Environmental
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EHN sincerely thanks Joan Ripple, Committee Consultant for the following information and the permission to post to our web site.


C A L I F O R N I A  L E G I S L A T U R E

SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON
THE RIGHTS OF THE DISABLED
SENATOR MILTON MARKS
CHAIRMAN

FINAL REPORT

ACCESS FOR PEOPLE WITH
ENVIRONMENTAL ILLNESS/ MULTIPLE CHEMICAL SENSITIVITY
AND OTHER RELATED CONDITIONS

SEPTEMBER 30, 1996


[Part 2]


SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS

Some of these suggested solutions are required under various rights to access laws; others were offered as ideal or best case scenarios by people who need the access. Most are readily achievable. Others require public policy changes.
1. Path of Travel

The ADA requires that paths of travel be accessible. Paths of travel include the parking area, sidewalk ramp, entrance to buildings, stairs, hallways, drinking fountain, telephone, restrooms and destination (key service areas e.g. counter, office etc.) within the facility. All of these must be safely accessible to people with EI/MCS or other at-risk conditions. These areas must be smoke, chemical and fragrance free to be accessible.

  • Forbid smoking in the following areas:
    • the interior of buildings
    • under open windows or air intake valves on the exterior of buildings
    • within "x" feet of the path of travel for entry into a building; "x" could be 10 to 20 feet.
    • on any public transit or in or nearby transit shelters or waiting areas.

  • "Mood enhancement" chemical fragrances are to be prohibited in public places, such as transportation terminals, ferries, trains, airlines and all other public areas, including any distribution through the heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems or devices which are wall-mounted, attached to toilets or sprayed by people into the ambient air.
2. Public Meetings

  • Accommodations need to be made to enable people with EI/MCS, allergies, asthma, other respiratory diseases, neurological disorders, post-polio syndrome, multiple sclerosis, etc. and other conditions to participate in the political process. Suggested accommodations, among which are safe building products, safe cleaning and maintenance products, fragrance- and smoke-free key staff.

  • Require that all meeting notices and agendas for any public meeting that is being held under the Brown Act including commissions, boards of supervisors, local municipalities, and state government offices include a request that attendees be fragrance free for the safety of people with sensitivity to chemical fragrances, dry cleaning chemicals, moth balls, etc.

  • Designate appropriate areas of meeting rooms to be reserved for people who are sensitive to chemicals and fragrances.

3. Building Standards

It is estimated that 20 percent of the population may suffer from the effects of indoor air pollution.

  • The Office of the State Architect should be responsible for developing regulations for essential State service buildings which will respond to the needs of people who have EI/MCS or other sensitivities. Building maintenance departments need to have available clear directions for maintaining state buildings safely.

  • Buildings and Grounds should have a task force to determine exactly what information Building and Grounds needs to know and have to operate safe, healthy buildings.

  • Products which require approval such as draperies that are installed in buildings which the fire marshal must approve should regulate what goes into those draperies. For example, they commonly contain chemicals or the residues of chemicals, arsenic, formaldehyde and so forth.

  • The Office of the State Architect and/or other relevant State departments must develop regulations or guidelines similar to the proposed policies for hazardous/toxic materials developed by the City of Santa Cruz: (Prepared by Emily Levy, Vice Chair, Santa Cruz California Accessibility Committee, Spring 1993):

    Hazardous and toxic materials - including those in general use that present barriers to access for some disabled individuals could be addressed according to the following steps:

      a. Eliminate hazardous and toxic materials when possible.

      b. Choose the least toxic products and methods of application available for each situation.

      c. Adequately ventilate areas where hazardous materials are used.

      d. Ensure that information on materials used is available to employees and the public.

      e. Provide signage indicating that the use of hazardous or toxic materials

        (1) is planned for the near future;

        (2) is underway;

        (3) has been completed recently


      f. Provide alternative access to services for those persons for whom the materials remain barriers.

  • The California Energy Commission to review its energy saving regulations which impact indoor air quality e.g. operable windows for fresh air exchange.

    Optimal air quality for productive, happy people who are enjoying their work and living a large portion of their lives in a building; their safety must be considered. The focus of power in buildings need to consider a change for public health and optimal air quality.

