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.

Chemical and Electromagnetic Field Injuries / Sensitivities Ignored in Proposed Rule

May 7, 2000

Office of Technical and Information Services
Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board
1331 F Street NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004-1111

Members of the U.S. Access Board:

Despite your recently expressed modesty regarding your role in U.S. politics, the Access Board is the entity to which we all look for definition of what degree of accessibility is to be required, or expected, for anyone, with any and all disabling conditions, for all purposes, in the United States.

You as individual members have accepted this responsibility. You are to be commended for selflessly having invested your time, intelligence and resources in this extremely important effort.

However, there is an urgent, unaddressed issue that I would like to bring to your attention. The Proposed Rule now under review offers no protection to people with chemical and electromagnetic field injuries / sensitivities.

The Proposed Rule is NOT, to those of us living with these or related disabilities, just a benign stack of government paper, sadly (again) irrelevant to our needs. It is NOT the case that these Guidelines "do not help people with chemical sensitivities, but they won't hurt either," or that it is OK to stall longer until the "science is complete" or the "jury comes back."

The proposed Guidelines include, through accident or error, provisions which further damage hopes of access for people with chemical and electromagnetic field injuries / sensitivities.

The results of postponing, once again, the acknowledgement and protection of our access rights will result in serious, unnecessary injury to thousands of us who are already disabled, and in postponing protection for people with other disabilities or health conditions.

Attachment "A" is a proposal for voluntary "Cleaner-Air" signage, and a pictogram, that we suggest for voluntary designation of rooms and paths of travel voluntarily made and kept as accessible as is voluntarily possible, by voluntary participants. We propose that the Access Board recommend voluntary use of this sign and pictogram to designate facilities in which voluntary efforts to accommodate us have voluntarily been made.

Please study this language and the pictogram and determine if it might be adaptable for use by you within the proposed new Guidelines, and if it seems sufficiently non-threatening to whomever it is that calls the shots for your Board.

Then, following are listed several errors in the Proposed Rule that the Board can readily rectify. To assist us, you do not even have to take any "position" regarding our worthiness for A.D.A. and A.B.A. protection. You can simply say it is your intention, or duty, to protect children with asthma or epilepsy if this would be a more palatable position for you to defend.

The references are to sections of the current Proposed Rule that will injure us, if adopted. You can lessen this document's deleterious impact on us, if that is something you are willing to do.

Reference are from the Federal Register of Tuesday, November 16, 1999, entitled "Part II, Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, 36 CFR Parts 1190 and 1191, Americans with Disabilities Act Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities; Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Guidelines; Proposed Rule."

    Page 62281: Residential Facilities
    The Board has, according to this document, evidently taken over from other federal agencies the definition of specifications for "accessible" dwelling units including entrances, accessible routes, elevators, laundry, bathing facilities, kitchens, windows, storage. Buildings for which you can now define "accessibility" include multi-family dwelling units (apartments), hotels, homeless shelters, dormitories, rehabilitation and long-term care facilities, psychiatric facilities, group homes, and transient lodging.

    As things stand, with the currently fragmented access policies and standards of various Housing entities, at least some of us have had assistance not to be driven from our homes for periods of time, although we cannot safely use the public buildings or workplaces.

    The problem: the Access Board has accepted authority to define "accessibility" now, even for our shelter. If the Access Board responsibly and comprehensibly represented our interests this would have been a welcome change. As the Proposed Rule is currently worded, that the responsibility to define "accessible" housing now falls to the Access Board spells disaster for us.

    A serious compounding factor is that respected members of the Accessible Housing advocacy community in the U.S. are working diligently to demolish the H.U.D. Section 811 Program. These good advocates' demands, if met, will result in the one remaining protection for our safety, segregated housing, being made illegal.

    To date, the Access Board has indicated NO comprehension of the results for us. It is imperative, for us to stay alive, to have housing which is SEGREGATED from people who will invariably, inadvertently or intentionally, assault us with their chemical products and electrical equipment.

    Page 62290: 106.5 and Page 62332: F106.5, Defined Terms
    In this Proposed Rule, the word "Accessible" and "Accessible Route" are defined henceforth as designating only facilities "that comply with this Part." In other words, the word "accessible" is being hi-jacked, given a new, code-derived legal definition which ensures that we can no longer use it, to refer to places we can go or live, because there is currently no protection of our access in this Proposal Rule (this "Part"). This leaves us thrown to the wind.

