Monthly Archives: March 2012

Water filtration for washing machines?

I’m hoping some day to get a washing machine, but the whole house water filtration that was installed here does not filter the water sufficiently to safely wash my clothes with. I would also have problems with the rubber residues from most hoses.

In Toronto we rigged up a Y hose with a shower filter to one of the intakes on the old machine, and controlled the water temperature manually from the taps instead of via machine, but the water pressure was nearly non-existent in that house.

I’ve been told that regular shower filters would crack from the water pressure in a place with normal water pressure if used on a washing machine.

Does anyone know if there are any water filters that are designed to be safely attached to washing machines?

HRVs are great! Unless…

I love having a heat recovery ventilation system (HRV).  It’s a system that expels stale (or toxic air) and brings in some kind of filtered fresh air from outside.

It’s great, unless it’s not working or is sucking in toxic chemicals from the outdoor air.

Someone recently asked me how I was able to keep so many of my things, including some that might still be off-gassing toxic chemicals, and the HRV is the answer. Without the HRV I would have to give up even more of my possessions than I already did.

The one here has broken down a number of times since I arrived, leaving me without fresher indoor air  for days, or even weeks at a time, which is a problem because my brain becomes sluggish when I don’t have decent air to breathe…

The unit here is 17+ years old, and the company doesn’t offer activated carbon filled filters for the model that was installed. Activated carbon filters would be helpful, even necessary for people with MCS to have, since the carbon in those filters helps remove things like the toxic VOCs from laundry products, woodsmoke, BBQ fuels, etc (name your outdoor poisons). Instead, I have had to turn the unit off whenever those fumes are being sucked inside, and turn it back on when it’s safe to do so again, when the air outside is no longer saturated, usually when the wind has changed directions, or late at night after people stop doing laundry and shut down their  fireplaces.  That might be why this unit has been breaking down, in addition to its age, it might not have been designed to be shut off and on so frequently.

I did find a place (NEEDS) that sells custom made filters for furnaces and they could make some for the HRV, but they would cost around $50 each + shipping, and would need to be replaced every 3 months. The current filters, which are provided, cost about $10 each. They won’t provide the carbon ones, and I can’t afford them on my own.

If I could find a fragrance free medical professional who would make a house-call, they could fill out forms and ODSP might fund them, since I heard they do fund furnace filters, but I haven’t been able to find any healthcare professional willing to do so despite the Accessibility Standards… but that’s a blog post for another day…

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some links below, in case you want to explore HRV’s and filters

How to Get the Ventilation That You Need in Your House

Heat Recovery Ventilator
Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency

Types of filters available by one brand (there are others, this was just the 1st that came up in my search for carbon filters)

Custom made filters with activated carbon

Members of EU Parliament recommend recognizing and protecting people with MCS and EHS

Written declaration on the recognition of multiple chemical sensitivity and electrohypersensitivity in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD)

The European Parliament,

– having regard to its resolution of 4 September 2008 on the mid-term review of the European Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010, particularly recital J thereof,

– having regard to Decision 1350/2007/EC establishing a second programme of Community action in the field of health (2008-2013), and the White Paper ‘Together for Health’ (COM(2007)0630),

– having regard to its resolution of 2April 2009 on health concerns associated with electromagnetic fields,

– having regard to Rule 123 of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas health inequalities between different European countries should be eradicated;

B. whereas multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) patients are vulnerable to environmental pollution and electrohypersensitivity (EHS) patients to electromagnetic radiation, both involving serious risks in several areas over which they have no influence, such as the air they breathe and exposure to EM radiation;

1. Recommends that Member States which have not yet done so include MCS and EHS in their own ICDs and in their ILO-based Lists of Occupational Diseases; suggests that the WHO Assembly include MCS and EHS in its upcoming ICD-11;

2. Urges Member State governments to apply existing rules regarding EM radiation and exposure to harmful substances and to apply the precautionary principle strictly, with effective health and environmental measures, in order to immediately protect those affected, whose number is growing exponentially;

3. Suggests harmonising the rules on physical agents and harmful substances in the Member States, on the basis of the strictest existing criteria, and also placing controls on imported products;

4. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, to the Council, the Commission and the parliaments of the Member States.


