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The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has cleared the recreation facilities guidelines and they will be published in the Federal Register on September 3, 2002. OMB has made several changes to the preamble, including the discussion of chemical and electromagnetic sensitivities. I have pasted below copies of the preamble discussion as revised by OMB. OMB deleted the discussion about the surveys.

Preamble as revised by OMB.

Individuals with multiple chemical sensitivities and electromagnetic sensitivities submitted a substantial number of written comments and attended the public information meetings on the draft final rule. They reported that chemicals used in recreation facilities, such as chlorine used in swimming pools and spas, and pesticides and synthetic fertilizers used on golf courses, are barriers that deny them access to those facilities. They requested the Board to include provisions in the final rule to make recreation facilities accessible for them.

The Board recognizes that multiple chemical sensitivities and electromagnetic sensitivities may be considered disabilities under the ADA if they so severely impair the neurological, respiratory or other functions of an individual that it substantially limits one or more of the individual's major life activities. The Board plans to closely examine the needs of this population, and undertake activities that address accessibility issues for these individuals.

The Board plans to develop technical assistance materials on best practices for accommodating individuals with multiple chemical sensitivities and electromagnetic sensitivities. The Board also plans to sponsor a project on indoor environmental quality. In this project, the Board will bring together building owners, architects, building product manufacturers, model code and standard-setting organizations, individuals with multiple chemical sensitivities and electromagnetic sensitivities, and other individuals. This group will examine building design and construction issues that affect the indoor environment, and develop an action plan that can be used to reduce the level of chemicals and electromagnetic fields in the built environment.

Neither the proposed rule nor the draft final rule included provisions for multiple chemical sensitivities or electromagnetic sensitivities. The Board believes these issues require a thorough examination and public review before they are addressed through rulemaking. The Board does not address these issues in the final rule.

Original Version Prepared by Board:

Individuals with multiple chemical sensitivities and electromagnetic sensitivities submitted written comments and attended the public informatrion meetings on the draft final rule. They reported that chemicals used in recreation facilities, such as chlorine used in swimming pools and spas and pesticides and synthetic fertilizers used on golf courses, are barriers that deny them access to those facilities. They requested the Board to include provisions in this final rule to make recreation facilities accessible for them.

Under the Administrative Procedure Act, the Board must give the public notice and opportunity to comment on provisions in a proposed rule before it can adopt them as a final rule. Because the proposed rule did not include any of the provisions requested by individuals with multiple chemical sensitivities and electromagnetic sensitivities, the Board cannot adopt those provisions in this final rule.

The prevalence of multiple chemical sensitivities and electromagnetic sensitivities has been the subject of several studies. Surveys conducted by the California and New Mexico departments of health and by medical researchers in North Carolina found that 16 percent to 33 percent of the people interviewed reported that they are unusually sensitive to chemicals. [C. Miller & N. Ashford, "Multiple Chemical Intolerance and Indoor Air Quality," in "Indoor Air Quality Handbook" 27.8 (Mc Graw-Hill 2001).] In the North Carolina study, 4.1% of the respondents reported having daily or almost daily symptoms [William Meggs, et al., "Prevalence and Nature of Allergy and Chemical Sensitivity in a General Population", Arch Environ Health, 1996; 51:275-82] and in the California survey, 4% of the respondents reported that they were sensitive to "a lot of chemicals." [Richard Kreutzer et al., "Prevalence of People Reporting Sensitivities to Chemicals in a Population-Based Survey, " American Journal of Epidemiology 150, no. 1 (July 1, 1999).] In addition, the New Mexico health department survey found that 2 percent of the respondents reported that they had been diagnosed with multiple chemical sensitivity [Ron Voorhees, Results of analyses of multiple chemical sensitivity questions, 1997 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, New Mexico Department of Health, February 8, 1999] and the California survey found that 6 percent of the respondents reported they had been diagnosed with environmental illness or multiple chemical sensitivity. Another California department of health survey found that 3 percent of the people interviewed reported that they are unusually sensitive to electric appliances or power lines. [P. Levallois, et al., "Prevalence and Risk Factors of Self-Reported Hypersensitivity to Electromagnetic Fields in California," in California EMF Program, "An Evaluation of the Possible Risks From Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMFs) From Power Lines, Internal Wiring, Electrical Occupations and Appliances, Draft 3 for Public Comment, April, 2001" Appendix 3 (http://www.dhs.ca.gov/ehib/emf/RiskEvaluation/3-survey.pdf)].

The Board recognizes that multiple chemical sensitivities and electromagnetic sensitivities can be disabilities under the ADA if they so severely impair the neurological, respiratory or other functions of an individual that it substantially limits one or more of the invividual's major life activities. The Board is undertaking activities to begin addressing the access needs and rights of this population. The Board plans to develop technical assistance materials on best practices for accommodating individuals with multiple chemical sensitivities and electromagnetic sensitivities. The Board is also sponsoring a project on indoor environmental quality. The purpose of the project is to bring together building owners and architects, building product manufacturers, model codes and standard setting organizations, individuals with multiple chemical sensitivities and electromagnetic sensitivities, and other agencies to examine building design and construction issues that affect the indoor environment and to develop a plan of actions that can be taken to reduce the level of chemicals and electromagnetic fields in the built environment. The Board notes that the Environmental Protection Agency has issued a draft report on "Healthy Buildings, Healthy People"(http://www.epa.gov/iaq/hbhp/hbhptoc.html) that identifies actions that can be taken to make the indoor environment healthier, including promoting new design and construction techniques, and the creation and use of innovative building products and technologies. The project will consider these and other actions to make the indoor environment accessible for individuals with multiple chemical sensitivities and electromagnetic sensitivities.



James Raggio
General Counsel
U. S. Access Board
1331 F Street NW
Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004

(202) 272-0040 (Voice)
(202) 272-0082 (TTY)
(202) 272-0081 (Fax) raggio@access-board.gov (E-mail)