    The Commission should consider more pointed questions, such as decreased work efficiency, inability to concentrate, lost work days, lost work hours increased health care costs and the significant economic impact in a building where there is this kind of epidemic occurring because of the compromise made in air quality in the interest of saving energy.

  • Relevant State departments must identify main point sources (copy machines, applications of pesticides, no pest strips, building materials, maintenance and rehabilitation materials, carpets, glues et al) and have the CAL EPA look into them and identify substitutes where possible and appropriate.

  • Develop regulations to provide for periodic review of public and private building use. With budget changes and changing priorities, comes a change of use in the buildings from its original purpose at time of construction.. A building open to the public, used by elderly and children and sensitive people, may have a chemical laboratory installed on the third or fourth floor or reproduction services located in the basement, or the building gets repartitioned in some way that actually affects the flow of the air through the building. Is this a multipurpose building? If so, how are we going to isolate or vent those areas from the rest of the building if there is a change.

  • Develop and issue a safe building materials list for any facilities that the State intends to lease for administrative or public contact buildings.

  • The Office of the State Architect should incorporate into code for California Title 24 different types of standards so that the people of California will be protected and so that the people with EI/MCS will not continue to be held out of meetings or be subject to toxic building materials. These regulations should include but not be limited to where air intake and exhaust valves are placed to ensure that bad air is not re-circulated.

  • Develop regulations for signage which provide for warnings of fresh paint, new carpeting, remodeling in a building etc. and labeling of products. Example: WARNING: This product may give off urea or formaldehyde fumes.

  • Standards should be established or enforced if they already exist for maintenance and operation of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Ensure that the HVAC systems are operated according to the ASHRAE standards (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, Air Conditioning Engineers). They recommend a standard of 20 cubic feet per minute of outdoor air per person.

  • Develop lists of the least toxic substances for building maintenance. For example, is paradichlorobenzene the least toxic substance to deodorize bathrooms?

  • Develop guidelines for other things that can be done like keeping copy machines, laser printers, blueprint machines or other office equipment in a separate room with local exhaust ventilation.

  • Provide input to ASHRAE regarding its standards.

4. CAL OSHA

  • Create and enforce realistic OSHA standards.

  • Fund OSHA so inspectors have adequate funding, staff and enforcement authority.

5. Workplace

  • Material Safety Data Sheets must be available to employees, maintenance workers and others who work with or are exposed to chemicals or toxins in the Workplace.

  • A committee of building occupants should share the responsibility and oversight for the air quality with the building owner or manager.

  • Building owners and managers and social service providers are responsible for providing alternative, safe access; it is not the responsibility of people who are disabled by EI/MCS.

6. Research

  • Promote research to re-examine "Safe" standard levels of chemicals in various forms. Established levels are based on healthy adults and are not safe for people with EI/MCS or other sensitivities, those prone to developing EI/MCS, children or those with compromised immune systems or other toxin-induced or exacerbated disorders.

  • Promote research to acknowledge and plan for synergistic and cumulative effects of chemicals, especially those thought to be safe at low levels.

  • Perform surveys to assess EI/MCS and multiple-disabled populations; people with multiple disabilities may not be reflected in census figures, as people with EI/MCS are not reflected.

  • The appropriate departments of the State of California should apply to the federal EPA for funds to establish research programs, provide financial and technical assistance to state, local governments and public agencies in areas including but not limited to indoor air pollutants which pose serious threats to public health, including cancer, respiratory illness, multiple chemical sensitivity, skin and eye irritation. It is estimated that about 20 percent of the workers may be exposed to conditions manifested as the sick building syndrome.

  • The Department of Health Services needs to develop a working case definition so that people that do come down with EI/MCS can get diagnosis and treatment.

7. Public Service Warnings

  • Mark or give warnings of rooms or buildings in which pesticides have been applied. Notices must include the type of pesticide, date and time of spraying or application.

  • Information regarding pesticides, cleaning products, or other maintenance chemicals used therein, and dates of use must be readily available and accessible to persons entering a facility.

