Canary Separates and Onesies aka Hazmat Gear

A few of us were talking about the steps some of us canaries have to take to be able to go places: masks, respirators, scarves to cover hair, lab coats, long skirts, outdoor only clothes that are removed before entering our safe homes, and clothes  that are  never worn inside due to picking up so much 2nd and 3rd hand fragrance contamination.

And  the removal and bagging for later washing of everything we did wear or have with us, and the showers we have to take as soon as we get home.

Then there’s the lunch kits and other accessories we need to pack, but that’s another blog post or three.

I’ve posted before about using tyvek suits, both to wear in order to protect us from exposures when we go out, or to have others wear to protect us from exposures to their products off-gassing when we need them to enter our space.

This time though, someone mentioned that they wanted to go to an event that lasted long enough that they would need to use the washroom while out, so a one piece tyvek suit wasn’t going to cut it.

Even with advance accommodation requests to have all fragranced soaps and fragrance emitting devices removed and replaced with fragrance-free products, most washrooms will still be fragrance contaminated.

Not only that, but using a onesie in a public washroom, when already struggling from  exposures, is really darn difficult.

But what about separates? Surely there must be separates available?

And there are!

With a little creativity, these could almost be stylish (ok, a lot of creativity, are there any designers out there who want to make some stylin and affordable protective over-wear for us that can be re-used at least a few times?)


There are even some pieces that come in canary yellow (if that material is tolerated) which would help us make quite the statement!

One issue that there doesn’t seem to be a solution for at this time, is that  these (and other protective hazmat options) are made by chemical companies that also make some of the chemicals that are responsible for disabling us, and more than a few of us will not be able to tolerate wearing  these, or they will not be enough to protect us from exposures when we are out or when others are in our homes.

However, for some people, in the absence of policies that would allow us to safely access places while dressed (and breathing) more like other human beings, then these are options that could make going out somewhat easier to manage and also reduce  recovery time and labour back at home.

While these are another useful tool, or helpful (if not necessary) assistive devices, what we really need are enforced policies that prevent the use of harmful pollutants in indoor (and outdoor) environments so that we can access the people, places, and services that we all need.

Maybe groups of allies and some canaries who are still able can make use of these outfits to gather with and work with policy makers so that some day soon we will all have the right to exist in a healthy environment instead of others having the right to pollute it?

20 responses to “Canary Separates and Onesies aka Hazmat Gear

  1. After fighting for more than half a decade to achieve a fragrance free workplace where I can earn a decent living just like everyone else, I feel disturbed that I must protect myself from the assaultive actions of others. I’m a federal public servant and under the Canada Labour Code Part II if someone has been warned that a co-worker needs a fragrance free workplace because the presence of fragrances unnecessary for performance of work will harm them, and goes ahead and uses such products in the workplace, this is considered under law to be a violent act – an assault. Legislation is in place to protect us from these kinds of uncaring acts. We just have to exercise our rights. When we do, we contribute to the body of jurisprudence that makes it easier and easier to make our lives safe.
    That said, why am I expected to make a show of myself with tyvak suits, masks, etc just to live my life? I think we should turn it back on the perpetrators. Make them wear hazmat suits to contain the chemical pollution they carry around with them! It’s not like the goo they smear on and spray themselves with occurs naturally nor is it necessary for life, like say, fresh air to breathe.

    • I’ve always thought that continued use of products and substances constitutes harassment and assault.

      I’m looking at that Code now (I wasn’t aware of this, thanks for mentioning it)

      (y) ensure that the activities of every person granted access to the work place do not endanger the health and safety of employees;

      (z.13) when necessary, develop, implement and monitor a program for the provision of personal protective equipment, clothing, devices or materials, in consultation, except in emergencies, with the policy committee or, if there is no policy committee, with the work place committee or the health and safety representative;

      Is it this section?

