How the Mask Can Hinder

Back before I had an ‘Access Plan’ (called a Disability Plan, in other countries perhaps? Oh wait, is it only Victoria University (VU) who’re up to speed on this?) created for me by VU In 2012, I began to get sicker; I thought that was as sick as I could get. I didn’t know that it can much worse than that. When I had to wear a mask to school, and found even that didn’t help with the fragrance in the class, I became frustrated and wrote this to my Disability Liaison Officer (DLO):

“If it’s [the classroom] not a fragrance chemical free, aromatic solvent (aerosol) free area, then it is only fair if the students or teachers tell me, so that I can leave and not get affected. It’s not the smell; it’s the chemicals in the products, specifically hydrocarbons, solvents and fragrances that affect me. It’s not fair that I have to wear a mask to protect myself from products that the other students are wearing, especially when the mask actually stops me from being able to tell if there are sprays in the air, therefore making it impossible to protect myself by taking avoidance action! The only way to tell is to remove the mask, breathe the air, and see if I can smell it, sometimes I can, but other times I can’t because ‘smell’ is something a person acclimatises to; however, once I get symptoms, then I can tell. (Wearing the mask is akin to putting my head in the sand as far as knowing what is in the room.)

Also the mask hinders me in that, when I move to the left of the right, open my mouth to speak, laugh, cough, or yawn, the products enter, and are held in that small airspace where I breathe them in. And I can taste them.

I would be better off just leaving if there are sprays in the room, rather than staying until I get sick. Ideally, the teacher could tell me so I have the choice. I appreciate it when someone warns me that it is there, because that saves me from having to breath it in to find out. (This year, 2012, many times I’ve come to class, keeping my mask tight to my face, so that I can stay as long as I can before getting sick—I know I will get sick and have to leave anyway as that has been the pattern this year—but on a few occasions there has been a high concentration of aromatic solvents in the room, which have made me extremely ill once I have left, removed my mask and gone home. I know they were actually in the room because the next day, the clothes that I wore reek of them. (I shower and wash my hair as soon as I get home but many times I haven’t been able to do this quick enough; and sometimes it’s impossible to leave my mask on until I can get home to shower because I need to remove it to drink, eat, and even more importantly, breathe fresh air once leaving the building, or on a break. If I do this, I get sick.

On these occasions, if I knew there were fragrances, deodorants in the room, I’d leave my mask on until I could get in the shower at home.)) In the true sense of being disabled, having this contradictive action: having to smell the air to find out if something is there, and then getting sick from breathing it in, is something I wish someone else could do for me.”


I didn’t get a Teacher’s Assistant to sniff the air for me to see if class was safe for me; however, I did get something better than that….


Next I’ll be blogging about how I got to be in a Fragrance Free classroom.

And parts of My Access Plan

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

The Toxic Classroom

In the article, The Toxic Classroom, by Dr Ann McCampbell, about how to create a healthy learning space, what makes a sick building and what people can do about it, there are some great tips for parents and teaching staff who are facing challenges presented by toxins and the way they effect those in the building. For not only can academic performance be impacted on, but also a child’s learning disability (or challenge, rather) can be increased too; but far more paramount to those are children’s (and adult’s) health issues! We, the people, need to advocate for our children. As Dr McCampbell has pointed out, we need to be proactive not only for our own kids but for all children; and when parents educate each other, they can then band together to help facilitate a healthier school environment. Once a school becomes aware that lowering the chemical load of the air space can save money, improve academic performance and increase the health of their students, how can they say no?

More, from The Toxic Classroom:

“As the public’s awareness of the link between chemical exposure and illness has grown, more and more parents have realized that schools, where children spend a sizeable portion of their days, may not be as safe as believed.

We turned to a leading expert on environmentally sick schools, Dr. Doris Rapp, author of Is This Your Child’s World? How You Can Fix the Schools and Homes that Are Making Your Children Sick, to learn more about what can be done to protect our children.”

Not all the tips in this article could be implemented by all schools, due to budget constraints; but it’s easy for them to do some of them, as has been shown in many schools around the globe, already. This article is also featured on Dr Ann McCampbell’s site, it was written in 2001, and published in Living Without magazine (a magazine for people with food and sensitivities). (As an aside, Dr McCampbell treats people who have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity; she is in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and her contact details can be found here.)

PS: Here is a school (Woodend Primary, in Victoria, Australia) that thought about these issues while building from the ground up. Fascinating!

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
Translate »