    Page 62290: 106.5 and Page 62332: F106.5, Defined Terms
    "Alterations," as they may impede access and trigger alternative accommodations, is defined in the Proposed Rule to specifically, purposefully exclude "normal" maintenance (pesticide application? gluing down new carpet?); spreading molten asphalt on paths, parking lots, and roofs; painting; changes to mechanical and electrical systems (the ventilation?); other renovation or remodeling.

    These alterations are precisely those that constitute barriers to people who cannot withstand indoor air pollution. We are, by this Proposed Rule as it is now written, specifically singled out as "unprotected," specifically and publicly cut out of the fold.

    Page 62295: 202.3 and Page 62338: F202.3, Existing Buildings and Facilities, Alterations
    Here, the proposal states the hard-won principle that any "alteration to a facility shall provide accessibility to the maximum extent feasible. Any elements or spaces of the building or facility that are being altered and can be made accessible shall be made accessible..." But then, in the following paragraph, you withhold application of the same principles by people with chemical and electromagnetic field injuries / sensitivities.

    Page 62296: 202.3.1 and Page 62339: F202.3.1, Prohibited Reduction in Access
    The principle stated is that "an alteration that has the effect of decreasing the accessibility of a building or facility below the requirements for new construction is prohibited." Sounds good at first, except that new construction is rarely if ever accessible to people with significant impairment due to chemical air pollution.

    It is most particularly the older structures, or non-remodeled, non-fixed up, areas of a facility, where we have any chance whatsoever of accessing services, an exam by our doctor, a counseling appointment, a shower, a bed, or conducting any other business. In other words, a safe(r), older facility, once remodeled to the standards required for new construction, because nontoxic products and procedures are nowhere required or even suggested, has just become one more "up-to-ADAAG standards" facility that has been made inaccessible to us.

    Page 62296: 202.3.2 and Page 62339: F202.3.2, Extent of Application
    Here, the proposal specifically forbids imposition of a higher accessibility standard, in other words, one that could possibly include us, on alterations than is required for new construction. This destroys even the ILLUSION of rights we've been trying to LOOK like we have, in order to maintain a clinic or office room, for example, and a path of travel, in a plain, non-remodeled condition.

    No matter that there may be only one unsprayed, uncarpeted room, that's barely accessible, in a homeless shelter or hospital, for people with disabling sensitivities to chemicals in an entire city or state.

    The current proposed language says to buildings' owners and managers "Go ahead, remodel this one old-fashioned, aired-out room too; these people's access is not protected, they have no legal defense. Paint, spray insecticide, and install carpet and new particleboard cupboards all you like. These folks will be driven out, but don't worry, we are looking the other way and no one of consequence will notice a thing." The section on accessibility to Federal facilities parallels the first section, except that the stakes for us are higher.

The Access Board allowing continued barriers to Federal buildings like courts, housing authorities, post offices, and social services, is even more burdensome to us than is inaccessibility to grocery and department stores or other so-called "public" facilities. At least for commercial enterprises, sometimes we can arrange to receive services outdoors or through the mail, by imploring and paying extra, typically not effective options in dealing with federal entities.

Thank you for any assistance on these issues.


Susan R. Molloy, M.A.

Senator John McCain
Senator Jon Kyl
Congressman J.D. Hayworth



Note: July 2001--The images appearing in blue, below this black and white image,
have been revised. This current symbol was made available by the California Building
Standards Commission. The image supports the text on pages 90 and 91 of the
Monograph, available by PDF file (
Comment period ended July 23, 2001.

    Back to Susan Molloy's original attachment, which accompanied her letter of May 7, 2000.

    A proposal for voluntary "Cleaner-Air" signage, and a pictogram, that we suggest for voluntary designation of rooms and paths of travel voluntarily made and kept as accessible as is voluntarily possible, by voluntary participants. We propose that the Access Board recommend voluntary use of this sign and pictogram to designate facilities in which voluntary efforts to accommodate us have voluntarily been made.

    703.7.2.5 703.7.2.5 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 Air" 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 not 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.

    Sharon Toji

    Return to Access Info

    Return to Air

    Return to Posters

    EHN's homepage


Support EHN's FDA Petition. WRITE to the FDA today!

Comments? (Barb's email is no longer valid, please contact EHN). Please put WWW in subject line. Thanks.

Return to Index of Letters To Inform and Of Rebuttal

Please check back often as we are always adding valuable links to our pages of Links.

As with all organizations, EHN depends upon your contributions of time and energy,
as well as your membership support.

Top of page

Return to EHN's homepage (


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