|Re: Chemical sensitivities||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Mary English (Mary.Englishhsc.utah.edu)|
|Date: Mon, 1 Aug 2005 17:30:29 -0700 (PDT)|
Here at Wasatch Cohousing I tried to initiate a discussion about chemical sensitivity. I have severe asthma triggered by aerosolized chemicals, as well as things like cigarette smoke, some soaps and some perfumes. On top of that, I have a cardiac arrhythmia that can be triggered by taking the large amounts of albuterol I need to control the asthma, and that means still getting hauled to the emergency room, even if I can get the asthma attack under control. The group agreed to not allow cigarette smoking in the common house, but insisted that people can burn incense and scented candles in the common house. Then they also complained loudly that I would not come and sit in the room with everyone for meetings. (I would sit outside in the door. In the winter I also got complaints about the cold draft as I huddled next to the open crack in a coat and blankets.) I also heard criticism that I was not coming for meals. A little hard to join a discussion or enjoy food when you can't breath. One member suggested I get a gas mask to wear so they would not be inconvenienced. I'm not the only one in the group with asthma. Several families have children with asthma, one of whom ends up regularly in the ER. Let me give you some statistics: 10% of the adult population is diagnosed with asthma, 21.9 million people. And 12 1/2% of children have been diagnosed with it, 9.1 million. That's 30 million total. Asthma treatment costs $14 billion a year (yes that is a B as in billion.) It is responsible for 14.7 million missed school days a year (that's 1/4 of all missed school days), and 11.8 million missed work days a year. And almost 5,000 people die of asthma a year in the US. And the numbers are growing every year, a spiraling epidemic. And don't think that because you don't have it now, that you will not get it. I was in my late 40s when my asthma started. I had to give up folk dancing. I now shop in the middle of the night when the stores are empty. Go to the movies at 10 AM when they are nearly empty, or rent VCRs. And forget going to a ballet or opera. To fly, I start high dose steroids several days before getting on a plane, explain to the stewardess and show her where my medicines are, in case. And of course, there are the unforgettable minutes in ER listening to the oxygen oximiter screaming while the respiratory therapist scurries around, and the intern is eagerly hovering in the door hoping to get a chance to intubate you. So, only a few years back, I was just like you, leading a carefree unconcerned life; able to go where I wanted, when I wanted, happily dabbing on perfume, and using scented bath oil. Is it worth planning for people with multiple chemical sensitivities, and asthma? Definitely. Look at the statistics. It may even be your future that you are planning for. I suspect Lyn was right when she said we are the canaries in the coal mine. It just took less exposure for us, then for the other 90% of the population.
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