8. Material Safety Data Sheets

  • must be provided in a timely manner

  • must be current and accurate

    Note: Material Safety Data Sheets list only "active" ingredients, not "inert" ingredients which may be as harmful or more harmful and can make up a greater volume of the product.

9. Institutional settings

  • Safe alternative areas must be provided for provision of services, appointments, surgery etc. either within the facility or nearby. Preferably these should be located on the ground floor area near the entrance, and/or outdoors in a "Sears steel shed". The setting must provide for confidentiality, wheelchair access, be equipped with an interactive two-way radio or phone to the inside reception and/or security areas. A tamper-proof method of document delivery, like the vacuum chutes used in old fashioned stores should be provided.

  • Building owners and managers and social service providers are responsible for providing alternative, safe access; it is not the responsibility of people who are disabled by EI/MCS.

  • Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and convalescent hospitals must be available and accessible to people with EI/MCS or other sensitivities when such a referral is appropriate.

  • Food providers for institutions (hospitals, schools, convalescent hospitals, clinics, day care centers, senior centers, etc.) must be made aware of and meet the needs of people with EI/MCS for organic food, food rotation, additive free foods or other dietary considerations.

  • People with EI/MCS and food allergies must be provided with information about ingredients and modes of preparation of their food, especially in institutional situations when an individual╝s control or choices or diet are severely curtailed.

  • Stop mandatory payments by people with EI/MCS for inaccessible services, such as food which is intolerable in senior etc.

10. Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems

  • Information must be readily available about the HVAC system including rates of fresh air intake and availability to various areas of the facility, changing of filters, types of fungicides used in cooler or air conditioner maintenance and dates of maintenance.

  • Information must be readily available regarding type of heat used within a building, e.g. gas, and date of last check by the power company for leaks, exhaust maintenance, etc.

  • Enforce General Industry Safety Order 5142 which requires that HVAC systems must be turned up to the speed/volume required at the time of permit issuance.

  • Maintenance logs which track by date HVAC, cleaning, pest control, chemical usage and other repairs must be available for inspection or by phone to the public.

  • Almost all of the HVAC standards address comfort and odors. They were developed by engineers and basically do not address what we know now to be real health issues. These need to be reviewed to protect against an airborne organisms, like tuberculosis, Legionnaires Disease or certainly against a number of sources of toxic chemicals.

11. Education

  • Educate all public employees about the access requirements of people with EI/MCS or other sensitivities.

  • A public education campaign is needed concerning preservation of air quality.

  • Educate the public and professionals that EI/MCS is a legally acknowledged disability.

  • Mount a public education campaign about the seriousness of food allergy especially in children.

  • Mount a public education programs related to consumer choices for safer products for household and commercial uses.

  • Educate maintenance workers regarding toxicity of products with which they work, for their health and that of other people and especially those with EI/MCS.

  • Work with and educate transportation unions, Teamsters and others, regarding safety issues.

  • All programs which train professional personnel (physicians, nurses, pharmacists, allied health professionals, teachers, et al) must include a module on disabilities with sections on EI/MCS.

  • Educate emergency response personnel, fire departments, the police, ambulance crews and emergency room personnel about the special needs and access requirements of people with EI/MCS.
    Requirements will include such issues as the relative dangers of germs versus disinfectants, oxygen use, reactions to common medications and therapies, the possibility that an injured or ill person with EI/MCS will be unable to withstand exposures to idling rescue vehicles, smoke from fires, dust, blinking or flashing lights, electromagnetic fields from underground or overhead power lines or from generators, aftershave, chewing gum, etc.

  • School nurses, infirmary staff and special education teachers must be given information and training about EI/MCS. Training will include how to provide access and accommodation needs for the person with EI/MCS and coping strategies for the students.

  • Education training modules on disabilities must include sections on EI/MCS as part of school curriculum for children.

12. Portable Buildings

  • Effective January 1, 1987, the state's Education Code Section 17749 requires that 30 percent of all new classroom space in California be portable buildings.

