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Chemical Injury. Bonita Poulin Canadian Coordinator GLOBAL RECOGNITION CAMPAIGN Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and other Chemically Induced Illnesses, Diseases & Injury affecting civilians and military personnel

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chemical injury
Chemical Injury

Bonita Poulin

Canadian CoordinatorGLOBAL RECOGNITION CAMPAIGNMultiple Chemical Sensitivityand other Chemically Induced Illnesses, Diseases & Injuryaffecting civilians and military

studies show many illnesses could have an environmental chemical connection
Studies show many illnesses could have an environmental/chemical connection




Brain & Central Nervous System Damage



Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Gulf War Syndrome (GWS)

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)



Heart disease

Arterial Sclerosis

many forms of Arthritis

Macular Degeneration


Multiple Sclerosis


ALS (Lou Gehrigs)

how to know when you ve had an exposure
How to know when you’ve had an exposure?

Whenever you can:




a chemical

you have already been exposed!

*Some chemicals/fumes cannot be seen or smelled

how do chemical injuries happen
How do chemical injuries happen?

one or more large exposures or multiple smaller exposures over time via



skin contact

absorption through eyes

how i got sick
How I Got Sick
  • worked 10+ years at a laundry detergent factory
  • responsible for making sure chemicals were being added things were flowing through the various pipes, pumps etc.
  • developed first case of Bronchitis during first week working in dept & 5 more times during first 2 & ½ years
  • in 1991 the company’s enzyme hygiene program found several employees were sensitized to enzymes
how i got sick7
How I got sick
  • investigation revealed defective respirators
  • better respirators purchased for the entire plant with strict training & maintenance program
  • were told to wear PPE and no health problems
  • 1994 I developed asthma – using inhaler
  • 1995 department safety, enzyme and hazardous system coordinator - moved me into the office area – still did tours, inspections
how i got sick8
How I Got Sick
  • 1997 developed bilateral carpal tunnel and tennis elbows, - I did not do any repetitive work
  • carpal release surgeries on both hands
  • more carpal tunnel & arthritic symptoms
  • diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • 1998 back to regular technician job in department
  • after 3 days of working with chemicals I started having some serious problems - left hand & arm was swollen to twice the size of my right hand
how i got sick9
How I got Sick
  • ordered by plant doctor to take 3 days off to rest
  • rheumatologist - only office work indefinitely
  • carpal tunnel symptoms continued & Rheumatoid Arthritis spread & worsened
  • short term disability for several months and my carpal tunnel healed by itself
  • back at work - trouble thinking clearly & concentrating, severe fatigue & spontaneous crying for no reason
how i got sick10
How I Got Sick
  • carpal tunnel symptoms started up again & Rheumatoid Arthritis got worse
  • discovered Brown Antibiotic Protocol for Mycoplasma as a cure to Rheumatoid Arthritis & talked family doctor into trying it in fall 1989
  • worsening of symptoms from die-off so was referred to an Environmental doctor on Ottawa
  • provocation & neutralization testing discovered many food & environmental allergies & chemical sensitivities that contributed to symptoms
how i got sick11
How I Got Sick
  • list of things to avoid, strict diet, nutritional supplements & serums to neutralize reactions and build up immunity
  • dr. advised me to stop working at factory but I refused – pay & benefits too good
  • avoidance & serums worked well for while - asthma, carpal tunnel and Rheumatoid Arthritis got better
  • new symptoms - slurring speech, staggered gait, constant nausea, dizziness, reduced sensation on the left side of body & occasional jerking of my right hand - couldn’t read what I had written
how i got sick12
How I Got Sick
  • environmental doctor discovered I was on verge of a stroke with thick sticky blood
  • dr. insisted I take a couple of weeks off work
  • advised us to remove all chemicals from home & wash everything in Borax & baking soda to eliminate residual chemicals
  • the more of this we did, the better I felt - no longer sick while at home
  • now I got nauseous & dizzy from a whiff of perfume, woodsmoke or other exposures & was constantly vomitting.
living with mcs
Living With MCS
  • no longer able to tolerate any environment other than my house – totally disabled by MCS
  • for over a year I had to wear disposable mask everywhere to reduce exposures
  • we owned a hobby farm 5 miles east of Brockville
  • whenever wind blew from the town the factory’s perfume would make me nauseous & dizzy, even inside my home.
  • installed electronic air filtration - helped while inside but still sick when I went outdoors.
living with mcs14
Living With MCS
  • started having more and more left sided weakness (partial paralysis) –unable to look after my horses
  • 2005 decided we had to move away from area
  • used map to find area with few roads, very little farming and no industry
  • used website that tells all the polluters in area when postal code punched in
  • searched “For Sale By Owner” websites until we found our safe house in Quadeville
living with mcs15
Living With MCS
  • house was 10 years old, built of century logs, sits high on hill surrounded by forest, no neighbours for ½ a mile
  • inside is all natural wood with hardwood and ceramic floors, no drywall and no basement
  • equipped with energy conserving Heat Recovery Ventilator with charcoal filter and humidity control
people i know have developed multiple chemical sensitivities f rom
People I Know Have Developed Multiple Chemical Sensitivities From:
  • pesticide application
  • carpet installation
  • construction and renovations
  • inhabiting a sick building (pesticides, moulds)
  • handling strong chemicals
  • burning CCA pressure treated wood and garbage
  • breathing polluted air
what is mcs multiple chemical sensitivity
What is MCS?Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
  • a chronic condition
  • affecting multiple organ systems
  • symptoms recur reproducibly
  • in response to low levels exposures to unrelated chemicals
  • symptoms improve when incidents are removed
  • reactions may be immediate or delayed
is mcs an allergic condition
Is MCS An Allergic Condition?

