Environmentally Safe Places Indoor & Outdoor
TOWARD ENVIRONMENTALLY SAFE PLACES ::
LIVE ENVIRONMENTALLY SAFE
Synthetic chemicals (pesticides, fragrances, synthetic fabrics, cleaning products, detergents, etc.) are a part of our lives -- often on the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the air we breath, the materials from which our homes and schools are built.
Watch television and notice how many ads are for products to make our homes smell better by spraying chemicals into the air. You can spray them by hand, plug them into the wall to heat them or to automatically spray them. And we use them without knowing what chemicals we are spraying or how they might effect us, our children or our visitors. These products are used in doctors and dentists offices, in schools and on a larger scale, public bathrooms. Everyday. And this is just one type of product that pours chemicals into the air -- for what is essentially -- unnecessary. Clean spaces -- either in homes or public spaces -- rarely contain odors that aren't temporary . . . or that can't be resolved through thoughtful ventilation or simply time to dissipate.
Some persistent odors, while unpleasant, are "good" because they act as signals or warnings that something "unseen" may be happening in or to our homes. Many people living in rural areas can tell when a squirrel or field mouse has gotten trapped and died in one of the crawlspaces -- an unpleasant odor, for sure, but one that goes away and can be ignored -- unless it is persistent or frequent. Too many such critters can pose a danger to house wiring and create other hazards. Damp, musty odors can herald mold growth or the potential for mold.
One of the most publicized chemicals that is known to cause many of the symptoms of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is formaldehyde. Particleboard, glues, plastics and toxic finishes can outgas toxic substances including formaldehyde. It's also in some cosmetics, baby shampoo and baby lotion as well as some clothing and bedding (polyester combination permanent press, or crease resistant. Formaldehyde is expressed as "Quaternium-15" on labels.
Toward Environmentally Safe Places
Healthy Buildings, Healthy People: A Vision for the 21st Century: A vision for indoor environmental quality in the 21st Century. The importance of the indoor environment to human health has been highlighted in numerous environmental risk reports. This site offers extensive information.
Guidelines for Non-Toxic Living: "Switching to non-toxic living can be a very pleasant experience" - general recommendations about cleaning and laundry products, personal-care products. Air freshners or Air poisoners? Detox Baths for Purification
Database of Environmental Information for Products and Services: The EPP Database includes standards and guidelines for environmentally-preferable products and services, written by national government agencies and independent third-party organizations from around the world. There are currently 523 standards in the EPP Database, covering more than 650 product and service categories.
So, What's Wrong with Trying to Smell Nice?: Nothing in itself. But the chemicals that are used to propagate fragrance can be quite toxic to some people. This isn't a matter of taste or unpleasantness; people who suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) become physically sick, often to the point of being incapacitated, when exposed to artificial fragrances. A minimal amount of exposure is enough to hurt. For instance, a trace of scented laundry detergent in a room can force an MCS sufferer in the room to flee - or get very sick.
How to Be Fragrance Free: What is fragrance-free?, Making your clothing fragrance-free, Making your body fragrance-free, Making a space fragrance-free, What types of things make chemically sensitive people sick? . . . and more.
Smelling Good But Feeling Bad? Synthetic Perfumes, Colognes and Scents Are Turning Up Noses:
Have you ever wondered which personal fragrance or perfume will make you the most attractive? In California, the Sierra Club's San Francisco and Loma Prieta chapters resolved to "take action to discourage the use of fragrance products in all public places," and advocate that this position become a regional and national policy. Why does the Sierra Club care about how you scent your body or which fabric softener you use? Well, quite literally, these products are making people sick.
cite: by Damon Franz and Holly Prall, emagazine.com.
Making Your Environment Safer: (for friends with MCS) Suggestions for laundry, body care, and Home and car care.
What is Chemical and Fragrance Sensitivity?: Unlike allergies, which are usually a result of your immune system overreacting to normally benign substances like pollen or seafood, chemical sensitivities are often a result of a reaction to known toxins. Most things that cause chemical sensitivity reactions have some toxic chemicals in them. Perfumes, for example, can have as many as 4,000 different chemicals in them, a large percentage of which are made from petroleum and many of which have some level of toxicity. Formaldehyde is used extensively in wood furniture manufacture and building construction and is very toxic (it is a significant ingredient used in chipboard). Smog has Nitrous compounds, toxic hydrocarbons, and ozone to name a few. Your hypersensitivity to these kinds of substances that other people seem to handle with no problem is your body's way of saying that it doesn't want any more exposure because it hasn't got the capacity to handle it anymore. . .
cite: by David Tan, alerg.com.
The Healthy Housing Coalition, P.O. Box 1213, Cedar Crest, NM. 87008, (505) 281-6405, firstname.lastname@example.org. MCS & Less Toxic Living, Common Misconceptions about MCS.
Live Environmentally Safe
San Juan Islands, Washington: Article written in response to someone in New York considering moving to Florida but looking into other options.
Ecology House, San Rafael, California. A HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) PRAC-811 funded 11 unit apartment building designed, constructed, and maintained for people with extreme environmental sensitivities. It has been open since Fall 1994, and has a long nation-wide waiting list.
Scorecard - the Pollution Information Site: Get an in-depth pollution report for your county, covering air, water, chemicals, and more.
Clary-Meuser Research Network: Global Environmental Risk Map
Search For A Toxin-Free Shangri-La: CIIN does not make specific recommendations, but it does make two suggestions here that may be of help. The first is a set of basic principles to consider in looking for a place to go. The second is an alternative housing possibility in sharing accommodations. Also a map showing airborne dispersion of 148 common pollutants.
Tad Taylor's Healthy Homes: Healthy homes come in all different levels, each addressing any given number of concerns. There is no way to create a truly healthy home without specifically addressing the project from a one pointed health perspective. Understanding not only the theory, but the practical aspects of every single one of all the critical areas that are required to site, design, manage and build a home properly, is a life's work, not a hobby or a part time concentration. It must be lived.