EHN [of California]
P.O. Box 1155
Larkspur, California, 94977-0074

Support and Information Line
(SAIL) 415.541.5075
A 501 (c) (3) non profit agency.

Accessibility and Environmental Justice --
Its Glacial Pace

May 9, 2000

Amy Marsh, President
Environmental Health Network
P.O. Box 1155
Larkspur, CA 94977

Lawrence W. Roffee, Executive Director
June Issacson Kailes, Chair
Office of Technical and Information Services
U.S. Government Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board
1331 F Street, NW., Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004-1111

RE: Access for People Disabled by MCS, electromagnetic sensitivity, asthma, etc.

36 CFR Parts 1190 and 1191; [Docket No. 99-1]; RIN 3014-AA20
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities; Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) Accessibility Guidelines

Dear Mr. Roffee, Ms. Kailes, and Members of the Access Board:

Glaciers. They are made of trillions of droplets of water hardened to ice. They start small, but build in momentum even as they increase in size. They move slowly, but eventually wear away mountains. Their existence, and their effects, are profound and inevitable.

In a world overrun by chemical and electromagnetic technologies which jeopardize all forms of life on this planet, we, the chemically and electromagnetically disabled, are a truly a population with the same glacial inevitability and momentum. Our numbers are increasing and, as far as we can tell from our grassroots vantage, show no sign of tapering off. All of our organizations are besieged with cries for help with housing, employment, health care, etc.

However, the glacial pace of accessibility and environmental justice, as exemplified by years of neglect from your agency, is completely unacceptable to this group of profoundly disabled American citizens. It is time for the Access Board to recognize the new disabling conditions which have resulted from new technologies. Along with this recognition, the Access Board needs to develop the will and practical imagination to deal with our legitimate access issues--some of which are quite easily and rationally addressed. It is time for you to do right by us.

This neglect is doubly tragic in that many of the measures we suggest which can be taken to accommodate our needs for access to medical care, transportation, housing, education, jobs and basic services have the additional value of serving as cost effective, preventative measures for people who are not yet sick with such conditions as asthma, Gulf War Syndrome, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, chemical or electromagnetic sensitivity, cystic fibrosis, etc. In particular, measures to improve indoor air quality must be part of the Access Board's agenda.

Because our numbers are growing, we as a group are certain that the day will eventually come when our rights to access will be addressed and supported by laws and practical measures as a matter of course. However, the glacial pace of the inevitable triumph of our cause is small comfort when on a daily basis we cannot have access to even the simplest necessary things that other American citizens take for granted.

On behalf of the members of the Environmental Health Network in California, I am writing to urge you to set standards that would take into consideration the following suggestions. I have also enclosed a copy of the valuable letter and the Cleaner Air symbol sent to the board via email by Susan Molloy on May 8, 2000, as she has covered some things, such as the threat posed by the Access Boardís current rules to safe housing for people with chemical injuries and electromagnetit disabilities, with more detail and greater emphasis.

I wish to point out that providing lines of communication and easy access to information are key to providing access for people with the above disabilities. Establishing avenues for communication and information can be simple, ìlow-techî and inexpensive and in many cases may simply require some retraining of key personnel such as custodians, human resource people, receptionists, purchasers of supplies, etc.

By providing this list, there is no intent to limit the scope of the board in its endeavor to establish enforceable regulations to protect access for the millions of people who face invisible, but formidable, chemical or electromagnetic barriers. The growing numbers of people with asthma alone should be enough to spur your agency to incorporate these very practical suggestions.

  1. Reduce/eliminate exposures to superfluous toxic chemicals in building materials for the built environment, be it in/around buildings or within public transportation conveyances.

    Use low-emitting VOW (volatile organic compound) products such as paints, carpets, adhesives, wall-coverings, vehicle seats, et al., for rehabilitation, remodeling and new construction. Set standards for their use, just as standards are set for carpet pile depth and density to enable access for people using mobility aids, and as turnaround space is defined to accommodate a wheelchair.

  2. Remove the "FEDS" or fragrance emission devices/systems and all perfume and deodorizer "stick-ons" from restrooms and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in buildings and vehicles.

  3. Install buzzers/intercoms/TTYs/house phones outside at wheelchair-accessible entrances, and other likely entrances, in a sheltered, exhaust- and smoke-free area, which is not chemically treated for pests. We need to phone into a facility to announce our arrival, ask for assistance outdoors, or directions about how to get to the safest nearby designated area within the structure. People disabled by chemical and electromagnetic field-triggered sensitivities must be able to summon assistance in a safe area.

