TESTIMONY FOR AUGUST 23, 2005 SPECIAL FORUM ON
CONCERNS OF PEOPLE AFFECTED BY HOUSEHOLD CHEMICALS
Mon, 22 Aug 2005 9:51 PM
To The Governor's Commission on Disabilities:
I am a 55-year old, RI woman with MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities).
I was chemically injured, 6 years ago, when I bought a house that had just been completely renovated. All the toxins inherent in products like new carpeting, with stain resisters, new cabinets with their laminates, glues, and formaldehydes, paints with VOC's, pesticides etc., conspired to permanently compromise my already stressed detoxification system. I was never able to move into the house.
Within months I could no longer tolerate the minutest amount of toxins. Everything was eliminated. All household chemicals, soaps, perfumes, art supplies, newspapers, etc. I could no longer work, go into buildings or the homes of family and friends. Save a plumber, no one has come into my apt. to visit, in 6 years, except a handful of times when other folks with MCS stopped by. I cannot ride in anyone else's car.
I no longer have a doctor or a dentist. There are none that truly deal with or understand how to treat people with severe EI (Environmental Illness), here in RI. I broke a front tooth almost 2 years ago but cannot safely have it repaired.
When neighbors use lawn treatments like TruGreen or Chemlawn, I stay inside with all of the windows shut. The same when someone paints a fence, leaves a truck running, uses their clothes dryer (w/ fabric softeners), lays down cedar mulch, light a charcoal grill, use citronella candles, use a woodburning stove and Heaven forbid someone seal coats their tarred driveway.
Through avoidance, a relatively organic diet and a mountain of supplements, I have improved. I can now write with some pens, read a book (that took 2 years), go into Whole Foods supermarket, and enter some places for a brief amount of time.
I have but scratched the surface. There are more and more Chemically Injured folks out there and we need help! We need what the ADA refers to as "reasonable accommodation." It's a well intentioned law with almost no "teeth," with regard to MCS. We need to be able to have access to hospitals, public transportation, and even public restrooms, without being bombarded with a potentially lethal soup of disinfectants, masking perfumes and pesticides.
For the past 2 years I have been paying my landlady double rent to keep her from renovating the apt below me. I ran out of time, after looking for several years, I had to buy a home that is less than safe. I have 5 weeks to fix major problems in the house, have little funds and almost no help in doing it. My landlady says she will have to start "doing things" downstairs next week as she can no longer leave the apt. idle. I am scared to death.
Don't think for a minute that my situation is unique; that it couldn't happen to you. I had a job as Sign Language Interpreter; before that I was a scene painter. I wore make-up, perfume; deodorant. I dined in restaurants; swam in chlorine treated pools. I attended meetings; flew on planes. I was "normal." I have since lost my job, my home, family, friends, my spouse.
As someone with MCS once told me, "When you have EI it's like you are suddenly transported to a planet where you can't eat, drink or breathe." Unfortunately that planet is Earth.
Thank you for your time.
Feel free to contact me with any questions.
Linda C Dugas