un-petro-chemically-polluted air, water, food, clothing and housing.

Seems most people would rather not change their habits, both belief and practical, that they’d rather stubbornly maintain the belief that the government is protecting them, that this could never happen to them, that there must have been something bad I did to be in this position, that otherwise the safety net would be providing the help I need.

Chemical injury can happen to anyone. Some of us get cancer, or asthma, or alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or MS, autism, ADD, or ADHD. Others develop Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (sensitivities is a misnomer–multiple chemical hells would be more apt) or Environmental Sensitivities, as it is more commonly called in Canada (MCS/ES).

What this means is that our bodies are negatively affected by minute quantities of chemicals. Sometimes it’s more of an annoyance on par with seasonal allergies, but often, when the body cannot escape exposures, the symptoms become completely debilitating and life threatening. Think being drugged and unable to think or function, in pain for weeks, and the only things that help are clean air, food and water. Things that are in short supply now, things we have no control over unless we are wealthy enough to buy 100 acres in the middle of no-where, so that someone’s dryer vent or pesticides don’t blow toxic chemicals our way, a place to have our own safe home with air and water filtration systems… things most people don’t notice because they are themselves covered in so many chemicals, living and working in neuro-toxic environments, finding it harder and harder to get by themselves, even begrudging our need for those things as frivolous.

So we become the hidden and often homeless. Invisibly disabled, abandoned, ignored and ridiculed. How is it possible that inhaling anyone’s laundry product or body spray could disable someone for over a week? That there are no clothes that are chemical free? That all housing has been allowed to be completely contaminated by useless chemical residues allowed into fragranced personal care or cleaning products, or worse yet, those so called air-fresheners? How could a few inches of some simple caulk render someone semi-comatose for 4 months? How are neuro-toxic, carcinogenic, endocrine disrupting chemicals allowed into things we slather onto our bodies, wash our clothes with, rinse into our water supplies, in our foods, and in building materials? Synthetic petro-chemicals that will injure people’s brains and central nervous systems? How indeed.

Protecting Industry is more important than protecting public health. It is that simple. The same chemical industry that creates all the toxins that cause so many chronic or otherwise debilitating illnesses, also supplies the pharmaceutical companies with synthetic petro-chemical ingredients to make drugs that will hopefully alleviate some of the symptoms of our damaged bodies without killing us completely in the process. This is called making a killing financially and keeping the economy growing.

Continue reading

My chemical-free clothing needs

My need to secure chem-free clothing is urgent.

By Linda Sepp.

As I wrote previously, my clothing situation is dire. I have less than a dozen items left that are safe for me to wear, all of them are in shreds and I have been wearing the same ragged outfit, almost 24/7, for about five months. It’s all I have that I can wear, and it is almost unwearable. None of it is suitable to wear in public, or warm enough for winter. All it will need to be thrown out very, very soon.

So, what does a person need re clothing? Is there a socially accepted human rights list of what someone should have? Or how many changes of clothing? Am I still human enough to “deserve” more than one set of safe clothes? Or clothes that are wearable in public?

Here are some thoughts on chemical-free clothing:

Most organic cotton clothing includes either the seed (an irritant) or is processed with chemicals and synthetic dyes. It is often contaminated with pesticides and other chemicals in storage and shipping. I’ve not been able to detox those types of things.

I have had no success with organic cotton goods from India or China, and best success with organic cotton from Peru and Texas/USA. European regulations are also much stronger than elsewhere.

There is only one company with some clothing listed as being completely chemical-free, some made especially for people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. If anyone knows of more sources for truly chemical-free clothing and footwear, please send the info.

NOTE: added January 2013

Please see the list of safer alternatives here:


NOTE: added September 19,2012.

So many people are looking for chemical free clothing. There is a real need for it. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to exist.

I do NOT recommend Rawganique or the things listed below. Their product quality is not good, their customer service is horrid, and their products are NOT chemical free at all. They took just as much effort to detox as some regular clothing. See the post Laundry Decontamination Protocols.

An example of how the Rawganique advertising is misleading, if not completely untruthful: “Made from 100% hemp canvas from organic European hemp. Made in Europe. Sweatshop-free. No harsh chemicals or heavy metals were used in the production of our vegan hemp indoor slippers.”

Black foam inserts are not mentioned anywhere on the description.

I wore them out in less than a year, my feet sweated profusely whenever I did wear them, but my floors here are cold and painful without slippers.

I am going to put together a list of clothing suppliers that people with MCS have had some success with, but since people’s sensitivities vary, there are no sure things, yet…

Anyway, I now return you to the rest of the original post with what was my clothing wish list back in January 2010.

Clothing Brand: Rawganique

Rawganique, home-based in Canada, has listed a number of articles as being completely chemical-free. Chemical-free and undyed clothing has the most chance of success. Even so, numerous washings are required to remove residues from the manufacturing processes.

Suitable items that might work for me are listed below with sizes and colours; I need medium to large, loose fitting, undyed clothing.

RG841 Unisex Certified Organic Cotton Flannel Pajamas
Men’s M
2 different kinds:

  • Pecan Brushed Flannel (colorgrown brown — unbleached & undyed)
  • Natural Organic Cotton Paris Sateen Pyjamas — silky & smooth

Chemical-free. No heavy metals or harsh chemicals whatsoever were used in their production. Bleach-free and dye-free. Fabrics: 5.5 oz organic cotton flannel or 230 ct. organic cotton sateen. Certified by IMO of Switzerland.

Continue reading