Coach ousted by Chemicals and a Very Happy Chemical Thanksgiving

November 27th, 2003

To the Editor,

Corrections are indicated re: nature of Coach Allen’s illness (cited as multiple chemical sensitivity) and the meaning of sufficiency in your Thanksgiving editorial.

Illness related to chemical exposures is not rare. Sixteen percent of New Mexicans and Californians (survey by health departments) noted adverse reactions to commonly encountered chemicals while 2 and 6 percent respectively, were formally diagnosed with such intolerances.

The AMA recognizes immediate and latent effects of chemical toxicity in a variety of diagnostic codes (980). Millions additionally receive symptomatic diagnoses of asthma, allergy, eczema, rhinitis, reflux, peripheral neuropathy and even M.S. flares when such symptoms only occur in particular environments where exposures are occurring. Cardiac, kidney, liver and brain damage are known sequelae for chronic exposures and are listed on many product MSDS sheets.

The suffering is due to a insufficiency of fresh air, more vital than any component to a Thanksgiving dinner. Cranberry sauce runs a poor second to the attractions of a kitchen free of formaldehyde ridden wood-type cabinetry. Cooking turkeys in gas ranges allows for the release of unacceptable amounts of carbon monoxide and toxic mercaptin. Sweet potatoes are easier to digest when not sitting on furnishings filled with polyurethane and flame retardants next to people emitting fumes from petrochemicals, alcohol esters and other respiratory irritants found in synthetic fragrances. The ubiquitous use of sprayed pesticides provides a backdrop of highly toxic chemicals across all locales despite the existence of effective and economical alternatives.

“Safe levels” short of lethal dosages are generally unknown. No one discusses individual differences, the sensitization warnings on many MSDS sheets or the effects of mixtures of chemicals from so many sources. ‘Sufficiency’ takes on a new meaning when consumer ignorance is legally mandated by labelling laws omitting essential data and deceptive advertising. Greed drives the system and law removes our rights to make informed choices for our own households.

Barbara Rubin

Categories: NY Times

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