MCS is not an allergic condition although it is sometimes described that way in order to make it easier to understand.

Many of the immediate MCS reactions occur via the central nervous system rather than the immune system. i.e. migraine, numbness, nausea


Because the body is constantly exposed, the reactions become the normal state and so reactions to specific things go unnoticed.

However, the person never feels well and complains of various symptoms never relating them to exposures.

After several days of avoidance symptoms clear and then can be noticed when they reoccurafter a new exposure.


Reactions to environmental stimuluscan be emotional and often varies from depression to mania and can change from one to another very quickly. Patients are often misdiagnosed as bipolar.

biochemical individuality
Biochemical Individuality:

The total body burden from current and past illnesses and exposures and the immune system status of the patient as well as their parents.

Studies have shown that chemical exposures can cause changes for several generations.

spreading or kindling
Spreading or Kindling:

One sensitivity leads to many more and to unrelated items.

MCSers usually also develop intolerances to foods eaten regularly and hypersensitivities to molds, pollen, algae, insect bites, and medications, all of which can be



With repeated exposures symptoms become more severe and can become life threatening i.e.

anaphylactic shock instead of nausea

why is it so important for an mcsers to avoid exposures
Why is it so important for an MCSers to avoid exposures?

Each exposure causes the MCSer to:

. become less tolerant to exposures

. develop sensitivities to new things

. reactions can become more serious and even life threatening!

what causes mcs
What causes MCS?

MCSers have defective detoxification pathways meaning their bodies accumulate toxins instead of removing them. These defects are caused by exposures to certain chemicals.

Many MCSers can pinpoint the exact time of their sensitization and most often it is linked to exposures to pesticides or solvents.


MCSers can develop symptoms from exposure to:

  • Scented products
  • Solvents
  • Body care products
  • Construction materials
  • Furniture / Appliances
  • Cigarette Smoke
  • And more…
symptoms of multiple chemical sensitivity
Symptoms of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

. can affect any part of the body

Severity and duration of the reaction depends on:

· type of chemical involved

· frequency, intensity and duration of the exposure

· history of past exposures, especially recent

· biochemical makeup of the person i.e. immune system status, health and exposures of parents

common mcs symptoms
Common MCS Symptoms

respiratory illnesses

neurological problems

mental /cognitive capacity

severe muscle and joint pain

mood swings

extreme fatigue

Regardless of the form in which the symptoms of MCS manifest themselves, it is a reaction to the toxic chemicals in our environment not to smells.

how prevalent is mcs
How prevalent is MCS?

. An alarmingly increasing public health problem worldwide especially in industrialized areas

. Millions of people of all ages, including young children, have become sensitized following exposure to toxic chemicals in the environment.

