In writing about healthy homes I’ve run into this question in a number of places.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MSC) is one issue, sensitivity to electromagnetic fields (EMF) is another.
I’d never heard of MSC until I was asked to inspect a straw bale home about a year ago. Not knowing anything about them, I contacted local straw bale builders in an effort to find out how to inspect them and what the common potential problems were.
The client (Jill) told me she’d lived down the street from the twin towers when they fell on 9/11 and that during the following year or so she’d developed bad reactions to many chemicals which were so severe that she sometimes had to live outside until she could find a home her body would tolerate. When you start researching MCS this turns out to be not uncommon.
In pursuing this healthy homes writing project I’ve run into two others who suffer from MSC. One woman (Anchorage) has been pretty much confined to her home for 14 years, the other woman (Colorado) took a year to recover after a large exposure to chlorine. Her early symptoms were life-threatening.
In looking for a home, Jill said that on several occasions she was denied entry to the home after telling the sellers that she suffered from MCS. They didn’t want to become involved in a transaction with her because they were afraid it would fall through. Their fears are not unfounded, this has happened here in Boulder.
The fair housing act? There is confusion over whether MCS is a disability or an impairment, so at this point there is no precedent and no legal protection for those suffering from MCS. Many federal organizatons are gearing up to deal with MCS but at this point, since there are few conclusive studies, actually few studies, little has actually been done.
I have never met anyone who suffers bad reactions from exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF), although the websites offering information on MCS also discuss EMF as though it is equally serious.
As the US population grows and more problems related to various environmental hazards appear, inspectors will find themselves coming into contact with these problems with increasing frequency.