Domonic B.

Exposed to Dursban TC (4/96) while on the job.

This has changed our lives and made us aware. Have developed MCS.  Physical symptoms include headaches, muscle twitches, pain in arms legs and feet, cognitive problems, nerve damage, unfortunately the list goes on.

Other disabilities can be seen, but most Chemically Poisoned people look OK on the outside (except in reaction to something), but their insides have been poisoned so a lot of people (DR’s, friends, family, co-workers) don’t take it seriously.

E-mail Domonic

Don P.
Injured Teacher, Veteran

When UT Southwestern announced the results of their research in early April 1996;  I knew that we were getting closer to understanding the toxic effect and injury caused by toxic chemical cocktails that we have created without realizing the full implications.

Although I am not a Gulf War Veteran, I am a Vietnam Veteran.  I was more fortunate than my brother who was a Marine. He was directly exposed to AGENT ORANGE. His only biological child was born with her stomach and intestines outside her body.

I remember how my sister-in-law and brother said the doctors were very interested in her case at Children’s Hospital in Seattle because her disorder was “so rare.” She spent the first couple months of her life in the hospital. They did put her back together. I have been told that she has been “recognized by VA as an Agent Orange Baby” because she was one of nine babies with these symptoms born that year to veterans exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam.

As you may know there are many soldiers from my generation who “officially” suffer from “war related” delayed stress syndrome. The official diagnosis from the Pentagon related to “Gulf War Syndrome” was that it was a “stress related mental disorder.”

Does the pattern sound familiar? When I see STRESS as part of any medical diagnosis, I immediately think this is an indicator that the medical professional does not know what is causing the symptoms.

I have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome/with a Disorder of Porphyrin Metabolism. I am writing this in hopes that sharing my story will help prevent further injury to any man, woman, or child. I hope that this testimony will help us focus on the dangers of a toxic world and will bring light to the issue of chemical injury.

I would like to tell you my story from my perspective.

I have been a special education teacher for over twenty years. For the past seventeen years I have had a chronic illness called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity/Disorder of Porphyrin Metabolism.
For most of that thirteen years while teaching with M.C.S., I had been able to continue to teach by maintaining control of my environment (eliminating toxic environmental triggers).

Pesticides were applied to my work station (classroom or building pod) twice.

After the first exposure to pesticide by a direct application, I became extremely ill. For about last six years in which I taught I had to request leaves of absences and partial teaching assignments.

The fall of 1995 I was assigned in a building in which pesticides had been applied to my pod in June after school was out. The assumption was that it would not bother me. It did.

I am now retired on medical disability from my teaching job.

My personal story by itself may not be significant. I wish I could say I was the only person in our school system (or our society at large) being impacted by toxic chemicals. This is not the case. It is true that the number who have reactions at my level are relatively few (I am hypersensitive to very many synthetic and toxic chemicals now).

I hope we can raise the level of awareness about Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or Sick Building Syndrome. I believe that my story is a story waiting to happen again and again.

Since I have not been teaching, I have spent much time networking with others. It has been an eye opening and humbling experience.

For example, I spoke with a former school employee in Seattle who had a Masters in Social Work. She had become ill from some chemicals in her school where she was an instructional assistant. She lost her job because she could no longer work after the chemical injuries she sustained. When I spoke with her, she was living in a room on First and Pine, our Skid Road in Seattle, because that was all she could afford on her welfare payments.

I have communicated with others who are chemically injured all over the U.S. One cannot believe the damage to their lives that these chemicals have done.

There are thousands of men, women and children all over the U.S. and the world becoming sick.

There is no plan for prevention.

Part of the problem has been “official denial” that MCS even exists. Many people go to doctors for help and tell the doctor that they are having allergic reactions to chemicals. When the doctors tests them for antibodies for allergic reactions, most often they did not exist.  Then these people with MCS (about 70% are women) are labelled as “neurotic females.”

I have heard that story several times. Right now, just saying that you have sensitivities to chemicals will move you right into a psychological case bin by many conventional doctors who don’t understand the illness.

What some researchers are finding out is that many of us with MCS do not have allergic reactions—what is happening is that these chemicals are interfering with the natural metabolic processes.

I have a simple explanation for what is happening.

We are being poisoned.

I am convinced that the phenomenon of MCS, GWS, Disorder of Porphyrin Metabolism, and similar illnesses, are a “natural” metabolic reaction to toxic chemical triggers to which, through the evolutionary process, we were never intended to adapt. Quite simply, we don’t adapt to poisons, we learn to avoid them! I am convinced that toxicological research will prove this common sense hypothesis correct.