. Toxic pesticides that are used in schools, housing, offices, malls, lawns, public parks and facilities, contribute greatly to the incidence of MCS.

canadian mcs statistics
Canadian MCS Statistics

Socio-economic impact of MCS study of Canadians in 2001 by the

Environmental Illness Society of Canada

•4 million Canadians (approximately 15%) are affected by chemical sensitivity, half a million of whom are severe cases, with 5,000 being disabled by this condition.

• $10 billion are lost in productivity,

• $1 billion is lost in taxes,

• $1 billion is used in avoidable health care costs,

• $1 billion in (avoidable disabilities) paid

mcs causes many life changing losses
MCS Causes Many Life-changing Losses

• health

• ability to work and support self/family

• financial security and ability to buy

• self-confidence and self worth

• hobbies and enjoyment

• social interaction (family, friends)

• entertainment (movies, concerts, shopping, dining)

• marriage and relationships

• ability to complete activities of daily living

• home (live year round in cars, tents etc.)

what is it like to live with mcs
What is it like to live with MCS?

Imagine a life in which you have to stay away from anyone using regular laundry and personal care products and places that use chemicals lest you become ill?

  • A teacher who can’t be near books or photocopies or work in a portable classroom
  • A soldier that can’t tolerate cleaning their gun or polishing their boots
who a cknowledge s mcs
Who Acknowledges MCS?

Canada Pension Plan



Nova Scotia Worker’s Compensation

Health Canada

Ontario Ministry of Health

Ontario Medical Association

Nova Scotia Medical Association

Nova Scotia Department of Health

Public Works Canada

Public Service Alliance of Canada

Ontario Human Rights Commission

Canadian Human Rights Commission

t he ontario canadian human rights act s state
The Ontario & Canadian Human Rights Acts state:

Employers, schools, offices,

hotels, stores, Doctors and Dentists,

Health Care Facilities, other

public places and transportation

must make their premises accessible

and provide reasonable


mcs disability
MCS & Disability

.Most disabled MCS patients are denied disability pensions because “there are no tests to prove It” because medical science cannot agree on test requirements.

.The chemical manufacturing industry has launched an anti-MCS campaign designed to create the illusion of controversy about MCSand cast doubt on its existence.

.“The only diversity of opinion comes from the authors with industry affiliations.”

rise responsible industry f or a sound environment
RISE Responsible Industry For A Sound Environment

.RISE is made up of executives from companies like Monsanto, Sandoz Agro, DowElanco, Dupont Agricultural Products, The Scotts Company, Procter and Gamble and other pesticide manufacturers, formulators, and distributors

.Keeping MCS controversial is a key task of the cigarette-science activities of RISE.

is t here a c ure f or mcs
Is There ACure For MCS?

.There is no cure for MCS using allopathic medicine.

.Drugs administered to treat symptoms are usually not well tolerated and often end up making the patient worse.

.Until recently, General Practitioners had no training in toxicology or environmental health.

.The Ontario College of Family Physicians developed and is now conducting training on Environmental Health for new family doctors.

things t hat d o h elp
Things That Do Help

·avoidance to prevent severe reactions and worsening including eating only whole organic foods

· supplementing with the required nutrients

·detoxing to lower total body burden

·keeping a positive attitude with activities that promote self-esteem

Great strides have been made with alternativehealth care approaches i.e.Environmental Medicine, Holistic Medicine, Orthomolecular Medicine, Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Acupuncture & Chiropractic.

can avoidance cure mcs
Can Avoidance Cure MCS?

Total avoidance is impossible. A person with MCS can only decrease exposures, not eliminate them completely.

It is important to avoid toxic chemicals whenever possible to prevent worsening.

mcsers fall through the cracks
MCSers Fall Through The Cracks

Most of the treatments that help are not covered by OHIP or the Health Insurance Industry and are expensive.

Since many MCSers have no health insurance and have only small or no disability pensions, it is impossible for them to afford the help they need.

hazardous of fragrances
Hazardous Of Fragrances
  • up to 4,000 ingredients, mostly synthetic
  • many are human toxins and suspected or proven carcinogens
  • in 1989, the US National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health evaluated 2,983 fragrance chemicals for health effects
  • they identified 884 of them as toxic substances
why a scent free policy
Why A Scent Free Policy
  • fragrances are everywhere & in everything
  • known to trigger asthma attacks
  • US Environmental Protection Agency found that 100% of perfumes contain toluene, which can cause liver, kidney and brain damage as well as damage to a developing fetus.
  • is a common skinirritant.