  • Since portable buildings easily can be retrofitted with ramps, they frequently are used as classrooms for children with disabilities. These children, due to prior surgery, illness or medication history may be at increased risk from the particle board which emits formaldehyde. Portable buildings frequently are used for hospitals and clinics and Disabled Students Services Offices on college campuses. These, too, serve people who are vulnerable to exposures. Government-issue portable buildings often are used to house native Americans on reservations and people housed by FEMA after natural disasters. These, too, must meet health and safety standards.

  • Mandate the Office of the State Architect to develop safe standards for portable buildings for manufacture using non-toxic or less toxic products.

  • Require that all portable buildings used for classrooms, clinics et al have a ventilation package installed.

13. Social Change in Cleaning Methods

  • Promote through advertising and other forms of education appropriate non-chemical or non-toxic cleaning methods where viricides or bactericides are not required. Care must be taken in using alternative cleaning products recommended in guidebooks as many of the recommendations originally were written for preservation of the environment and may not be safe for chemically sensitive people.

14. Pesticides

  • The state must convert to non-pesticide Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques. The federal government already has done so. Seven thousand 7,000 federal office buildings were to change to IPM by the end of 1994. Chemicals are to be used only as a last resort.

  • Pesticide fogging of buses must be properly noticed for the warning and protection of riders.

  • Certain airline routes (Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, and others) bring the carrier and passengers into contact with the potential for insect infestation. The carriers, and in some circumstances, the passengers are fogged with pesticides.

    People must be told at the time of ticket purchase and on embarking that they will receive a pesticide treatment, the name of the product, whom to contact in case of symptoms, whom to bill for any damage to health or contaminated belongs.

15 Paratransit

  • People with EI/MCS are to be eligible for paratransit. Paratransit shall be accessible to them if they are substantially impaired.

  • Paratransit vehicles shall be maintained and operated using a protocol conducive to EI/MCS access (no smoking, no pesticides, no fragrance, no idling of motors, no chemical cleaners) for people with EI/MCS or otherwise at risk. Drivers of paratransit vehicles and other passengers shall adhere to these protocols in their personal grooming.

16. Personnel

  • Metal detector operators and security and direct service personnel in buildings, airline and other transportation terminals etc., who come into close contact with clients or travelers with EI/MCS must be smoke- and scent-free and wear clothing which has not been exposed to smoke, personal care products and other scents.

17. Other Access

  • Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), ethanol and other gasoline additives make it imperative that people with EI/MCS or others who are at risk who drive have the option of assistance at the gas pumps and be eligible for paratransit for those months during the year in which MTBE and ethanol are in use.

  • CALTRANS and AMTRAK must be accessible to people with EI/MCS through selection of safe products and maintenance procedures and use of personal products by personnel with public contact.

18 Airlines

  • Toughen standards for permissible leakage of airliner fuel fumes into the passenger compartment.

  • Terminals, lobbies, ticket and baggage areas, boarding areas, and security check areas must be safely accessible to people with EI/MCS and/or alternate fresh air accommodations must be readily available.

  • Less fresh air/oxygen is available on airplanes because the increased airflow costs more in fuel; standards for inflight fresh air need to be increased.

    Nevertheless, passengers with EI/MCS or other health problems are penalized and must pay an additional $100 per leg of their journey to have oxygen on board. In addition, they bear the expense of appointments with doctors to make the arrangements for the oxygen and, sometimes, fare for an attendant as well. This is an additional hardship for the air passenger with EI/MCS, who is likely to be traveling due to family responsibilities, to an appointment with a doctor, or to a court appointment, not for pleasure.

    This additional expense should be absorbed by the airline, or the airline should improve its fresh air mix for the health of all passengers.

19. Alternative settings/services

  • Create alternative settings, including the possibility of home settings, for prison sentences, work, medical therapy, etc.

  • Medical testing for workers compensation and social security disability should be coordinated so the person with EI/MCS doesn't have to serve as his or her own social worker and case manager (a good example of a successful program is the AIDS project in Los Angeles).

  • For some appointments, it may be possible to use videos or closed-circuit TV as in classrooms and laboratory situations.

  • Safe areas must be provided for check-ups, examinations, lab work, surgery and waiting rooms in hospitals, clinics and universities.

