"Chronic pain. Chronic fatigue. Regular ER visits. Memory loss and confusion. Seizures.
In the mid-1990s the rash of symptoms were the calling card for a group of Southwest Airlines employees working at the airline's San Antonio reservations center. Many blamed the building, the mold, frequent pesticide foggings, and bacteria in the air vents for forcing them to leave their jobs suffering a cloud of painful conditions. Now 18 years later, members of the so-called "San Antonio Seven" who sued and lost their case against the airline are finding they are likely permanently disabled. "I don't think chemical sensitivity can be cured," said Olivia Cornyn, sister to U.S. Senator John Cornyn. "Once your TILTed, you're always TILTed."
TILT refers to Toxicant Induced Loss of Tolerance, more commonly referred to as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, a disorder that is brought on by exposure to chemicals in the environment. And though the research community has been picking away at the problem for more than 30 years, and the U.S. Department of Defense's war against granting disability benefits for Gulf War veterans claiming chemical poisoning gave the illness high visibility for a time, TILT and MCS are still far from popularly understood. Try explaining to the local daycare worker how their petroleum-based cleaners could send you to the ER. Or watch the busboy's face when you ask him not to scrub down your table with bleach. You'll see."