      Duties of Employees
      Marginal note:Health and safety matters

      126 (1) While at work, every employee shall

      (a) use any safety materials, equipment, devices and clothing that are intended for the employee’s protection and furnished to the employee by the employer or that are prescribed;

      (b) follow prescribed procedures with respect to the health and safety of employees;

      (c) take all reasonable and necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of the employee, the other employees and any person likely to be affected by the employee’s acts or omissions;

      (d) comply with all instructions from the employer concerning the health and safety of employees;

      (e) cooperate with any person carrying out a duty imposed under this Part;

      (f) cooperate with the policy and work place committees or the health and safety representative;

      (g) report to the employer any thing or circumstance in a work place that is likely to be hazardous to the health or safety of the employee, or that of the other employees or other persons granted access to the work place by the employer;

      (h) report in the prescribed manner every accident or other occurrence arising in the course of or in connection with the employee’s work that has caused injury to the employee or to any other person;

      (i) comply with every oral or written direction of the Minister or an appeals officer concerning the health and safety of employees; and

      (j) report to the employer any situation that the employee believes to be a contravention of this Part by the employer, another employee or any other person.

      If you can let me know exactly which section it is (there’s too much for my brain to process there now), then I can put up a blog post to make more people aware of it too!

      I do have a post on enforcing policies by making the perps wear the tyvek suits and charging them for the cost, but it’s much better to send them home without pay (or losing their appointment if it’s that kind of situation).

      No-one lets smokers smoke where they have fragrance-free policies. Enforcement is totally required. And, enforcement means everyone else also gets to breathe safer air.

      • Yes, yes! All that is what makes an employer and co-workers responsible to ensure the safety of anyone in the workplace. The three principals are: 1. Eliminate the hazard – this is the 1st objective.
        2. If you can’t eliminate the hazard then the next objective is to isolate the hazard (put the offenders in the hazmat suit :))
        3. And finally, if all else fails, use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

        And remember that there are very few jobs where there is a bona fide occupational requirement to have fragranced substances in the workplace. No needs scents to do their jobs – but we all need to be able to breathe.

        The whole goal from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms down to the Canadian Human Rights Act is inclusiveness NOT exclusion for our own safety.

        The part about violence in the workplace is in the Canada Labour Code Occupational Health and Safety Regulations Part XX Violence Prevention in the Workplace Interpretation;
        20.2 In this Part, “workplace violence” constitutes any action, conduct, threat, or gesture of a person towards an employee in their workplace that can reasonably be expected to cause harm, injury, or illness to that employee.

        So, if an employer is aware that fragrances cause an employee harm and has warned the workplace as such (posting signs, briefings, etc) then at that point it becomes reasonable that everyone would know continued use will “reasonably be expected to cause harm, injury, or illness.” If they continue to use fragranced substances then under the definition above it’s considered by the ESDC Labour Program (they administer the Labour Code) to constitute violence in the workplace – an assault.

        I haven’t looked but I’ll bet each province has a Labour Code that says pretty much the same thing to cover most workers.

  2. Great info as usual–thank you! For events where disposable coveralls would create security concerns or alienate others at the event, here’s an alternative to wearing tyvek type coveralls etc that works for us: oversized nylon [or other tolerable, detox-washed, synthetic] “outerwear” type pants & zippered top that we either (1) wear by themselves with only underwear underneath, or (2) wear them as a top layer over the top of our organic cotton clothes. This is NOT perfect, but works very well in many situations for us. The nylon outerwear adsorbs most if not all of the fragrance & building chemical emissions. Then when we get home, in garage: (1) strip outerwear off & stuff into galvanized, lidded garbage can until can be detox washed; (2) strip off the underwear/ or underlying organic clothes that will have some but less chemical odor than the outerwear layer, & bad in separate heavy plastic bag for later detox wash; (3) vigorous, multiple shampoo of hair with our concoction of baking soda & Dr Bronner’s organic shampoo–hair adsorbs lots of the chemicals from the toxic real world & is difficult to get out of hair; (4) double body wash with Carina UNscented, organic, chem-free body wash/shampoo. Our experience: tyvec type items help a lot but most are “breathe” to some extent & that lets chemical odors penetrate into your skin or clothing worn underneath the tyvek. The exception is the very expensive “HAZMAT” ones made for total exclusion of toxic chemical “splashes”. the problem with those besides expense, is that they make one sweat like mad. They also can make security personnel & other people “scared”/worried that it may be a terrorist type event about to happen–add a filter mask to your face, & the safety/terrorism concern is even greater. Not to speak of being socially off-putting except for your closest, most understanding friends.