  • Family members who have EI/MCS must be able to attend school, medical and other functions with non-EI/MCS children, partners, etc.

  • Disabled Students Programs at colleges and universities all will be notified of their responsibilities to ensure safe access to students with EI/MCS. This also pertains to vocational schools.

  • Create alternative forms of service or alternative sites for accessible delivery of services.

  • Permit, train and encourage public employees to provide home visits for people with EI/MCS who require or desire home visits and to provide home visits in a safely accessible manner (home staff shall be free of smoke residue and scents from personal care products).

  • Educate social services employees about the existence and needs of people with EI/MCS who are homebound and cannot, or do not, leave their homes.

  • Workers with public contact i.e. social workers and visiting nurses must be smoke and scent free.

  • The California State Senate and Assembly floor and committee sessions must be scent free.

  • People with multiple-disabilities and compromised immune systems (including people with lupus, multiple sclerosis, post-polio syndrome, cancer, AIDS, CFIDS and others) are susceptible to chemical exposures and developing EI/MCS and need similar protections.

  • Ensure that rehabilitation workers, at least one per office, be knowledgeable about EI/MCS and are scent and smoke free.

  • Provide for the access needs of children with EI/MCS in all programs which serve them.

  • Provide assistance for children with EI/MCS whose parents do not understand their disability or are unable or unwilling to provide them with an accessible, supportive environment.

  • Food providers for institutions (hospitals, schools, convalescent hospitals, clinics, day care centers, senior centers, etc.) must be made aware of and meet the needs of people with EI/MCS for organic food, food rotation, additive-free foods or other dietary considerations.

  • People with EI/MCS and food allergies must be provided with information about ingredients and modes of preparation of their food, especially in institutional situations when an individual╝s control or choices or diet are severely curtailed.

  • Do not require mandatory payments by people with EI/MCS for inaccessible services, such as food which is intolerable in senior housing, etc.

20. Health Care Access

  • The Department of Health Services╝ Medi-Cal managed care plan and other managed care programs must provide access to health care services for people with multiple chemical sensitivities. Thus, the managed care plan must be prepared to serve this client or refer them out to a knowledgeable practitioner.

  • Prepaid health plans (HMOs) and other types of managed care health plans must be required to have specialists on their physician panels who are able to diagnose EI/MCS or be ready, willing and able to refer out to those who can. Generally speaking, these plans are not equipped to diagnose EI/MCS, either because of predisposition or lack of broad enough panel of physician specialists. The long-term costs are less expensive than the short term gain.

  • People with EI/MCS have the right to medical care appropriate to their needs, such as vitamins, gamma globulin, detoxification saunas, I.V. minerals, medical oxygen, acupuncture, chiropractic etc. paid for by their health plan or Medi-Cal/Medicare. Therapies which may be investigational for this illness, such as Betaseron, must be covered in order to prevent further deterioration.

  • No penalty may be imposed on a patient if a delay in reimbursement is the fault of an insurance company or health plan.

  • Health care providers or staff of health care facilities including technicians and clerical support who are likely to come into contact with the public or spaces to be occupied by people with EI/MCS should not be permitted to smoke or wear personal care products which contain fragrances. Or, in lieu of such practices, create safe areas and personnel at all stages of the process.

  • Health care facilities must have safely accessible restrooms.

21. Facility Maintenance

  • Educational facilities and programs must keep and make available maintenance logs and schedules (pesticides, HVAC, etc.). This applies to private colleges and training schools as well as public ones. All must list accessibility to students with EI/MCS in catalogs.

22. Emergencies, natural and other disasters

  • Law enforcement and emergency response personnel must look for Medic-Alert or similar necklaces, bracelets or wallet cards which notify of EI/MCS or other medical conditions.

  • Emergency warnings must be accessible to people with EI/MCS, including any with multiple disabilities. For example, people who are deaf and have EI/MCS must be able to see closed-caption announcements on TV about toxic spills or fires; people who use wheelchairs and have EI/MCS must be able to use shelters and emergency evacuation vehicles; people who are blind who have EI/MCS need Braille notices at building entrances stating dates of pesticide applications etc.

  • There is to be no smoking in any emergency shelters or transportation areas.