Hazardous Of Fragrances

  • Symptoms reported to FDA from fragrance exposure include headaches, dizziness, rashes, skin discoloration, violent coughing and vomiting, and allergic skin irritation.
  • Clinical observations showthat fragrances can affect the central nervous system,
  • causing depression, hyperactivity,
  • irritability, inability tocope & other
  • behaviouralchanges.
analysis of eternity perfume by 2 independent laboratories
Analysis Of “Eternity” Perfume By 2 Independent Laboratories

41 chemical ingredients

  • 5 areskin irritants
  • 3 are skin sensitizers (cause contact dermatitis)
  • 6 are respiratory tract irritants
  • 2 are respiratory sensitizers (cause asthma)
  • 5 are nervous system irritants
  • 1 is toxic to central nervous system
  • 2 affect reproductive systems
  • 2 affect fetus
  • 3 are suspected carcinogens (cause cancer)
  • 27 have not been thoroughly investigatedfor health or toxicologicalproperties
  • 11 have little or no data
essential oils tips cautions
Essential Oils - Tips &Cautions
  • MCSers are often sensitive to even small quantities of essential oils, especially the stronger smelling ones like tea tree, lemon and patchouli.
  • Strong smelling scents, even natural ones, are not appropriate for scent-free workplaces.
where t o buy scent free products
Where To Buy Scent-Free Products
  • Many products labeled as perfume-free actually use a masking fragrance to hide smells of other chemicals
  • Truly scent-free personal care products cannot be found in drug stores, grocery stores or department stores!
air freshener deodorizer
Air Freshener, Deodorizer

Freshenair by removing or diluting the

offending odour (cleaning, ventilation

absorption) not coveringwith other chemicals.

natural air freshening t ips
Natural Air Freshening Tips
  • baking soda will absorb odours
  • zeolite will absorb odours & heavy metals
  • simmer water and spices on stove
  • bowls of fragrant dried herbs & flowers (not commercial potpourri)
  • open a window & run central vacuum or use fan in another window to exchange air
anti bacterial soaps and cleaners are not necessary
Anti-bacterial soaps and cleaners are not necessary!
  • exposes us to harmful chemicals
  • high levels found in human breast milk
  • kill both beneficial and harmful bacteria leaves us more vulnerable to harmful ones
  • widespread use contributes to the development of resistant bacteria
  • children need exposure to some germs to develop their immune systems.
pest control
Pest Control

Free e-book on safe alternative pest control methods written by an ex pesticide applicator who developed MCS

learn to read labels
Learn to Read Labels
  • In Canada, ingredients are listed in order of quantity. The first ingredient makes up the greatest amount of the product
  • Ingredient lists may not contain all ingredients i.e. inert ingredients are not listed
  • Inert ingredients can be just as hazardous
Manufacturer’s Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are not required to list ingredients which make up less than 1% of a product.
  • Manufacturers can cite “trade secrets” as an excuse not to list ingredients anywhere.
  • In Canada, manufacturers are not required to list ingredients at all on labels of personal care products or household cleaning products. This is changing!
things to think about
Things To Think About

.The Center for Disease Control’s Body Burden report documents that everyone’s body contains manytoxic chemicals that should not be there.

.Everybody is only one exposure away from

developing Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Cancer or other Chemically Induced Illnesses.

.If you already react to one chemical, take heed because your body is warning you to be careful about exposures.

rules for your protection
Rules For Your Protection
  • Do not rely only on Personal Protective Equipment to protect you. PPE can fail!
  • Educate yourself about MCS & other chemical injuries
  • Use less harmful chemicals/products where ever possible
  • Pay attention to what your body is telling you
clean and safe environment
Clean and Safe Environment
  • An environment which is free ofsmoke, pesticides, fabric softeners, air fresheners, commercial disinfectants and anti-bacterial cleanerswill decrease exposures to many chemicals which have been linked to human health problems.
  • Choosing less toxic products is an important part of providing a healthy environment that benefits everyone.

Don’t be a stinker!

Chemicals in perfumes cause health problems!