Article of Interest: Woman with Chemical Sensitivities Chose Medically-Assisted Death after Failed Bid for Smoke-Free Housing
Our team at the Hoffman Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT) Program at UT Health San Antonio wanted to share this important external article:
A 51-year-old Ontario woman with severe sensitivities to chemicals died by medically-assisted suicide after her desperate search for affordable housing free of cigarette smoke and chemical cleaners failed, advocates say.
The woman’s assisted death appears to be a first in the world for someone diagnosed with multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS), a chronic condition also referred to as an environmental illness or environmental allergies, say patient support groups and doctors familiar with her case.
Solutions involve cleaning up environments to prevent new cases, and making homes and apartments smoke and chemical free, according to Dr. Claudia Miller, allergist/immunologist, professor emeritus, and leader of the Hoffman TILT Program at UT Health San Antonio.
“It’s a sad statement. …people are so desperate they do want to die,” Miller told CTV News in an interview for the article . “I think that’s completely an indication of a huge failure…a societal failure.”
How Can You Help Promote Smoke-Free Multifamily Housing?
People who live in multifamily housing share air with their neighbors ─ including secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke contains over 70 cancer-causing chemicals, and has killed over 2.5 million people. The dangers are especially serious in multifamily housing, where secondhand smoke can travel through doorways, halls, windows, ventilation systems, electrical outlets, and gaps around fixtures.
Download the Action Pack “Help Your City Adopt Smoke-Free Multifamily Housing,” from the team at Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio, a partner of the Hoffman TILT Program.
The action pack will help you engage local leaders in exploring a smoke-free multifamily housing policy for common areas and individual units.
“Experts say a smoke-free multifamily housing policy can protect the health of tenants and staff of apartments from secondhand smoke, as well as save property owners money in unit maintenance, fire prevention, insurance, and reduced legal liability,” said Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, action pack creator and director of the Salud America! program.
How chemically sensitive are you?
Answer these three questions from the Brief Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (BREESI):
- Do you feel sick when you are exposed to tobacco smoke, certain fragrances, nail polish/remover, engine exhaust, gasoline, air fresheners, pesticides, paint/thinner, fresh tar/asphalt, cleaning supplies, new carpet or furnishings? By sick, we mean: headache, difficulty thinking, difficulty breathing, weakness, dizziness, upset stomach, etc.
- Are you unable to tolerate or do you have adverse or allergic reactions to any drugs or medications (such as antibiotics, anesthetics, pain relievers, X-ray contrast dye, vaccines or birth control pills), or to an implant, prosthesis, contraceptive chemical or device, or other medical/surgical/dental material or procedure?
- Are you unable to tolerate or do you have adverse reactions to any foods such as dairy products, wheat, corn, eggs, caffeine, alcoholic beverages, or food additives (e.g., MSG, food dye)?
If you answer YES to any of these three questions, take the Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (QEESI) and share the results with your doctor!