The Peoples Declaration


“A group of people came together over a period of three months to discuss the laws needed to protect people and planet. This document is the outcome of those discussions. 36 people collaborated on the document for three months in early 2011 – The Peoples Declaration is the final outcome of their collaboration. The Declaration is a document which we believe all the people in the world can support and we ask you to join us in spreading this document to others to use as well.”

It’s a beautiful, powerful declaration, and starts off with:

“We the people say now is the time to act. It is the will of the people to end the pollution. It is the will of the people to create a world of peace and better standards of life for all in larger freedom.”

It  continues here:

Video: Creating Healthy Home Environments for Kids: Top 5 Tips

Great new video and resources from the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment (CPCHE). While it isn’t made for people with MCS/ES, following their advice will make the world a safer place for us all.  It should also help convince friends and family that the accommodations we need and have been asking for are good for everyone, especially children.

“Controlling house dust; switching to less-toxic, fragrance-free cleaners; taking extreme care with renovation projects; avoiding certain types and uses of plastics; and choosing fish that are low in mercury are the five priority actions recommended by the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment (CPCHE).”

“The 12-minute video – available in English and French and complemented by supporting print resources – is designed to be a “turn-key” solution for prenatal educators and other service providers looking for ways to address growing concerns about toxic substances and associated health risks for children.”

See for all their helpful resources, including a brochure that goes with this video.

Video: Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: How Chemical Exposures May Be Affecting Your Health

An older but still relevant documentary about MCS, featuring patients, parents, doctors and more…
“Interviews with leading physicians and people whose lives have been changed by chemical sensitivity.”
Produced and directed by Alison Johnson, with cinematography and editing by Richard Startzman. Visit for more information and to order this film or Alison Johnson’s book Casualties of Progress: Personal Histories from the Chemically Sensitive, which contains the the stories of the people appearing in this film.

What do tobacco smoke, fragrance chemicals, food, drugs, supplements, health food stores and incense have in common?

Tobacco smoke contains so many harmful chemicals causing health problems, that smoking has been banned from most public indoor environments. Work remains to be done in shared housing, where neighbours are forced to breathe in 2nd and 3rd hand smoke.

Since fragrances  also have  many harmful chemicals,  including too many  of the same chemicals found in tobacco smoke, they should also be banned from indoor environments. Well, (unless  certified organic), they should just be banned period  since they also pollute the outdoor air when expelled from dryer vents, and also pollute our  waterways.

Just like sitting in a smoky room for 10 minutes will make your hair and clothes smell like smoke, sitting in a fragranced room for 10 minutes will do the same. In fact, foods absorb smoke   and fragrance too, including those that can’t be washed (breads, salt, etc) and if you are attending a wine tasting event, you’re asked not to smoke or wear fragrances since they interfere with people’s ability to taste and smell.

Most fragrance chemicals weren’t designed to be eaten (although IFF would probably beg to differ ) and most of us certainly don’t want to be eating plastics, do we? Makes you wonder why phthalates  are found in drugs and supplements?    Especially since so much evidence is mounting regarding harm.

So what to do? One might assume that shopping for food, especially organic food, at health food stores (HFSs) would be safer. One would be thinking wrong if the HFS sell  fragranced products and  incense, which is linked to asthma, dermatitis,   and cancer,    and most HFSs do sell these products.

They don’t sell cigarettes, which are even triple wrapped despite not containing any VOC’s when unlit, yet the incense and other fragranced products are often unwrapped, or sold in flimsy plastic bags which do nothing to contain the VOCs, or keep them from migrating into other foods and products in the store.

I don’t know about you, but when I pay extra for organic foods, I don’t want them tasting like incense or other fragrance chemicals. I don’t want to be eating phthalates and BPA, so I avoid plastics, I don’t want to be breathing in the chemicals in tobacco smoke, yet buying food from most stores means these toxic chemicals are getting into the foods they sell.

Buying veggies and fruit from farmer’s markets,    CSA‘s    or organic delivery services usually eliminates this problem, but some warehouses have so-called air”fresheners”     or allow staff to use scented soaps   etc, which end up leaving residues on the food, and not all kinds of foods are available from these sources.

Food should not be kept in the same air space as these toxic chemicals. Volatile toxic chemicals should be sealed in impenetrable packaging as long as they are still legal. Stores that sell both food and items that contain volatile chemicals  should be required to separate the fragranced items from the foods, including using different ventilation systems.  It shouldn’t be so difficult for anyone, let alone those of us with a medical need,  to find safe, chemical and fragrance free foods.