Irene W.

My life was irrevocably changed, when in 1969, I was chemically injured and left chronically ill, because of a workplace exposure. My occupation may surprise you. I was NOT employed in what is generally accepted as a “high risk” industry.


I had just been hired to work in a brand new, state-of-the-art, energy-efficient, climate-controlled, suburban middle school in New Jersey.

I was exposed to chlordane (used as a termiticide to treat the foundation of the building) and to formaldehyde which is ubiquitous in building and furnishing materials.


Unfortunately, my school-based assault is not unique. I have been studying THE SICK SCHOOL SYNDROME for the last 12 years, as a professional environmental health consultant. My research has proven that this is a pervasive, insidious, public health crisis, a national disgrace and an “ecotastrophe.” For too long we have assumed that our schools are childproof and kid-friendly. 

We’ve been badly mistaken.

The physical environments in a growing number of schools, are AN INSULT to the developing brains and bodies of the students they are intended to nurture. And some teachers deserve hazard pay.

I have had the distinct privilege of recording the case histories of more than 2,800 students, teachers and support personnel, whose health has been compromised by THE SICK SCHOOL SYNDROME. Each of these poignant and compelling tragic tales is a chronicle of loss, altered destiny and eroded potential.  And each of these injuries could have been and should have been AVOIDED.

Please remember that “no risk is acceptable if it is avoidable.”

To SAFER SCHOOLS and kinder classrooms...

Irene W.

Jack D.

I really don’t know when I first started to have symptoms. The best I can come up with is sometimes between April 1984 and December 1984.

I worked for a nonprofit company where I processed donations among other things.  This barrel came in with something in it, I was told that it was water.  I dumped it out on the ground. I then had to clean it up by digging out the ground it had sunk in about three feet deep.

In December 1984 I went to work as a mechanic at a local service station in Prescott. I was exposed to petrochemicals in an enclosed area. Fall of 1987 help replaced fuel tank in ground.

Early in 1988 had dental work done (mercury) finished having this done summer 1988, got sicker August 1988.

Have been having trouble for the last few years, but not to the point of not being able to work.

In Memory of Jean

One of her Many Friends writes --

Jean McGill was a computer programmer when she first became Chemically Sensitive. Unable to work, she had no other choice but to move back home.

When a furnace and air conditioner were installed, she became sensitized to the home and was forced to live in her car on the driveway.

Jean was waiting on her disability determination at the time, and had the hope she would recieve it before Winter set in. She had plans of building a "safe trailer," in which to live. Despite her situation, she was full of hope. This enthusiasm radiated out from her, and touched her many Chemically sensitive friends.

Life in her car was not plesant for her. She awoke one morning to the screams of a neighbor who had managed to fight off an attacker. During the day, she walked the trails of Jefferson Memorial Forest, ...often alone. She had the hope of detoxing chemicals from her body through sweat. Also it was an escape from the lawn spray, and heavy traffic in the neighborhood.

Since the introduction of RFG Gasoline, she experienced a burning sensation, and had to drive out of the county to obtain the old gasoline so that she could tolorate being inside her car at night.

In the forest, the air was less toxic, and she felt "safe" there. It was during one of the times she walked alone that she was attacked on the trail, and died. It is sad to think that while trying to save her life, she lost it in the very place she felt at ease.

Had Jean received her social security disability, she would have been building a "safe trailer," in which to live, not walking alone in a forest.

It is equally sad that those with MCS must be put through such misery due to lack of "safe housing," and the decision making process of social security disability. An awareness of MCS must be made in order to stop future suffering of these individuals. 

Steps must be taken to protect them from the dangers of the environment, and of the human species as well.

Jean is missed by her friends, yet her memory lives on to inspire others that there is hope.

Jerry D.

Ill for 14 years, totally disabled for 1 year (as of fall 1998). For nearly 40 years I worked in a warehouse handling Cotton that had come straight from the Gin. I began to have a taste of chemicals in my mouth, the feeling spread to my sinuses, finally, it was as if I had downed a full glass of it. After that started stomach and intestinal problems. My blood pressure goes up with heart rate, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. I become become totally incapacitated. I have seen doctors of Ecology, and psychiatric medicine. I take prozac and lorazepam. I also use vitamins and herbs. I am on a hard exercise program, lift weights, and do 5 mile walks. watch my diet; no sugar, no alcohol, and I practice TOTAL AVOIDANCE.

I am getting better , as long as total avoidance is observed I need doctors and lawyers names, also would like info on support groups to keep up with latest news.

E-mail Jerry

John M.

Injured by toxic fumes in welding work.

Can no longer work due to extreme headaches, breathing difficulties, skin disorders, vision problems, and inability to concentrate, remember or follow through projects to the end.

Kathy R., RN

I am a nurse. I worked in a SICK HMO BUILDING!!!!!!!!


In 1993, I was exposed to Carbon monoxide, methane gas and chlorine in a documented non ventilated building. Since 1989, carbon monoxide was detected in the building and the findings were IGNORED!!!!!!!!

Since 1986, I believe this building has been documented as a Sick building by the State of New Hampshire.

I was fired on the same day that my former employer received a notice from OSHA that someone had complained...OSHA never did investigate the building and now they tell me that file has been destroyed.

I am unable to retain an attorney who is willing to represent me and at this point in time. I am trying desperately to notify other past employees of the toxic substances to which they were exposed.


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

Last updated 3/3/00