Think about this one. Would you drink a glass of pesticide or a glass of formaldehyde? Then why whould it be any safer to breathe in these toxic chemicals? There is an incorrect assumption that chemicals that are registered with the EPA are safe.  The EPA does not register for safety, only effectiveness.

Only in the last 75 years have so many “unnatural chemicals” and chemicals at “unnatural levels” been such a great part of our lives.

In the process of our evolution, toxic chemicals were not part of our developement and adaptation. Quite simply: many people with MCS do NOT have allergies; and, pesticides and many other toxic chemicals are not allergens, they are POISONS.

The most intelligent adaptation to poison is avoidance.

Researchers are just now becoming aware of the SYNERGISTIC EFFECTS of combining toxic chemicals.

A recent example is the research done on the Gulf War Syndrome (an illness in which chemical hypersensitivity is one of its symptoms).  As you may be aware from the research from University of Texas Southwestern, two pesticides (DEET and permethrin) in combination with an anti-nerve gas agent (pyridostigmine bromine—PB) caused neurological deficits in the test animals similar to those reported by some Gulf War veterans. The interesting part of the research was that taking only one of these toxic chemicals by itself did not induce the damage—it was the combinations of the chemicals.

Where in the real world are we only exposed to and ingesting only one synthetic chemical? Researchers may be able to expose living organisms to a single toxic chemical at a time in vitro: but, this is not a real world experience that even comes close to replicating what happens in life.

In the real world, the level of chemical exposure is incredible.  It is in our food, our water, and our air. Just about anything that one buys has some artificially high levels of chemicals. Is it any wonder that our bodies are refusing to detoxify all these poisons?

There is a great need for education about this, IT WILL NOT GO AWAY.

Most people with M.C.S. do not want to eliminate safe chemicals and technology. We want to find safe alternatives to those that may be harmful.

In classrooms when we receive feedback, we teach our students to pay attention to our errors and learn from them. In the case of toxic chemicals I can guarantee that we are getting an ERROR MESSAGE. We need to adjust and adapt.

We must do everything in our power to help protect children, workers, and soldiers from potential injury from chemical exposure. We must help educate others about the need to create a safe environment for all people to live, learn, and work.

Chemical injury (Gulf War Syndrome and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) is an equal opportunity illness. It has injured Blacks, Whites, Asians, all of us. It doesn’t care if one is a Republican, a Democrat, or an independent.

Thank you for taking time to read my story and my thoughts. If you have any comments, please email me at

Elizabeth M., 32 

Exposed to Durasban, Atrazine, & fertilizer and whatever else was in that tank the day these chemicals ruined my life.  Severe head pains, muscle pain in legs & arms, dizziness, liver pain and have a hard time concentrating along with numbness in arms and legs.

35 YRS (5-7-63), CALIFORNIA

I was a highly successful young woman, until I developed severe MCS last year and became disabled:  I graduated from high school a year ahead of my class with a 4.0 GPA and college scholarship.  At age 19, I was a public relations spokesperson for the Reno Police Department (Reno, NV); at age 22, I worked for the power company at Lake Tahoe (South Lake Tahoe, CA);
I held other prestigious positions as secretary to the president of First Interstate Bank (Reno, NV) and to the president/owner of The Ridge Resort (South Lake Tahoe, CA).  I have also been a legal secretary and supervised 25 employees for a large California alarm company.  I achieved two Associate’s Degrees (Psychology and English) and a Bachelor’s Degree in English (all with honors), and various professional and scholastic awards.  I was in excellent health, living a life well-balanced with exercise, nutrition, good relationships, creative outlets, and rest.  In short, I was living the good life, making above-average income, climbing the corporate ladder, with big dreams of getting my Ph.D. and going into psychiatry or teaching at a university.

I don’t know how/why I developed MCS.  I remember complaining to my mother when I was 14 that I got headaches from laundry detergents, and I always avoided lingering too long in the detergent aisles in the grocery stores.  But I wasn’t affected in any other way until age 28 (1991), when I finally figured out that the headaches, dizziness, and nausea I was experiencing at work was caused by perfumes—mine and others’.  (I wore all the designer fragrances up until that time.)  My coworkers were good friends and agreed to stop wearing perfumes to work.  End of subject, or so I thought.

