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Last Updated: Monday, 18 September 2006, 05:53 GMT 06:53 UK
Father 'allergic to family home'
Guy Wood with his wife Jo and daughter, Seren
The Wood family can only be together outside their current home
A man with a condition which makes him acutely sensitive to the chemicals in everyday materials has lived apart from his family for more than a year.

Guy Wood, 47, told BBC Radio's Eye on Wales he became ill if went into the new house in Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, where his wife and daughter live.

He says it forces him to stay with friends nearby in older properties.

His housing association has refurbished another house with eco-friendly paint and he hopes to move in this week.

Mr Wood has a condition known as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).

It means that he is acutely sensitive to very low levels of chemicals which do not normally affect other people.

He said the chemicals in the glues, paints and varnishes used to build and decorate properties left him disorientated and dizzy.

Many common domestic products such as air fresheners, soaps, washing powders, flame-retardant fabrics have the same effect.

Solid walls

The family home is in a new-build housing association property in Scleddau, near Fishguard, where his wife, Jo, and daughter, Seren, three, live without any problem.

But Mr Wood said he could even enter the building without falling ill, and had given up trying to live in the house. Whenever he visits, he stays in the back garden.

His family try to minimise the risk of him having a reaction when they meet, even keeping their clothes packed in plastic bags to stop them being impregnated with any chemicals present in the house.

Allergy test
Common domestic products can cause allergies in some people

For the past 18 months, Mr Wood has stayed with a variety of local friends living in older homes of a more traditional construction, such as solid walls.

He said: "Life was never meant to be like this. I can hardly find any shoes to wear because of all the chemicals in the soles.

"I don't want to be moaning and disempowered, I want to raise the profile of it as much as I can.

"This is really the last gasp. Everything hinges on this house, because I can't ask any more of my housing association."

Mr Wood has a history of chronic fatigue syndrome and was showing signs of his chemical sensitivity before his housing difficulties.

Paints and primers

MCS is a controversial area of medicine, with a body of opinion that it is more of a psychiatric problem rather than a physical one.

Mr Wood was eventually referred to Dr Sarah Myhill, who is based near Knighton, Powys, and specialises in fatigue conditions. She diagnosed Mr Wood with MCS.

Dr Myhill said MCS affected fewer than 0.5% of the population but for those with such sensitivity it "makes their lives impossible".

She said: "One part-treatment is to remove the load of chemicals in the body and that I do by sweating regimes - saunas are a very good way of getting chemical out of the body.

"I do fat biopsies to measure the levels of chemicals in the body before the sweating regimes and I do that afterwards and demonstrate the level of chemicals coming down. "

Housing association Cymdeithas Tai Cantref said it was spending about 2,000 extra on the refurbishment of a vacant property thought suitable for the Wood family.

The main differences include the use of eco-friendly paints and primers, cork flooring and untreated radiators, said the association's technical services David Watkins.

He said: "The subtle differences are in the materials used, mainly of an organic base, and making sure that the existence of traditional gloss paints, particularly new gloss finishes, were sealed with material of an organic nature which was environmentally friendly and didn't off-gas in a way that will affect Mr Wood's health."

Eye on Wales is on BBC Radio Wales shortly after 1800 BST on Monday, 18 September.

"The place is built out of stuff to which I am highly sensitive"

The woman allergic to modern life
17 Feb 06 |  Mid Wales
Household chemicals health warning
15 Mar 00 |  Science/Nature
Living with allergies
10 Sep 99 |  Health
Chronic fatigue syndrome/M.E.
09 Feb 05 |  Medical notes


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