The Search For A Toxin-Free Shangri-La
The search for a safe place to live is one of the most troublesome, frustrating, and risky activities a person with chemical sensitivities can undertake. And yet for most sufferers, it will be one of the most important. CIIN does not make specific recommendations, but it does make two suggestions here that may be of help. The first is a set of basic principles to consider in looking for a place to go. The second is an alternative housing possibility in sharing accommodations.
At the bottom of this page is a map showing airborne dispersion of 148 common pollutants. It may be a helpful tool for those wishing to move to a safer locale.
Remember, there is no perfect place. Every location has its pluses and minuses, so do not become paralyzed by the expectation of finding perfection.
Wherever you are living, it is usually not a good idea to move away from a functioning support system, be it relatives or friends. (Do not make the mistake of thinking of your friends and relatives as a support system if, in fact, they are not.) However, if the spot where you are living is unsuitable for your health, you may have to relocate locally while staying near your support. Investigation will often find cleaner microclimates in even the most unlikely areas. Pay close attention to wind patterns and land usage, and stay at least 17 miles up-wind of the nearest source of pollution. Stay away from the suburbs or other heavily pesticided/herbicided areas such as golf courses or picture-perfect neighborhoods.
On the other hand, if you are going to move for your health, the best places to go are mountainous areas. The Rocky Mountain range from Idaho and Montana down to New Mexico is still considered one of the most pristine areas in the continental U.S. Again, be aware of wind patterns and agricultural uses. Ranching country is usually better than farming country because ranchers use relatively fewer chemicals. Also, if you have pets, staying above about 4,000 feet will reduce your need for flea control.
It is best to visit any area before moving there. If that is not possible, have a friend visit the area and gather as much information as possible about the climate, the politics, and the economics of the area. But do not expect others to catch everything about an area that you would, and do not expect others to make your decisions for you.
This map shows the distribution of total modeled toxic concentration for 148 hazardous air pollutants by county in 1990. The darker the county, the higher the air pollution. taken From Environmental Health Perspectives, May 1998, Vol. 106, No. 5, page 246.