    • Some good points Terry, thanks for sharing them.

      Most of us do have to wear a full set of safe clothing under the outerwear because synthetics are not tolerated against our skin.

      Do you find nylon to be more airproof than tyvek? Are you using the waterproofed kind with some sort of teflon finish or did you find something without a finish that is also protective?

      I’ve mentioned before that tyvek doesn’t offer 100% containment, I guess I forgot to here, although this post was also aimed more at the people who can still handle some exposures, than at those of us who can’t manage that at all. There’s so much context that it’s hard to remember it all each and every time something comes up!

      I have to admit that I’m not concerned about how what we have to do to protect ourselves seems socially off-putting or strange to people, when they are usually the reason we have to dress differently to protect ourselves, because they prefer to keep using toxic products instead of changing to non-toxic ones. I frankly think those who refuse to listen to science and or lack compassion are the ones who have become rather off-putting.

      I guess context could be a factor too – are we wearing these protective devices/suits to places where we’ve asked to be accommodated, like medical offices where they still use air “fresheners”, or to buy food, pay bills, to have some recreational time, etc…

      If fragrance-free and safe product and material policies were in effect, (much like no smoking policies) we wouldn’t need to resort to doing things like this to be able to leave home.

      Yesterday the big news (at least in the UK – I don’t know if the North American media picked it up today or not – they did not report on how 34.7% of the US population experiences adverse effects from fragranced products) was how fragrances, air “fresheners”, personal care, laundry, cleaning products, pesticides,etc are polluting outdoor air as much or more than vehicular traffic… and that most of this pollution is migrating from indoors to outdoors… Think about that for a minute…

      Regarding the fear factor, that’s generated by a part of the same paradigm that thinks it’s ok to pollute people for profit, and something else we have to resist feeding. We are just trying to go about doing our business, using disability related assistive devices – just as others use wheel chairs or other devices that allow them to be more active in life…

      Some people have written messages onto the tyvek or wear buttons. Adding some personal flourishes could make things less threatening. Some call in advance to prepare those who have some control over the space in case an ally is needed.

      We are not the problem, the system that allows polluting people for profit is the problem.

  3. I strongly agree with all your points. I live in VA, USA. With Trump/Repub Congress daily subverting & obliterating laws & policies designed to protect citizen rights, air/water, workers, consumers, etc., “fragrance-free” policies fall off the chart of realistic endeavors–Hell, the Repub House just passed restrictions on the ADA. Here, due to Islamic terrorism, homegrown terrorism, gun mass murders, school mass shootings etc [American madness–can we PLEASE emigrate to Canada, Norway, Switzerland, etc?], general public & gov or private security personnel get hyper-reactive if a stranger showed up in hazmat gear/mask. I don’t blame them–I would be very concerned myself–it’s concerning enough with widespread “open carry” gun laws with rifle/pistol packing strangers on streets, in restaurants, etc. I practice avoidance as a priority. If it’s a priority for me to venture away from my chem-safe home: despite my severe toxification & chemical intolerance [fragrance exposure causes me to have seizures], I choose NOT to wear a hazmat suit but constrain myself to wearing a 3M cartridge mask, use my supplemental O2, & the nylon/synthetic outer wear. [For me, supplemental O2 helps tremendously in reducing the severity & duration of adverse neurological & respiratory effects of exposure to pervasive toxic chemical mix in our USA toxic “real world”. Get your Dr to RX portable O2 –e.g., Helios Marathon– with diagnoses like, “reactive airways” & neurological impairments including chronic headaches & ataxia]. RE nylon outer wear: (1) I can’t use water-repellant treated synthetics unless they’re OLD ones from my pre-toxification days or have been sun-detoxed for weeks. But having the water repellancy DEFinitely resists chem penetration; (2) for newer outerwear without water repellant treatment, we found thick nylon to be relatively resistant to chem-penetration compared to other synthetics…IF the nylon is thick, tight woven fabric, & by comparison to detoxing our organic clothes after exposure, it is relatively easier to detox wash than the organic cotton. We’ve had the best luck buying the nylon jackets & pants from backpack/outdoor stores like Patagonia when they have a sale [like NOW on REI & Patagonia]. BUT we only mail-order them rather than direct store purchase because we’ve found that buying direct from their warehouse/distribution center typically delivers clothing LESS FRAGRANCE contaminated than if its bought off the shelf of a store. Much GRATITUDE for the terrific education/advocacy by “Seriously….” You are superb!

