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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 5:04 pm 
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A couple of weeks ago, the Toronto Star ran a front-page article about the woman who wanted to have oak trees removed at a school due to acorns / nut allergies. Allergists commented that while nuts and acorns are distantly related, acorns are so bitter that even the most curious child wouldn't eat and there was no real risk of anaphylaxis.

Fair enough, and the idea of cutting down trees made this of interest - even if front page seemed overkill. But now today there's a new Star allergy article - about how a Bell Canada made a whole big training centre go plant-free because of one employee's allergy to poinsettias (which usually means the person has latex allergy). Again on the front page.

Bell Canada bans poinsettias from its largest Ontario office due to one worker’s allergy
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article ... -s-allergy

The risk of reactions (in rare cases anaphylaxis) from poinsettias is usually just from breaking the plant and getting sap on an allergic person (and in anaphylaxis, you might have to ingest).

But Bell didn't seem to mind this accommodation for the employee (maybe her latex allergy is serious; we're not told), and the staff seemed to support it. The "plant-free" memo was later amended to say that fellow employees were just being asked not to have poinsettias. (Plant-free had been the original policy for the centre, nothing to do with the allergic employee.)

The online comments and local radio talk shows - predictably - are equating removing poinsettias with "political correctness". That was afterall the tone, and I'd contend, the intent of the Star's article. Ask yourself: why else would this be "news" at all let alone a front page article if not to get people rolling their eyes again at those "crazy allergy people".

How disappointing to see in a major newspaper. And how unhelpful to those who live with serious allergies or asthma and, yes, sometimes do need to ask for accommodations to stay in good health.

:damnedcomputer :damnedcomputer

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 8:26 pm 
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And why do doctors and support groups comment without talking to the person in questions - first? Especially since the workplace was so supportive.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 12:26 am 
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Here is Elizabeth Goldenberg's-One Spot Allergy-interview with Newstalk 1010.
A more thoughtful response.
http://blog.onespotallergy.com/2012/12/ ... employee/..


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 1:51 pm 
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Is it politically correct to obey speed limits or wear seat belts? These laws were also put in place to save lives. Some might complain that this infringes on their "right" to do what they want.

Why is the Toronto Star making allergen policies a big front page deal but not Ride programs or Operation Red Nose? Why aren't they called examples of "nanny state"?

They wouldn't dare! :verymad

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Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:19 pm 
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I don't have any issue with Dr. Waserman's response. She's right that the risk of anaphylaxis is really low. However, there is a risk of hives, and does that have to be tolerated because the Star finds this too much for "one employee" (as they're at pains to point out in their headline)?

What bothers me: even if the Bell and its employees agreed to something that's may well be overkill with latex allergy - so what? It's a private office and their business. Why is this a front page news story?

Only answer I can see: to show how ludicrous the allergy people can be. Oh no, they don't say so directly, you don't have to in a news story. Just lay out the facts and let the tut-tutting begin.

We know the newspaper got tons of reaction (pardon the pun) to the acorns / nut allergy story, so here was another opportunity to create buzz, sell newspapers, get the blogs and radio hosts yakking.

So two thumbs down from this reader.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:24 pm 
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Here is a good overview of poinsetta allergy: http://news.georgiahealth.edu/archives/137

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:00 pm 
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Although the risk may be very low for most people - one should check with this woman for her story before commenting in the newspaper. It seems to me the seriousness is being publicly dismissed - sending the message to the general public that those with anaphylaxis overreact. Unless the newspaper simply didn't report all of what was said.

All I am saying is don't dismiss the severity without knowing the facts.

I can't help but wonder what is driving this 'witch hunt' at the Star and Newstalk 1010...

They would not make a big deal of a school putting in an elevator for 1 child in a wheel chair...or the cost of installing beepers in elevators and cross walks for those who are blind.

Most businesses and hospitals now have a fragrance free policy. Even Air Canada asks their employees to refrain from using fragrance.

What makes them think it is ok to target those with anaphylaxis...

BTW I love the little Smilie smashing the computer-made me laugh...


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:21 pm 
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Good points, Deb.

Driving the witchhunt is the need for attention in a world of dwindling newspaper sales and radio ratings.

Here's another point I'd make: the centre's original policy was: no plants. A lot of businesses are doing that now for air quality - since many houseplants are magnets for mold growth (in the soil).

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:56 am 
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That's right...
And if you listen to talk radio and read articles you know a lot about - it becomes clear rather quickly that little or no research is being done. Information is being taken at face value-without actually getting to the facts.

Most large business are also fragrance free.


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