Many government rules put people with severe allergies at risk, because those people are required to do things that
expose them to the substances that can threaten their lives. Part of the problem is that most government officials
think of allergies as runny noses or rashes, instead of the severe whole-body reactions some people have.
Government, being all-powerful, requires people to enter government buildings to do required tasks while the building,
or the room to be used, contains allergens. One of the worst cases is jury duty, where the person must enter and remain
in a courtroom filled with allergens brought in by other people, or in the room itself. These allergens could include
new paint, rubber carpet pads, carpet shampoo, perfume, chewing gum, mints, peanut butter (sandwich), egg, hair spray,
makeup, and many other substances. Another bad case involves school children required to go to a school full of
For some strange reason, the owners of new and renovated buildings want the painting to be done the day before the
building opens. Governments are especially prone to do this. Perhaps they want a perfectly unmarred building for the
public to see on the first day. But if someone with a paint or building materials allergy attends (or has to work at)
the building opening, it might be marred in another way, with a serious medical emergency, or even a death.
Because government officials want to be environmentally correct and energy efficient, they design the air-handling
systems for buildings to recirculate the air in the building. They also require other people building buildings to make
their air-handling systems recirculate the air. This spreads airborne allergens all around the building.
Many people have severe allergies to airborne substances that other people bring aboard the transit. These
substances include perfumes, deodorants, makeup, nuts, peanut butter, chewing gum, balloons, and several kinds of food.
These people need fresh air, but economics cause the transit system to recirculate the same air (to save energy). Some
transit vehicles won't even let people open the windows.
In the mid 1970s, a bill in Congress required all breads to contain potato flour, so the potato farmers could sell
more potatoes. This would have made people allergic to potatoes unable to eat any bread. Laws actually passed required
people to endure such chemicals as TRIS, which caused allergic reactions in some people. All kinds of toothpaste have
exactly the same soap in them, so people allergic to that kind of soap can't use toothpaste. Also, although it doesn't
seem to be a government regulation, almost all dental care products seem to have mint flavoring, to the consternation
of people allergic to mint. And the wholesalers with government-sanctioned monopolies won't stock the not-mint
products, so the people allergic to mint can't buy the not-mint products.
Some people are allergic to all fabrics except cotton, and some people are allergic to the rubbery inks used to
print pictures on shirts. Recently, there has been an epidemic of counterfeiters making fake copies of designer-label
shirts. To counteract this, the federal government is urging shirt manufacturers to print the label information right
on the shirt, instead of sewing a tag into the neck. This makes it impossible for people with these allergies to get
shirts they can wear.
The person with allergies, especially to latex, chewing gum, perfume, makeup, hairspray, and other materials often
worn or used by doctors and nurses, has nightmares about medical care facilities. The AIDS epidemic caused all doctors
and nurses to start using latex rubber gloves and masks to protect them from the disease. This caused severe
reactions in people with latex allergies. Some doctors refuse to treat latex-allergic people, because they will not
use latex substitutes. Even when they try to create a latex-free environment, they miss many items made of latex,
including pillow covers, mattresses and mattress pads, and medical supplies. Another recent hazard causing reactions
in many people is benzylkonium chloride, the disinfectant the federal government recommends. In addition, they are
often painting parts of the hospital or doctor office while it contains patients.
Problems at school or in the workplace include work being done on the building, materials brought by various
people, and materials needed by the facility to do the job. One serious problem is other students or employees who do
not believe the allergy is real, and so they endanger the allergic person's life by exposing him to the allergen, to
"test" the truth of the allergy. Worst of all, some supervisors or owners don't believe in the allergy, or
will not accommodate it. And the federal government decided to exempt allergies from the Americans with Disabilities
Act, probably because the legislators didn't believe in serious allergies.
A serious problem is that law enforcement has the power to expose people to allergens under the force of law. One
serious hazard to people with latex allergies is that many of the breathalyzers in use have rubber parts. Some of
them use a latex rubber balloon. The allergic person breaks the law if he doesn't submit to the test. Then, when he
is arrested, he is usually surrounded by officers wearing latex gloves. The jail food usually doesn't cater to
allergies, especially wheat, egg, and milk allergies. And the allergic person can't avoid other allergens used in
the jail or by the jailers. Even worse, some officers will deliberately endanger the life of the person with
allergies, to "prove" he is lying.
Other problems caused by law enforcement away from jails include detours, chemical tests, and searches. A driver
trying to carefully avoid areas with allergens may be diverted by police into areas with factories spewing the
allergen into the air. The chemical tests used by law enforcement for drugs or other substances may contain
allergens. Chemicals designed to stop felons can affect bystanders, causing allergic reactions. And police doing
searches probably do not have non-latex gloves.
Neighbors cause many unintended allergic reactions. Often a neighbor paints his house, causing an allergic
reaction to paint. Worse is a well-meaning government's landlord law that requires each landlord to paint each
rental unit every three years. Other innocent-looking activities include mowing grass, spraying for bugs, and other
kinds of work around the house or in the yard. Citronella candles often trigger allergies. And blacktopping a
driveway or redoing a roof can cause severe reactions.
Note that some of these allergies do not respond to the products normally provided for allergy relief. So it is
a wrong belief that allergies can always be stopped by medicine. In many cases, avoidance is the only treatment.