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Read more – environmental sensitivities

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May is Environmental Sensitivities (ES) month.
The term Environmental Sensitivities includes Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and Electro Hypersensitivity (EHS)

What can you do to help people who suffer from this medical condition?
Become a Scent-Free Healthy Household!

Take a keen look at your personal and cleaning products

Be Aware of Electromagnetic Radiation Electromagnetic hypersensitivity, also known as electro-sensitivity or electro-hypersensitivity, is a disorder in which a person presents symptoms caused or aggravated by magnetic fields or waves.

For solutions visit: www.em3e.com

If you know people who have this medical condition, please accommodate their needs – you are also helping yourself and your family!

If you suffer from this medical condition, know that we at ASEQ-EHAQ are working hard to create awareness and education, and to obtain recognition and appropriate health and social services for sufferers in Quebec.

Do you want to help? Contact us!

What is it? How many people have been diagnosed?

Over 1 million Canadians have been diagnosed with this medical condition.

Environmental Sensitivities (ES) includes all sensitivities such as Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) and Electromagnetic Sensitivity (EMS).

  • 179,000 Quebecers have been diagnosed with ES (Statistic Canada, 2010), up from 171,000 in 2005.
  • The number of people in Canada diagnosed with this condition has increased by 34% during this same period.
  • ~3% of Canadians have been diagnosed with MCS, which commonly overlaps with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia (Statistics Canada, 2007).
  • 5% of Canadians (1.5 million people) have been diagnosed with at least one of these disorders (Statistics Canada, 2007).
  • 3.6% of Canadian nurses experience chemical sensitivities (2005 National Survey of the Work and Health of Nurses).

Environmental Sensitivities (ES) can be a disabling medical condition triggered either by one large exposure to chemicals, biological substances or electromagnetic radiation. It can also be precipitated by low exposures to these same elements, over a period of time. The result of this can dramatically affect the life of the individual. People who were once able to function in various aspects of life within their homes, at work and in the community, suddenly find themselves physically unable to tolerate many products. Low levels of exposures in their daily lives now make them ill.

Disabling symptoms can occur such as: extreme fatigue, swelling, an inability to concentrate or think clearly (brain fog), memory problems, dizziness, pain in the body (muscles and joints as well as the eyes, scalp and face), bruising, tachycardia, gastro-intestinal symptoms (diarrhea, bloating, etc.) to name but a few. Removal of the offending agents results in in symptom improvement. However the symptoms can continue to affect the person for many days. If the person cannot find organic food, clean water, a healthy place to live and work free from offending agent(s), the symptoms can be provoked by additional substances such as foods, exposure to noise or light, etc. Eventually, these sensitivity reactions can be triggered by even lower doses of incitants (provoking agents).

The consequences of Non-Recognition

Life for the individual suffering from Environmental Sensitivities (ES) becomes unbearable especially in a world that relies so heavily on chemicals and electromagnetic radiation.

Simple things that one takes for granted such as a movie or an evening at the theater, dinner with a companion or banking and shopping for essentials becomes impossible.

‘No place to run, no place to hide’ becomes a reality and unless the is cared for with appropriate housing, treatment and compassion for the huge losses they have suffered, they experience isolation and exclusion from society with no support from a Health and social services system supposedly available to all.

If accommodation, such as a scent and smoke-free environment, proper ventilation, appropriate materials for renovations and cleaning, etc., is not provided in the work environment, the person is ultimately unable to work.

Lack of proper information on the medical condition can also lead to family disintegration.

Often, the sufferer is unable to find adequate, healthy housing and ends up homeless. Living and sleeping on a verandah, tent or in the car, is a common occurrence. Often the individual is constantly unwell because of exposures to products emanating from neighbouring apartments.

Lack of recognition, treatment and social services also causes much physical, emotional and social harm. ASEQ-EHAQ is witness to the fact that there is a steady progression of breakdown in communication from social support systems, due to a lack of awareness and education, leaving the very ill individual on their own and susceptible to neglect and abuse.

Treatments available elsewhere

Is it possible to treat this condition? Yes!

The basis for best management of this condition is to provide healthy spaces in which to work and live.

Studies have found that people suffering from ES are unable to detoxify commonly encountered chemicals and medications.

Doctors trained in Environmental Medicine help people who suffer from this condition, improve their health and manage their sensitivities. The goal is to support and heal the detoxification, immunological and energy production systems. Each case is individual and has to be treated accordingly. One size does not fit all.

Treatment for this condition is available in Ontario and Nova Scotia. Countries such as Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and Japan treat this medical condition and provide health and social services for those who suffer from it.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is the global standard-setter for assessing and classifying health problems. It is the most important reference for physicians, governments and courts alike around the world.

Uniform classification of medical conditions is important because it encourages international scientific study and sharing of results. It also creates the basis for the assignment of codes in health care systems for provision of insured diagnostic and treatment services, and it can point in the direction of the primary necessary treatment approaches.

On March 12, 2012, the European Parliament released a written declaration requesting that Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EMS) be included in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases (ICD). It states that health inequalities regarding these conditions between different European countries should be eradicated and that Member States should include MCS and EHS in their own ICDs and in their Lists of Occupational Diseases. It further states that s who suffer from these conditions that involve ‘serious risks’ have ‘no influence over the air they breathe and exposure to electromagnetic radiation’, and also urge member states ‘to apply existing rules regarding EM radiation and exposure to harmful substances and to apply the precautionary principle strictly’ in order to effectively protect people with this condition, ‘whose number is growing exponentially’.

Economic impact

The costs of this medical condition are incalculable: increased health care costs of repeated visits with little if any improvements to show for it, lost opportunities (trained professionals are no longer in the workplace), caregivers are diverted from other work, social stress as families break up, loss of quality of life, etc.

A study done in 2000 shows that across Canada, there are billions in direct and indirect costs.
These costs are related to:

  • Lost productivity
  • Lost opportunities
  • Decreased tax base
  • Avoidable health care costs
  • Disability payments

Kassirer J and Sandiford K. Socio-Economic Impacts of Environmental Illness in Canada. 15-11-2000. The Environmental Illness Society of Canada.

The Centers for Occupational and Environmental Health, University of California. GREEN CHEMISTRY: Cornerstone to a Sustainable California, January 2008. see: http://coeh.berkeley.edu/greenchemistry/briefing/

There is evidence that taking care of this issue has a positive economic impact. The Nova Scotia Environmental Health Centre (NSEHC) reports that health care utilization for those diagnosed with MCS was almost twice the provincial average. This health care utilization decreased to normal after NSEHC treatment. (Fox et al, 2007)

Prevention

Our external environment can become our internal environment. For this reason we must insist on clean air, clean water and clean food.

Your indoor air quality will depend on what you put into it. It is therefore in the interest of your health to choose least toxic products for personal use, cleaning and maintenance. Be mindful of your humidity levels and adequate ventilation to prevent mould and decrease indoor pollution. For cases of mould infestation, contact a reliable company for testing and clean up. Educate yourself on the best possible manner to do this in order to protect your health. Even if you do not have electro sensitivity, it is a good idea to have electromagnetic hygiene. For more details, please click here.

If needed, research the best water purification system for you. Studies have shown that several man-made products including pharmaceuticals are showing up in tap water. Avoid storing your water in plastic containers. Glass, ceramic and stainless steel containers are available for this purpose.

Organic food is one of the best investments for your health. Try freezing organic farm vegetables in the summer to tide you through the winter.

Prevention of Environmental Sensitivities touches on all the choices we make in our lives. Take a look at what you use and its impact on yourself, your neighbours and our little friends in the environment. As the saying goes: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.