  • Emergency shelters should be as chemically free as possible; emergency personnel should be fragrance free.

  • Establish safe areas of refuge for temporary or permanent housing for people with EI/MCS who must evacuate due to medfly or other pest eradication applications.

23. Social Action

  • Subsidize organic farming, and purchase for use by institutions of organic produce and other foods (hospitals, schools etc.).

  • Subsidize training of organic farmers through the schools and universities.

  • End subsidies for industries which produce toxins, such as the tobacco industry.

  • Develop labeling requirements which include inert ingredients and appropriate warnings.

  • Housing must be safe, especially if it is publicly funded, for situations including emergency shelters following disasters, school and university dormitories, prisons, battered women and homeless shelters, hostels and residence hotels.

  • Private housing on public land, e.g. the Fillmore Center in San Francisco, must be safe for people with EI/MCS or other conditions.

  • Emergency/temporary housing (subsidized to be affordable) for both private and general emergencies must be developed.

  • Review the policy of providing government issued and subsidized portable housing to native Americans.

  • Support and/or subsidize use of safe products in housing, both in construction and in maintenance.

  • Design incentive programs to create more EI/MCS safe housing.

  • Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) for developments must include information necessary for the safety of people with EI/MCS, allergies, asthma, respiratory conditions, immunological and neurological problems. (This includes EIRs for housing as well as commercial and public buildings, schools etc.).

24. Other

  • Provide warnings of unexpected chemical agents used in public programs such as special effects in theatrical performances where special effects use chemicals to simulate fog, smoke, et al.

25. Regulation of Consumer Products

  • Remove all neurotoxic chemicals from personal care, household cleaning and maintenance products.

  • Remove chemical ingredients which are listed on the EPA's "Hazardous Waste List" from consumer products.

  • Ban chemicals known to irritate the respiratory system, or carcinogens (for example, protease, an enzyme-destroying protein) from perfumes and other products.

  • Prohibit any ingredient in a fragrance, cosmetic or household chemical which negatively impacts the endocrine, immune or nervous systems.

  • Abolish the concept of "inert" ingredients and require the listing of all ingredients on packaging.

  • Ban fragrance emission devices and systems ("FEDS") from restrooms, hotels, stores, supermarkets etc.

  • Prohibit the distribution of chemical fragrances through the HVAC systems of buildings.

  • Require manufacturers to label toxic products in such a way that consumers can clearly find, understand and protect themselves in accordance with the instructions.

  • Manufacturers should take advantage of the market opportunity to develop and merchandise products which are fragrance free and as non-toxic as possible for the purposes for which the product is intended.

  • If a manufactured product uses masking chemicals to eliminate unpleasant odors, they must be listed on the labels.

  • Manufacturers of personal care products should develop product lines using safer or less toxic chemicals.

26. Building Owners and Managers

  • Building owners and managers must be informed about the access and safety requirements of tenants and occupants with EI/MCS or other sensitivities so safe maintenance and repair products can be used.

  • Building owners and managers are responsible for providing alternative, safe access; it is not the responsibility of people who are disabled by EI/MCS.

  • Safe or less objectionable carpets are often maintained with safe non-toxic products to prevent them from becoming sinks for carpet cleaning chemicals and pesticides.

  • Post notices in or around housing complexes or developments and notify tenants regarding use of pesticides, herbicides, cleaning, maintenance chemicals, laundry exhausts etc., painting, floor stripping, carpet cleaning, so people with EI/MCS or other conditions can avoid that area.

  • Create and maintain safe and accessible laundry facilities with adequate ventilation.

  • Animals can be barriers to safe housing because of their fur and/or dander or to the pesticides used for their care. This includes animals brought in by visitors. Some buildings must be animal free.

  • Occupants with EI/MCS must be notified of pesticide use, painting or maintenance chemical use, repairs, tarring or paving, street repairs, crop dusting, etc. in adequate time to plan an evacuation to safe quarters for the duration of danger.

  • Housing ads which say "Accessible" must include information about EI/MCS access.

