Thursday, May 29, 2008

U.S. Kid-Safe Chemicals Act of 2008

A new federal bill was introduced last week into both the House (#6100) and the Senate (#3040) entitled the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act of 2008. This new legislation seeks to replace the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which was passed in 1976 and has never been amended. When passed, the TSCA declared 62,000 chemicals already on the market to be safe, with little or no data to support this policy. Since that time another 20,000 chemicals have been put into public use, also with little or no data to support their safety.

Testing has shown that newborn babies are "pre-polluted" with as many as 300 industrial chemicals in their bodies. Testing by Environmental Working Group (EWG) has identified 455 chemicals in people. These chemicals are increasingly being linked in children to childhood cancer, autism, ADHD, infertility and birth defects. Of course, those of us with MCS are very familiar with the toxic effects of these chemicals in our own lives.

The Kid-Safe Chemical Act seeks to be a fundamental overhaul of our nation's chemical regulatory law. Some of the things it would require are the following:

+industrial chemicals be safe for infants and children;
+new chemicals be safety tested BEFORE they are sold;
+chemical manufacturers test and prove that the 62,000 chemicals already on the market that have never been tested are safe in order for them to remain in commerce;
+EPA to review "priority" chemicals, those which are found in people, on an expedited schedule;
+regular biomonitoring to determine what chemicals are in people & in what amounts;
+regular updates of health & safety data & provide EPA with with clear authority to request additional information & tests;
+incentives for manufacturers to further reduce health hazards;
+EPA to promote safer alternatives & alternatives to animal testing;
+protection of state & local rights;
+that this information be publicly available.

There is more information about this proposal at . Since this legislation was just presented last week, it will take some time for it to get through committees and review and come to a vote in the Senate and House, but it is something I intend to follow closely. I'm sure that the chemical manufacturers have their lobbyists already lined up to fight this, but my sense is that the public is ready for this change. And putting it in the context of protecting children will gain even greater public interest.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Next Generation

I had a fun day yesterday playing with three of my grandsons. While they watched a video in the afternoon, I hemmed cotton flannel swaddling blankets for another grandson who will be born in July. Sometimes I get very discouraged in my efforts to educate people and create a safer and healthier world, free of the chemicals that make my life so unpleasant (I know, that's an understatement, but I'm trying to be nice).

What I have to keep reminding myself is that I am doing this for the next generation. My generation got us into this mess of a chemical stew, and it's unrealistic to think that it's going to be cleaned up overnight. But, when I look at my grandchildren or lovingly stitch a blanket that will comfort my baby's baby, I know that anything I do is worth the effort, because these children are worth the effort. I can't make everything all better, but I can do something, and that's good enough. Just as the chemicals to which I am exposed have a cumulative effect on my immune system, so the little things each of us do have a cumulative effect on the world.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


In the MCS America brochure entitled "Understanding Multiple Chemical Sensitivity", two primary treatments are recommeded for MCS:
1. Strict avoidance of contact with all chemicals, even those one is not sensitized to, as sensitization is more likely to occur with repeated exposure.
2. Proper nutrition to increase nutrients needed for normal detoxification when exposures do occur.

My personal concern and search for a healthy diet began many years ago as I struggled with multiple food allergies and was subsequently diagnosed with celiac disease. We (my husband mostly) have gardened organically for almost thirty years, and I buy almost exclusively organic fruits and vegetables. I don't eat very many prepared foods (i.e. chips, crackers, boxed mixes), and I avoid sugar (though I haven't figured a way to cut chocolate completely out of my diet; it's one of the main food groups, right?). I have no question (and medical science actually supports me on this) that diet plays a big role in overall health.

A more interesting question, however, is what role diet supplements should play in the treatment of MCS. People with celiac disease have major problems with absorption of nutrients from the foods they eat, so vitamin and mineral supplements are essential. But I wonder what effect they have on MCS.

An MCS friend told me a few months ago that she takes glutathione precursor (as recommended by her doctor), but I haven't been able to find any information about what this supplement is supposed to do. The last thing I want to do is recommend any medical treatment to anyone, but I am interested as to what has worked for other people in the way of diet and food supplements.

Monday, May 19, 2008

MCS America and other national organizations

If you do a Google search for MCS organizations, you come up with a very long list of groups which have organized to promote education or provide support for those with chemical sensitivity. (You also come up with some negative stuff, which is not worth the read.) Most of them have interesting and informative websites. My favorite of these websites is that of the MCS America group, .

MCS America clearly states their mission as follows:
To gain medical, legal, and social recognition for multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) as a disorder of organic biological origin induced by toxic environmental insults.
To provide support and referral services to the individuals with MCS, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and fibromyalgia (FM).
To ensure that environmental toxicants are identified, reduced, regulated, and enforced through lobbying for effective legislation.

I recently joined MCS (which is free--see the left hand sidebar of their home page) to receive their emails (which are several/day). They also have a monthly newsletter (via email) which I have been receiving for several months. The information in their newsletters and daily emails is all very interesting, and I will be referring to some of it in future blog posts.

Another group I have joined is the Chemical Injury Information Network, . Membership in CIIN is by donation, and they also publish a monthly newsletter (in both print and online versions). I find their newsletter particularly interesting because of the advertising it contains, as well as informative scientific articles.

Both of these organizations have links to yet other groups on their websites. I find that the MCS-America site is a good one to refer people to who know very little about MCS. The information is easy to read and well documented.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Coming Home

I am frustrated today--one of those MCS-foggy-brain days.

