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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 DonPaladin@aol.com