“Toxic” can now be added to the lengthy list of insulting adjectives hurled at politicians.

     A Canadian environmental group, Environmental Defence, recently tested the blood and urine of four Canadian politicians for 103 chemical pollutants, including some associated with cancer, developmental problems, respiratory illnesses, and nervous system damage.

     The tests found 61 of the pollutants; the most toxic politician had 55 of the pollutants, and the least toxic 49.  The chemicals came from such commonly-used items as non-stick cookware and fire retardants sprayed on chairs and couches, all ingredients of the toxic soup of synthetic chemicals we’re drowning in.

     There’s no reason to believe you’re less toxic than these politicians, especially if you live in a newer home or work in a newer office building or hospital or school.   And if chemicals don’t particularly bother you, there’s a good chance you know some victims.

     After a friend of mine installed new carpeting throughout her house in mid-winter, her young son became ill with a sore throat and violent headache and was unable to sleep.  The remedy was simple, if uncomfortable, given it was mid-winter: open all the windows and get rid of as much of the formaldehyde from the new carpet as possible.

     Another friend became violently ill after going in to a newly-renovated drug store.  The store obtained its bright, clean look – and smell – by the generous use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the most commonly-used plastic.  PVC is used in a wide range of consumer products and construction materials such as window frames, flooring, wallpaper, and window blinds; the air in the store must have been full of PVC vapor.

     Apart from a few plasticizers, PVC contains vinyl chloride, a chemical which depresses the central nervous system.  Inhaling its vapors produces symptoms similar to alcohol intoxication,  including headache, dizziness, and loss of coordination.  If my friend had worked in that store, breathing its toxic air for several hours, she could have hallucinated, lost consciousness, and perhaps even died from respiratory failure.

     PVC gives your new car its “new car smell”; sunlight accelerates the release of vinyl chloride into the air, so the chemical can kill pets and even young children in a parked car before the sun heats the interior of the car to a dangerous or even fatal temperature.

     Is it any wonder so many people are suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS),  often called “Environmental illness” or “sick building syndrome” because it’s common among workers in energy-efficient, tightly sealed buildings.  The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIH) calls it Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance (IEI), a “chronic, recurring disease caused by a person’s inability to tolerate an environmental chemical or class of foreign chemicals.”

     Diagnosing MCS is difficult because MCS symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and shortness of breath are also symptoms of many other illnesses.  Many physicians are also reluctant to make a diagnosis because one person’s reaction to an identical concentration of a chemical for the same time period can be so different from another person’s.

     The Chemical Sensitivity Foundation says the explanation for this difference is an enzyme deficiency in MCS victims.  The Foundation says a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas showed Gulf War veterans displaying an acute chemical sensitivity are deficient in one of the PON-Q enzymes, an enzyme that helps metabolize certain toxic chemicals.  A team at the University of Toronto in Canada later found a group of MCS patients lacked this enzyme.

     The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) already considers MCS to be a disability under the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

     But perhaps more government agencies and even conservative physicians will finally become concerned about the dangers of the toxic chemical soup which causes MCS if more politicians find their bodies are polluted with a wide range of toxic chemicals.

[Edited by Simon – Paragraph spacing]

 

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