Coming home from our wonderful vacation has been difficult. There has been much to do to catch up, especially with our publishing business. I've had to go to the post office almost every day, and that is always a problem. It seems that no matter what time of day I go, there is always a long line and someone with lots of perfume. Such was the case today and I am still reeling from it. The only redeeming part of the venture was my subsequent stop at Real Foods, our local natural food market, which is almost always a safe place for me.

Generally, I try to limit my trips to the post office to one or two a week. This week has been unusual. At least we are having beautiful weather. I think I'll go dig in the flower beds to clear my head.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Chanterelle Country Inn

The Chanterelle Country Inn sits atop a grassy hillside on the eastern stretch of the famous Cabot Trail of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. You can view pictures of the surrounding area at , but they don't do justice to the breathtaking vistas. This part of Nova Scotia is particularly remote--like stepping into another time and another world.

The proprietor of the Chanterelle is Earlene Busch, an MCS sufferer who came to Cape Breton from Boulder, Colorado about eight years ago and decided to stay. Her stepfather is a physician back in Colorado, specializing in environmental medicine, and he helped her design the inn to accommodate the needs of people with extreme chemical sensitivities.

Earlene's interest in good health, along with the remoteness of the area, prompted her to include a restaurant at the inn also. But when she went looking for a chef, she found no one with her same food philosophy. Not to be dissuaded, Earline spent one winter at a fine culinary school so that she herself could be the chef at her new inn and restaurant. The results are beyond description. We let Earline feed us all three nights we were guests at her inn (as well as breakfasts, of course), and we have never eaten better tasting or healthier food in our lives. From locally raised lamb to organic egg omelets (made with local goat cheese) and creme brulee for dessert, she spoiled us quite thoroughly.

Earline's slogan for the Chanterelle is "the place to just be" on Cape Breton, and that aptly sums up the experience. If I were to go again (and I sincerely hope I will someday) I would go in September, when the leaves are changing, and stay for a week of just sitting on the screened porch and walking the trails through the surrounding woods.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bed of Roses by the Sea

This is an appropriate name for the chemical-free bed and breakfast we stayed in on Prince Edward Island. Though the roses weren't in bloom the last three days of April, we truly felt like we were cradled in luxury. In fact, Aravinda and Jasmin, the fine hosts who run this establishment, often refer to it as the "Cradle on the Waves."

The home sits on the edge of the North River in Charlottetown, PEI. One morning we watched the fishermen raking for oysters as we ate our custom made breakfast of homemade yogurt, fresh date muffins and home-grown peppermint tea. The hosts are originally from India, and it was a delight to share in other ethnic breakfast foods as well.

Beyond the beautiful room and delicious food, we enjoyed stimulating conversation with two people who instantly became friends. Their understanding of chemical issues is prompted by a sincere concern for all people and the stewardship of the earth which we have all been given. Their multi-cultural perspective was enlightening and has inspired me to think about chemical issues from a broader view. There are things which I can do to change the world, even though I am only one person. Jasmin and Aravinda are such good examples of two people who practice what they believe. They are not chemically sensitive themselves, but they have a genuine concern for those who are and for the world as a whole. Though it is their goal to return to India in the next year, they will continue to run the B & B in the meantime. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

English Garden Bed and Breakfast

The wanderer has returned to Montana after two wonderful weeks of traveling on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. and Canada. I have to sing the praises of the places we stayed, starting with the English Garden Bed and Breakfast in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia (just across the river from Halifax). We found this scent-free B & B through an internet search. It's a beautiful large home in a residential neighborhood, close to the airport and very accessible to the sites of Halifax and the coastline. They really take scent-free seriously, as they provide lodging to patients of the Nova Scotia Enviornmental Health Centre (NSEHC), which is located nearby in Fall River.

It was much to our surprise that we discovered at breakfast the first morning that the proprietors of English Garden (the Hunt and Wells families) are LDS. They assured us that I would be safe at church, because the director of the NSEHC (Dr. Fox) is also LDS, a member of their ward and suffers from MCS himself.

I cannot say enough in praise of English Garden B & B. They have beautifully decorated rooms (see them at ). Ours had a huge bathroom with a Jacuzzi soaking tub and a separate shower. A small refrigerator on the landing outside the room made it possible for us to have yogurt and cheese bedtime snacks. The ample breakfast was delicious and even included a gluten free muffin for me. The bed was so comfortable and the air so breathable that I woke up the first morning thinking that I was in my own home. And their nightly rates are the best you will find in the area. We paid less than $100/night for luxury worth much more.

This was just an amazing place to stay and a good start to our vacation. We felt truly spoiled.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Traveling in Nova Scotia, Part 1

I spent the last week in Nova Scotia with my husband as we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. It will take several posts to really talk about the experience as it relates to MCS, but suffice it to say that Nova Scotia is MCS friendly. We stayed in three different Bed and Breakfast inns, which were all scent-free, and everyone we spoke with understood, and was sympathetic, about MCS.

We flew into Halifax on Saturday afternoon, and the next day we attended church in a scent-free building. It was the first time I have attended the full three hours of church in many months. What a joy to be feel safe and really enjoy the worship services. As it turns out, there is a well-respected environmental illness clinic in Halifax, and the director is a member of the LDS Church. He suffers from MCS himself, and he has done a great deal to educate people in the area.

Needless to say, it was a wonderful trip. For ten days I felt like a normal person. It was hard to leave, and I'm not home yet. I took a little side trip to Virginia to see our youngest daughter. I am safe in her home too, so it's all good. The only problem I had today was with some people in the airport waiting for the plane to board. Fortunately, they were flying first class, and I was at the back of the plane.