But later that same year I moved from the cleaner mountain air of Lake Tahoe to Sacramento, a very polluted city.  Sacramento is in a valley and gathers both the pollutants from agriculture in surrounding areas and from its own massive population of cars and industry.  Within four months of moving here and taking a new job (with people who wore perfume), I began getting sick again.  Because I was a student (pursuing my BA at Sac State University with plans of transferring to  more elite school), I held an assortment of jobs, arranging work around my classes.  I ran into the perfume problem again and again at each job, and my symptoms began to get worse, including developing severe joint pain in my left leg.  In 1995, I asked my employer to implement a perfume-free workplace, and they supported me.  (I had been there three years at that point and had been promoted to supervisor, which enabled me to enforce the policy myself and educate my employees beginning with the time I hired them to work for the company.)  Again, my “perfume problem” went away.  I had no idea, though, that my intense joint pain and chronic insomnia were part of a bigger picture, called MCS.

In 1997, that company closed its Sacramento office and I took a new job with a local community college.  I thought it was to be my dream job.  My salary was exceptional, I had full benefits, and the job allowed me to use all of my assets and skills.  (I also became engaged the same month I started the new job.)  Though the college knew I was “allergic” to perfume and had posted signs claiming, “This is a perfume-free zone,” they did not enforce that policy.  On the contrary, there was extreme animosity from new coworkers at the idea of having to give up their fragrances; they went so far as to spray perfume on themselves while sitting or standing right next to me.

From the first day working there, I became extremely sick.  My headaches became migraines, the nausea precipitated vomiting, the blurred vision became tunnel vision—almost complete blindness at times.  Many other symptoms developed or increased, such as asthma, thyroid problems, constant diarrhea and stomach problems, PMS, etc. etc.  I went to doctors who did not know how to help me and who prescribed medications that seriously exacerbated my illness.  In spite of seeing me so terribly sick, my coworkers had no compassion.  They hated me.  But I felt I couldn’t leave for a variety of reasons, primarily because I figured I’d face similar problems with perfume anywhere I went, so why give up a high-paying job and let these b------ win?! 

I had never heard of MCS.  I thought I would eventually become immune to this “silly perfume allergy.”  I had no idea that by persisting in that environment I was poisoning myself beyond recovery and that my symptoms would continue to “spread” to both other chemicals and other symptoms.  Instead of merely being sick from perfume, I became sick to a long list of things, including car and diesel exhaust, deoderants, shampoos, cleaning products, dry cleaned clothing, paint fumes, gasoline and natural gas fumes, smoke, and so on. 

My life began to change drastically.  I could no longer wear my expensive tailored business suits (dry cleaning), high heels (leg spasms and cramps), get my hair permed or dyed, or use any of the usual products I had at home.  I spent a lot of money and effort finding unscented products to replace all those standard ones.  Even my family didn’t understand the intensity of my illness.  I lost all my friends and avoided my family, because they could not remember or figure out how to be totally free of perfumes around me.  I had to cancel my wedding plans because I could not convince the guests to come without fragrances and I didn’t want to be puking sick on my honeymoon (pardon the crudity).  And yes, I eventually became severely depressed.  I didn’t understand why I had this silly perfume problem; I was excruciatingly ill all the time; the doctors had no cure; my job was going down the tubes; I was isolated from my friends and family; no one believed me; and I was afraid of what would become of my life if I didn’t get better.  I could see that my life would be very limited if I had to avoid all these chemicals because they were everywhere!

Finally, 11 months after taking the “job from hell,” I was so ill I could not get out of bed.  My fiance had to force-feed me, bathe me, and take care of all the other household and financial chores.  I asked for a medical leave from work, and they supposedly granted it, but two weeks into the leave they sent paperwork notifying me I was being terminated.  I was too sick to fight it; I barely knew what was happening.  I was so sick I thought death would truly be a relief.

I remained bedridden for over two months (a short time compared to many with MCS).  Thankfully, I found a supportive doctor with some good ideas for treating MCS and I had the money to pay him out-of-pocket after my benefits ran out.  Fortunately, too, I qualified for Social Security Disability benefits six months after applying.

Like others with MCS, I went though a lot of agony asking, “ What happened to my life?,” “Why did this happen to me,” and “What will become of me now?”  MCS changes your life forever—too much so to describe.  But I have learned in a relatively short period of time—it’s been only eight months since I lost my job and became disabled—to appreciate the smaller things in life.  I don’t resent being housebound anymore; it’s so much better than being bedridden!  I’ve replaced my active life with one of milder pursuits, like reading a little here and there or watching a movie on the VCR when I can.  I have new friends through email.  My husband stayed with me, and is completely supportive. My attitude is positive again.   I was one of the lucky ones to survive and recover as much as I have.


The contents of this page are maintained and © 2000 by Health & Environment Resource Center/Earth Angels Association.

Last updated 3/3/00