When There’s No Accessible Potty


This washroom isn’t accessible:


neither is this one:


nor are the Ontario highway and other washrooms that have these installed:

Pesticides and fragrance! What could go wrong?


Many of us cannot go into a washroom that has an air effer or scented soap.

“In addition to the possibly life threatening immediate and delayed adverse health effects, “our clothes are contaminated and need to be aired out for days before we can even wash them or they contaminate more of our clothes.”
(from a  fb comment on the last post

So what to do?

If we were really gutsy, we could do something like wear skirts and use a jar outside to make the point that we can’t go in…


That thought got  Laura and I trying to illustrate it:


Just peeing in the hall, cuz the washroom’s not accessible for disabled people who have MCS/ES


Just peeing in the hall with my gas mask cuz y’all don’t give a ___ about occupational health and safety


Where else am I supposed to go?


Not going into that washroom!

It’s time to get rid of the accessibility barriers!

Washrooms should be clean and  fragrance-free!

“inconvenience, morale, and preferences are not valid considerations in assessing whether an accommodation would cause undue hardship”

~ Ontario Human Rights Commission


They were only going to convert one washroom at that mall, but it was a start. We don’t have an update on how it went, because the person who requested this moved to another province before the changes were made.

We do know there are places who have realized the benefits of turning
all of their facilities into fragrance-free facilities!

Like the Wisconsin Division of Transportation:

Wisconsin DOT Implements Fragrance-Free Rest Stops

… “In simplest terms, the public spoke and we were happy to listen,” said Hunt. “There is nothing more important than providing a safe experience for the thousands of daily visitors at WisDOT rest areas.”

Hunt said that the public feedback on scented products was eye-opening as to the magnitude of the problem for some in the traveling public.

“We heard about adverse reactions ranging from uncomfortable to physically sick,” he said. “We took this feedback seriously because our rest areas serve a core safety mission – they are meant to accommodate anyone who needs a break from the road.”

Being a cost-neutral move for the department (where existing inventory was used or returned), the decision to go fragrance-free has been well received by the public.”  …

As it should be!


Some science:

Fragranced consumer products:
exposures and effects from emissions

“Fragranced product emissions can affect not only indoor air quality but also human health, workplace productivity, and societal wellbeing. Results from this study reveal that over one third of Americans suffer adverse health effects, such as respiratory difficulties and migraine headaches, from exposure to fragranced products. Of those individuals, half reported that the effects can be disabling.

Many exposure situations are involuntary, such as air fresheners and deodorizers used in public toilets and elsewhere (20.4 % of the population reported health problems from exposure), …, being in a room after it was cleaned with scented products (19.7 % reported health problems), …, along with workplaces, health care facilities, hotels and airplanes with fragranced air environments.

A strong majority (at least twice as many individuals in support than not, in all cases surveyed) prefer that indoor environments and people would not be fragranced.

Fragranced products also restrict access in society.

Of the general population, 17.5 % were unable to use toilets in public places because of air fresheners or deodorizers, 14.1 % were unable to wash their hands with soap in public places because of fragranced soap, and 22.7 % were unable to go someplace because of the presence of a fragranced product.

Importantly, adverse effects resulting from exposure to fragranced products, such as in workplaces and public places, raise concerns about liability. For instance, individuals can suffer acute health effects, such as an asthma attack, if they enter a restroom that uses air fresheners.

If they are unable to access a restroom due to the presence of an air freshener, then that poses a potential violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”


Air fresheners and indoor air quality:
why air fresheners impair rather than improve air quality


1.4. How do air freshener emissions affect the indoor environment?

Air fresheners can contribute to indoor hazardous air pollutants, both through direct emissions and secondary reaction products (e.g., [27], [25], [4], [20], [22], [28], [46], [32]. Within buildings and other indoor environments, the use of air fresheners has a strong association with high indoor levels of terpenes, benzene, toluene, ethyl-benzene, m,p-xylene, and total volatile organic compounds (e.g., [27], [23], [30], [33], [45], [44].

These kinds of signs should be everywhere!


Help for How to Be Fragrance-Free

Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability

Canadian Human Rights Commission Policy on environmental sensitivities

CDC Indoor Environmental Policy


Be fragrance-free!
It’s good for you! It’s good for me!


7 responses to “When There’s No Accessible Potty

  1. Thank you for your efforts!!! And the cartoons are adorable!!! :)

  2. I would be very interested if you would be willing to share the email you sent to West Edmonton Mall regarding the scent free washroom. There are a number of places I would like to send something like that to in Toronto.

    • Hi Kennedy, If I remember, it was a long letter, with personal thoughts and maybe some research info in it.

      I’ve wanted to share sample and example letters but just haven’t been up to it.

      I’m pretty sure there are some template letters on how to ask for accommodation in Ontario – we have the AODA and the OHRC here, so it should be easier. Please read the Policy on Ableism – it is very useful to know what’s in there.

      I’ll see if I can find something, and share back here when I do.

    • From the Human Rights Legal Support Centre:

      How do I get the accommodation I need?

      There are a number of steps you should take in order to make sure that your need for accommodation is dealt with properly. You should:
      Ask for the accommodation
      Explain why you need it (try to do this in writing)
      Provide information that is directly relevant to your needs, restrictions or limitations (this can include medical information, but only the information that is directly related to your request for accommodation)
      Participate in discussions about possible accommodation solutions
      Co-operate with any experts whose assistance is required
      Try different forms of accommodation even if it is not the perfect accommodation

      What should the employer, landlord or service provider do after I make my request for accommodation?

      Once you make your request for accommodation, the employer, service provider or landlord should:

      Accept the accommodation request in good faith, unless there are legitimate reasons for acting otherwise
      Understand someone might not use the word “accommodation” when they are looking to be served in a way that meets their needs
      Obtain expert opinion or advice where needed
      Take an active role in exploring a range of options
      Keep a record of the accommodation request and action taken
      Maintain confidentiality
      Limit their requests for information (e.g. medical reports) to those directly related to your needs, limitations or restrictions
      Grant accommodation requests in a timely manner
      Pay for the cost of the required medical information or documentation
      If the accommodation would cause “undue hardship” (see definition below) such as extreme financial costs, explain this clearly and be prepared to demonstrate why they cannot provide the accommodation


    • This is an informative website too (regarding the AODA- Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act)


  3. Pingback: How to Basics: Accessible Washrooms for People With MCS/ES | Seriously "Sensitive" to Pollution

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.