27. Miscellaneous

  • Retain and strengthen the regulatory agencies. Educate agency personnel about EI/MCS, its treatments and the effects of chemicals from various sources on people with allergies, asthma, respiratory problems, immunological or neurological conditions..

  • Provide more funds for research through the University of California and other systems; get no strings funds for research from chemical companies.

  • Make senior discount passes and rates available to people of all ages who have disabilities.

  • Environmental medicine-oriented doctors should apply for NIH grants for research, clinical trials etc.

  • Create enforceable policies.

  • Access for people with EI/MCS will generate markets for new and safer products.

  • Integrate the processes of evaluation and documentation for Workers Compensation, state and federal disability, so tests and doctors letters don't have to be duplicated at the patient's expense. A single payer health system might alleviate this problem.

  • Coordinate state and federal disability benefits to eliminate the gap.

  • Recognize EI/MCS as a disabling condition.

  • People with EI/MCS must have judicial recourse when medical professionals provide incomplete medical reports which are used to make major life decisions about the patient.

  • State agencies and departments should develop lending libraries of accessibility aids such as air filters, respirators, oxygen tanks, shields for electromagnetic fields, vacuum reading boxes, etc.

  • Develop and adopt accommodations necessary to enable people with EI/MCS to be employed.

    For example, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission (HRC) issued a draft proposal for access for people with disabilities to employment by contractors with the City and County. EI/MCS is listed as an impairment which would qualify for protection. HRC's description of architectural barriers includes inadequate ventilation systems, new carpeting, and fragrance emission devices.

    Reasonable accommodations to help people with EI/MCS get and keep jobs are listed as: operable windows, scent and smoke free work space, daylight or incandescent light rather than fluorescent light, removal of carpet, use of non-toxic cleaning and maintenance products, carbon paper instead of NCR forms and errand runners (SF Human Rights Commission Rules and Regulations, December 6, 1991 Draft).

  • People disabled by EI/MCS who, because of many years of illness, do not have a substantial paid work history must be eligible for full benefits. For example, people who worked in the home as mothers, or had other low paying or "off the record" employment, do not qualify for Social Security or full disability pensions but only for SSI.

  • Expertise in having and surviving EI/MCS must be acknowledged as qualification for certain paid consulting or other positions.

  • State disability payment amounts are based on one-fourth of employment so low paying jobs result in extremely low benefits regardless of recipient's need for more money with which to pay for doctors, tests and other basic necessities.

  • Identify occupations with high risk for developing EI/MCS; identify and require the use of protective equipment, devices and precautions to be taken in such positions.

    For example, people in certain occupations are at high risk for chemical exposures which could result in EI/MCS; they should be warned of early symptoms. These occupations include farm workers, field hands, workers in the microelectronics industry who get high solvent exposures, industrial or commercial cleaning and maintenance company employees, night watch persons who are on duty during cleaning, sales people working in furniture and carpet showrooms, pesticide applicators, cosmetic sales people especially in perfume departments, beauticians and people who do nails, bartenders and waiters and waitresses in bars and restaurants etc.

  • The Department of Health Services' Hazard Evaluation System and Information Service (HESIS), despite the State's budget constraints, must accurately inform callers about EI/MCS. Poison Control Centers must dispense only accurate information about EI/MCS.

  • Education of workers about EI/MCS should be part of SB 198 employee injury prevention program which affects all employees or be part of a health safety plan.

28. Department of Health Services

  • Provide training for Department of Health Services, Poison Control and any other staff who give out information about poisons or toxic products to the public.

  • The Department of Health Services must live up to its mandate in several areas including indoor air quality, pesticide safety et al. For example, in ten years only 18 products have been targeted as having major health effects (e.g. arsenic, mercury, lead).

29. Federal Resolutions

  • Urge the California legislators and the Congress to amend the Fair Housing Amendment Act, Section 504 and the ADA to recognize EI/MCS as a disability under the these three statutes.

  • Urge the California delegation and the Congress to update any laws or regulations governing chemicals, chemicals in commercial products and related manufactured and natural products in light of current state of the art science, especially any laws or regulations written before 1985. A product may be able to meet FDA and EPA criteria because the applicable laws or regulations are outdated.


876-S

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