MCS/ES 2017 Continued: The Canaries Are Still Waiting!

The canaries are still waiting!

“We issued a report (in 1985) that identified existing, publicly funded means of diagnosis, and accepted various methods of patient management, including avoidance of offending agents.

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.”

Excerpted from this letter by Judge George M. Thomson, B.A., LL.B., LL.M., who chaired the extensive report by the Ad Hoc Committee on Environmental Hypersensitivity Disorders for the Province of Ontario in 1985:

More than fifteen years ago,  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.

To this end, we recommended that financial and social support services be awarded on the basis of the extent of a patient’s disability, rather than on the basis of a particular diagnosis.

This would reduce the risk of depriving patients of support simply because medical professionals might be unable to differentiate between the myriad possible causes.

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.

In the years immediately following the report, several positive steps were taken in response to the recommendations. Public support systems became more accepting of these individuals’ needs. At the federal level, departments and agencies began addressing unhelpful attitudes about this disability, not only within the departments and agencies themselves, but also within doctors’ offices, medical associations and the broader community.

Health Canada organized conferences, distributed documents and publicly supported recommendations to protect patients from unnecessary harm. The Department of Justice and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation funded self-help groups to support citizens with environmental sensitivities.

Regrettably, over the past few years, that initial momentum has been largely lost, and many of the earlier recommendations seem to have been forgotten. An ongoing, legitimate, but separate debate about medical approaches is again obscuring protection issues and returning us to the situation that prevailed when the report was written.

~ George M. Thomson, B.A., LL.B., LL.M. (2001)

“Delegitimizing those with ES-MCS, who may be warning us all of the need for toxics reduction, also tends to impede development of practical, precautionary, potentially preventive and cost-saving public health strategies.”

~ Women’s College Hospital Environmental Health Clinic Report, 2011.

Thirty-one years after the original report was released, in 2016,  the Province of Ontario developed a Task Force on Environmental Health to

  • inform possible guidelines and policies to support patients with conditions triggered by environmental factors;
  • increase public and health care providers’ knowledge of health conditions triggered by environmental factors;
  • identify gaps in evidence, knowledge transfer and care for those affected by these conditions; and
  • identify patient-focused actions to improve health outcomes of affected patients.

We are waiting for the Preliminary Report which was said to be coming this May.

We have (in theory) Human Rights protections for people with environmental sensitivities, except people have to literally fight (sometimes for years, with failing health) one person, one location at a time for any accommodations, and any resulting policies are seldom, if ever,  enforced. Even health care is not safe and accessible!

This is unacceptable. Not only is it a form of genocide against canaries, exposure to pollutants has adverse impacts on everyone, and harmful exposures have increased to such a  degree that they are impossible to avoid now! Chronic health problems and cognitive decline have increased to the point everyone is at risk!

Results: On average, cognitive scores were 61% higher on the Green building day and 101% higher on the two Green+ building days than on the Conventional building day (p < 0.0001). VOCs and CO2 were independently associated with cognitive scores.

Conclusions: Cognitive function scores were significantly better under Green+ building conditions than in the Conventional building conditions for all nine functional domains. These findings have wide-ranging implications because this study was designed to reflect conditions that are commonly encountered every day in many indoor environments.

~ “Associations of Cognitive Function Scores with Carbon Dioxide, Ventilation, and Volatile Organic Compound Exposures in Office Workers: A Controlled Exposure Study of Green and Conventional Office Environments”


Canadian Human Rights Policy on Environmental Sensitivities


Ontario Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability


Environmental Sensitivities and Housing

It seems to me that unless a lot more canaries and our allies become vocal, with whatever strength and courage we have left, the situation may continue to deteriorate, so now is the time to chirp as if lives depend on it, because we do!

“Environmental sensitivities are the tip of a big iceberg”…
~ Dr. John Molot

Human canaries need practical supports now to survive, if not thrive, and everyone needs to start detoxing their lives, homes, and businesses to prevent more chronic illness and disabilities for  themselves and for future generations!

If you buy a product and it stinks and gives you a headache or any other adverse symptoms, call the manufacturer to complain, and return it, letting them know why. Tell them you want products that don’t make people sick (or harm the environment).

If you encounter an air “freshener” spewing toxic chemicals into an enclosed space, trash it if you can, cover it with a plastic bag and tape if it can’t be trashed, and complain to the facility management team that they are endangering people’s health.

Be fragrance-free yourself! Choose products that don’t have ‘fragrance’, ‘parfum’, ‘aroma’, or ‘essential oils’ listed as ingredients! Remember, products are not living beings, they are just a concoction of chemicals in a disposable package!

Help the canaries you know by helping with things they cannot do because they don’t have access to places and resources. There is no agency helping the canaries who are disabled. People are dying without help. Be that person who steps up and does something!

The canaries are still waiting!

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