  4. It really looks to me like the Calvin Klein collection is based on protective shielded clothing for people with EHS, not MCS like the Yahoo article claimed.

    Belgian-born Raf Simons said of this collection in ELLE magazine:

    “[It] is an evolution of my idea of CALVIN KLEIN – of a view onto American society – but now wider, universal. It’s an allegory for a meeting of old worlds and new worlds, relating to the discovery of America, the 1960s Space Race, and the twenty-first century information age.

    Reflecting the notion of democracy, there is no cultural hierarchy: the mixes emancipate clothing and references from their meanings, from their own narratives, and collage them to discover something different – a different dream. More than anything else, this collection is about freedom. A word that defines America, and CALVIN KLEIN.”

    • The collection looks to be mostly protective shielded clothing for people with EHS, it’s not MCS clothing.

      I’ve heard that wireless radiation and EMF levels max out the meters in many places in NYC, so there will be a lot more people developing EHS there in the near future.

      The designer now lives there too.

      I’m willing to bet money that he closely knows people who have EHS.

  5. RIGHT ON! Linda & Jo-An !!! My comments were not meant to discourage Jo-An’s courageous, heroic perspective. it’s the toxic-producers, retailers, etc who rightly should face criminal charges for violating our rights & toxifying our lives.

  6. I am not recommending these, just showing some of
    what’s out there for EMF/RF protection

  7. From Terry’s post above
    ” Get your Dr to RX portable O2 –e.g., Helios Marathon– with diagnoses like, “reactive airways” & neurological impairments including chronic headaches & ataxia]. ”
    I have a movement disorder and I know it kicks up when I have been exposed to chemicals. Recovery is less now that I have sorted out the cause is MCS tho nobody I have talked to or read about has exactly the same thing. At the worst of times I jerk uncontrollably and need to stay in bed the jerking would be constant night and day. Now that I know to avoid chemicals take some supplements before leaving home and on returning shower wear a mask ect ect ect… things are better. However I am still suffering when exposed my house is not scent free.. I don’t own it and am not boss….
    My question I would like other Canadians or folks from Ontario to answer is have you managed to get oxygen covered by ohip in ontario? I have asked my doctor and she said there is only one disorder that is not breathing where it is covered… true or not true…
    I feel recovery would be faster and I would feel safer going out if I had it on hand but I can’t get it so far.
    Has anyone else had any luck with oxygen?

    • As far as I know, the way oxygen benefits us is not covered. I’m pretty sure that at various times submissions have been made to the powers that be to get it covered, because it can do so much good for us, but we need a paradigm shift.

      If the recommendations from the Environmental Health Task Force ever get adopted (everyone needs to be on their MPP to support this) then things could change and we’d have access to things that help.

  8. The recommendations from the task force have been made? I thought they were not done for a few more years….. where are the recommendations… I read an update this year from them and must have missed recommendations with my foggy head… does this mean they have submitted something to ohip on how to treat mcs and we now have a code as I thought not having a code or recommendations was the problem…
    Could you please spell this process out to me… the Task force made recommendations to ? and what is the process for moving forward…
    sorry I know this is not your job… I did have a politician at the door who never heard of mcs who wanted to help but did not know how and neither did I … there may be others out here like me that need it spelled out for them…

    sorry I know this is not your job but if you could sort this I would appreciate it… my email has crashed so I don’t get notifications I will bookmark this page and come back to it.

    Thanks for the site Sandy

  9. Thanks Linda

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