Category Archives: Indoor Air Quality

Diffusing Health Harm on Unsuspecting Shoppers and Outrageously False Product Claims

Here’s yet another example of a systemic issue regarding health harming accessibility barriers, happening in a province (and country) where we have Human Rights laws that recognize people with environmental ‘sensitivities’ as having a disability, and where everyone is encouraged to remove accessibility barriers instead of creating new ones.

Unsuspecting Oshawa Costco Canada shoppers are being subjected to this fragrance assault and/or accessibility barrier between November 26, 2019 and December 8, 2019.

Info which was found buried on Costco Canada’s website in the Special Events page, there may be other locations as well.
How many members see these announcements?

In December, it appears that those who shop at  Costco’s Ste Foy location will also be sprayed, without alternative accommodations made for member shoppers whose lives are harmed by this kind of thing (unless there’s a public outcry before it happens).

Not only is the store air thoroughly polluted by this kind of diffusion (as experienced by someone who reported it to their mother who has environmental sensitivities and is severely allergic to fragranced products) for the 2 week duration of this “special event”, but everything in their store(s), *including food*, will also have absorbed substantial residues of undisclosed (and not food-safe) fragrance substances, that may be difficult if not impossible to remove.

This ‘special event’ can cause significant harm to people with asthma, autism, chemical and environmental sensitivities, fragrance allergies, migraines, and mast cell activation syndrome (to name a few). Even 2nd and 3rd hand residues of this type can cause serious (and life-threatening) health problems and long lasting disabling effects, so a suggestion of having someone else do the shopping is not a reasonable or feasible accommodation.

See below for the product details and the store manager’s and assistant manager’s responses when called.

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Fume Enclosure Boxes for Reading, Computers, and Appliances

Since papers, inks, and computers can release fumes that are too toxic for some of us to breathe, adversely affecting our ability to remain functional, and since there’s no getting away from papers and technology in modern society, an assistive device was invented some decades ago that could be useful to bring back as a more popular accessory: the reading box!

I recently ran across an ad on Craigslist for one that was for sale in the US, and then someone found an old catalogue (2002 PDF) with a few other pics, so I thought I’d share the info and images here in case they can help anyone else.

A reading box is basically a box made of wood, glass, or metal, with an opening in the front, and glass on top to read through. A vented box will also have a dryer hose out the back, and a fan of some sort to push the air through the hose and out of a window. A barrier with a vent sized exhaust hole would also be needed to cover the window opening being used.

reading box for computer 1This computer box is from the catalogue.

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When Programmers Send Old Computers Into ICU and Palliative Care

My computer and old Operating System have seen better days. Things are crashing almost hourly now. I am so grateful that the original donor was twice able to get this computer back up again (with telephone advice) after a partial freeze and fully appearing meld-down, but it is still malfunctioning online, so I have to shut it down frequently, as the sites I use seem to have updated using technology that is no longer inclusive of XP and my  minimal RAM (adding more would be cost-prohibitive).

I  therefore find myself in critical need of a new computer, even with all the toxicity and adverse health risks involved, and without the time to mitigate them (like running things somewhere else that is also fragrance free, for however long it takes to off-gas everything).

Eeks! image from pixabay 2

Here are some details:

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Scent-Free Buildings Guide from CCIAQB

From The Canadian Committee on Indoor Air Quality (CCIAQB) 

“This Module provides building owners and managers with information about the sources and effects of scents and fragrances. It also suggests ways to move toward scent-free buildings. The information covers scents and fragrances brought into a workplace by people wearing personal products such as perfume as well as those scents and fragrances that originate from custodial products such as washroom hand soap.”

scent-free buildings guide banner

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Webinar to Increase Smoke-Free Policies in Federally Assisted Housing (US)

Smoke and chemicals (such as fragrances, air “fresheners”, laundry products, pesticides, and other VOCs) do not respect property lines as they travel throughout space, often making others quite sick, even disabling them in their own homes. This is especially a problem in multi-unit housing, and where housing units are built close together.

This is also a very serious accessibility issue for people with MCS/ES, as there are few affordable housing options available, and most of these put people at risk of further  harm due to indoor air pollution issues, despite HUD and other federal agencies in the US and Canada recognizing MCS/ES as a disability that needs to be accommodated.

The following webinar is about addressing smoke, but the issues are applicable to other forms of indoor air pollutants as well. It should also be available as a podcast later.

For those of you who are interested and able,  the webinar is being offered on Wed, Aug 5, 2015 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM EDT by the Asthma Community Network

Breathing Easy at Home: Partnering to Increase Smoke-Free Policies in Federally Assisted Housing

live smoke free webinarMore info: Continue reading

The Effort and “Inconvenience” of Single-Handedly Trying to Remove Systemic Barriers to Access

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When she needed accommodation, you won’t believe the rigmarole that ensued.

(unless you have MCS/ES)

equal opportunity 1

“They should not have to make significantly more effort to access or obtain service. They should also not have to accept lesser quality or more inconvenience.”

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Someone with MCS (who wishes to remain anonymous) was asked about how her efforts to receive appropriate, safe, accommodation were going, so she could see a health care provider. She is one of a growing number of people who become disabled from exposures to toxic chemicals found in many everyday products and materials, especially in fragrances.

This is pretty much how the story goes:

She contacted a health care provider by phone and talked to a receptionist.

She asked her if they had a scent-free policy and was told they didn’t.

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Optional “Inconvenience”

Guest post and images by Laura J Mac

What always strikes me during conversations about how to persuade service providers to accommodate our disability is how much extra work we have to do just to participate in simple survival stuff. I mean, “simply” tracking down professionals who are willing to accommodate is a chore and a half. The luxury of “having a good relationship” with a service provider falls way down on the list because it’s usually one or the other.

Laura J Mac 1

Nobody would think twice about someone who uses a mobility device asking if there are ramps and elevators but it seems that our need for fragrance-free and reduced chemical exposure is perceived as a “preference” rather than a medical necessity. That perception leads to the idea that accommodation of our disability is an “option” (and generally it’s an “option” that service providers aren’t willing to make available.) It’s not that we don’t “like” fragrance, these chemical exposures cause neurological and physiological problems that interfere with our ability to function on a daily basis.

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