L'Association pour la santé environnementale du Québec / Environmental Health Association of Québec

How to Best Manage Environmental Sensitivities (ES)

How to best manage ES – First steps


The most important step towards wellness is avoidance of those factors that made you ill and/or that trigger symptoms. You must drink clean water, eat organic food you can tolerate, and breathe clean air. It is equally important to live and work in a healthy environment, by eliminating toxic chemicals used for cleaning, personal care or renovations, electric and electromagnetic fields, and mould. It is also necessary to adopt ecological strategies and solutions for insect and pest control on lawns, gardens, inside homes and buildings.

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Science has shown that, because of genetic differences, some people are less able than others to metabolize all the substances we are exposed to in our environment. They are more susceptible to adverse effects from harmful exposures they encounter in air, food, water, consumer products and the built environment. The sooner a patient is diagnosed by a physician certified in environmental medicine, the better the health outcome. If a patient has to wait a long time to be treated, it will be more difficult to recover. Nonetheless, there are some things that patients can do on their own to help with their recovery.

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Accommodation of environmental sensitivities


One of the most devastating consequences of environmental sensitivities is the sudden loss of quality of life due to the individual’s inability to tolerate chemicals and other exposures. Providing timely accommodation is important as it allows for retention of employment, income, housing, and a social life.

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Clothing – What to do with new clothing and fabrics?


The EPA, under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, considers many textile manufacturing facilities to be hazardous waste generators. This is because most synthetic fibers, such as polyester, are manufactured from petroleum and result in pollution which can cause or aggravate respiratory disease. One of the most popular clothing fibers, cotton, is heavily dependent on pesticides. Many toxic chemicals, including dyes, are used in all stages of manufacturing. These can include flame retardants, odour absorbing finishes, stain and wrinkle resistant chemicals, and finishings to hold the dye to the cloth, etc.

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Things You Can Do Despite Your Disability


Gradually or suddenly life has changed. Nothing is the same. Things that you took for granted, such as a walk in the park, dinner with friends, shopping, an evening at the movies or the theatre or even singing in the local choir, may have become a thing of the past. It may be difficult to attend family or school events such as graduations. You may have lost your job. Your family or your friends may have disappeared. You must wonder how you can have a life in the midst of this crisis. And is it even possible?

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Finding Healthy Spaces


Finding a healthy free-standing home can be daunting and cost prohibitive. Even more challenges are faced when trying to rent an apartment or flat. Landlords can renovate whenever they please, without giving notice. Keeping products used by neighbours at bay can be overwhelming. Common areas in apartment buildings are often dirty, carpeted or cleaned with harsh chemicals. However, asking the right questions and knowing what to look for can help immensely.

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About Mould


Mould has always been with us; it can be found just about everywhere. Basically, where there is life, there is mould. Problems arise when concentrations of mould grow in contained spaces, such as our homes, or when we live in very humid areas. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) estimates that more than 60+% of finished basements have mould in their drywall. They also found that about 40% of the mould in these basements is toxic, which means if you have a finished basement, your chances of having unhealthy mould in your house are greater than 25%.

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Lyme Disease

lyme bacteria

People love to walk in nature. It fills our senses; it calms and heals our bodies and our minds. This is especially true for people who suffer from environmental sensitivities, who are always looking for secluded areas in which to walk, so that they can avoid scents, bug sprays, traffic exhaust, etc. While it is very important to go out into nature, it is essential to take certain precautions in order to avoid being bitten by a tick that carries Lyme disease.

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Bug-Free Naturally


Using pesticides of any kind to kill off insects, such as sow-bugs, millipedes, silverfish or carpenter ants that have invaded your living space is much like using perfume to remedy a garbage spill. It may show immediate results but it is by no means a permanent fix. The reason is that unwanted pests in your home are usually a sign of structural deficiencies and until these deficiencies are addressed, the pest problem will keep coming back!

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