  4. Require signage boards (permanent) on which notices can be posted such as the attached "Cleaner Air symbol" and "No smoking here at all;" "Do not idle your motor;" "Leave this designated area now if you, your clothes or your hair product contains fragrance, or if you have just been treated with a chemical product for lice," and so on.

    Also, we need clear signage indicating a communication device, which we can use from outdoors (see 3, above). Also, we also require temporary signage such as: "Don't enter if you are chemically sensitive -- we just waxed" (cleaned, painted, carpeted, applied pest control chemicals); include substance/date/time information. This is of utmost importance even if "least-toxic" products were used.

  5. Increase ventilation of parking garages; increase the number of handicap parking slots near safe exits.

  6. Landscape and build/remodel according to established practices that eliminate the need for maintenance with chemical weed, insect, or mold control substances.

  7. Utilize ceramic tiles and other safe materials; use mold-resistent materials around plumbing and HVAC systems; install only ventilating systems that can be easily cleaned; set standards for proper placement of exhaust vents and air-intakes so foul air isn't drawn back into the building.

  8. Create a cleaner-air zone for health care facilities, government agencies, and other entities charged with serving the public. Improving indoor air quality is recommended for the population as a whole by the Surgeon General's Healthy People 2000 campaign and many other medical professionals. Why not insure that the Access Board's proposed rules support other government efforts to improve human health?

  9. In a room or pathway meant to be accessible to people with chemical and/or electromagnetic injury-related symptoms:
      a) give people the option to turn off the fluorescent lighting, and instead use incandescent lights or daylight;
      b) make provisions enabling occupants and visitors to unplug computers and other electrical gear;
      c) be able to open windows;
      d) do not require use of elevators or escalators to reach the cleaner-air zone.

The Access Board can change society's attitude and institutionalized practices of overt discrimination against people who are chemically injured by acknowledging our right to access and setting standards accordingly. While helping us gain access, you will protect everyone. You will make strides in turning the tide of burgeoning environmental illnesses that are affecting all ages, genders and races. Though not part of your mandate, you would also be implementing measures which will improve public health in general.

At this moment in history, you have the opportunity to serve this currently neglected disabled community. You have the power to right major wrongs which continue to result in needless human suffering and even death. You cannot imagine the heart-rending suffering of people who are profoundly disabled with these conditions. Such things should not be allowed in a society which refers to itself as civilized or which purports to be responsive to the needs of its citizens.

Please act now to help these fellow citizens and human beings. Please act now in the revision of your proposed rules. Thank you.


Amy Marsh

cc: President Bill Clinton
Vice President Al Gore
C.W. Bill Young, Chair, House Committee Appropriations
Frank Wolfe, Chair, Subcommittee Transportation Appropriations
John Blazey, Subcommittee Transportation Appropriations
Martin Sabo, Ranking Member, Subcommittee Transportation Appropriations
Dianne Feinstein, Senate
Barbara Boxer, Senate
Nancy Pelosi, House of Representatives



703.7.2.5 Cleaner Air Symbol. This symbol shall be the standard used to identify a path of travel, a room, and/or facility that is accessible to and usable by people who are adversely impacted by airborne chemicals or particulate and/or the use of electrical fixtures and/or devices. When used, the symbol shall comply with Figure 703.7.2.5. The symbol shall be used when the following minimum conditions are met.

    703. Color and size of symbol. The symbol, which shall include the text „Cleaner Air¾ as shown, shall be displayed either as a negative or positive image within a square which is a minimum of 6 inches on each side. The symbol may be shown in black and white or in color. When color is used, it shall be Federal Blue (Color No. 15090 in Federal Standard 595B) on white or white on Federal Blue.

    703. Conditions of use. The following shall n’ot be used in the area of the path of travel, room and/or facility identified by the Cleaner Air Symbol: Floor adhesives, new carpets, particleboard, fluorescent lighting, pesticide, aerosols of any type, cleaning or maintenance chemicals, fresh paint, fragrances.

    703. HVAC and electrical controls. Heating, ventilation, air conditioning and electrical device controls, if provided, shall be operable by, or on behalf of, the occupant where the path of travel, room and/or facility is identified by the Cleaner Air Symbol.

    703. Removal of symbol. If the path of travel, room and/or facility identified by the Cleaner Air Symbol should temporarily or permanently cease to meet the minimum conditions as set forth above, the Cleaner Air Symbol shall be removed and shall not be replaced until the minimum conditions are again met.


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The Environmental Health Network (EHN) [of California] is a 501 (c) (3) non profit agency and offers support and information for the chemically injured. HomePage is