Todd in Pennsylvania

Casualty of the American Chemical War.

My name is Todd, and I worked for 14 years in the printing industry.

Throughout that time, I was exposed to, and worked in high concentrations of solvents and other chemicals. I now realize how toxic these chemicals were and what they were doing to me over that time. Unfortunately, back then, we were unable to associate how these chemicals related to various medical problems I was having. The general medical community at that time had no answers for why I was having health problems...mainly severe headaches. It wasn’t until after a final chemical spill and the resulting new set of symptoms that my doctors started to realize exactly what was wrong with me.

Since that spill, I have become completely disabled because I could not tolerate any environment outside my home due to the overwhelming use of chemicals in our “modern society”. Since becoming disabled, I now react even to extremely low levels of chemicals from perfumes, colognes, deodorants, fabric softener on clothing, dry-cleaned clothing, plastics, rubber, printed materials, adhesives, carpeting, copiers, and electronics to name a few.

But even my home is not “safe”. It is a constant battle to maintain the air quality here at a level that I can tolerate. We cannot even open the windows for fresh air from time to time because of my neighbors’ use of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, fireplaces, Bar-B-Que grills, burn barrels, clothes dryers, and lawnmowers ...yadda yadda.

The indoor air quality is impossible to maintain because of the out-gassing of carpeting, particleboard, drywall, fiberglass insulation, electronics, plastics, my children’s toys and diapers ...yadda, yadda.

Every day is a new experience in pain and trying to cope with the unfathomable scope of this illness. All my doctors say this is incurable, and can only test and treat the symptoms to try to improve my quality of life.

Imagine rarely seeing your family and closest friends? Can you imagine having to run away (or be carried away) from the people you love the most because they are too toxic for you to be near? Imagine not being able to read a good book or a newspaper? Or talk on the telephone?  Or take your children to the playground or even in your back yard?

I would not wish this illness on my worst enemy!!!

I try to keep a positive attitude on life, though. And if I could have one wish come true, it would be for me to help keep ANYONE from following in my footsteps into full blown MCS disability. 

It is time for our society to wake up and start listening to the so-called “canaries in the coal mines” who are very ill and trying to warn that the air we are breathing in our modern society will do irreparable damage to us. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away.

Miners who ignored their canaries didn’t survive very long. Will we? Will you?

E-mail Todd

In Memory of toni eisenhauser R.N.

Melva Gail Smith writes:

Below is the life story of toni eisenhauer from Floyds Knobs, IN. It was her last contribution to the newsletter Louisville Friends of A Feather, and I was proud to print it.

Some of you may have her lovely works of art. Within each drawing she would incoroprate words such as God, Father, Son. You had to look to see the words. She was an inspiration to everyone who knew her.  Her passing I was told, was a peaceful one in her home where she had been confined to a bed for quite sometime. Perhaps in some way her writing will help another who has been injured by pesticide.

-- Melva


Written by: toni eisenhauser (at toni’s request her name was printed in lower case letters.)

As of January 14, 1997, the E.P.A. reduced indoor use of Dursban (Chloropyrifos), made by Dow Elanco , because of it’s causing neurological injuries to many people as well as causing Multiple Chemical Sensitivities.

In addition to acute poisoning, Chloropyrifos and other organophospate insecticides have been reported to be associated with chronic effects in humans, including peuphrial neuropathy, chronic neurobehavioral effects and the development of sensitivities to chemicals previously tolerated, which has a wide variety of symptoms. Some symptoms often occurring can be memory loss, infections, fatigue, muscle spasms, joint pain, bone loss, and slow dying of the nervous system.

I had the unfortunate experience of being exposed to a gross misapplication of Dursban in my home on May 2, 1989.

Before my exposure, I lived a very active life style.  I enjoyed biking, riding, hiking, teaching aerobics and almost any outdoor activity. Raising a granddaughter kept me young, and being an R.N. I had a compassion especially for the young, aged and ill. During my quite time, I expressed my feelings and emotions by drawing with my pen to those who wanted to listen. By examining my strokes, you will find the Holy Trinity, Scripture and history incorporated in my pen lines.
Due to a slow deterioration of my body, I have experienced joint pain, slow deterioration of the nervous system, bone loss and loss of some body movement and function. I now am bedfast and totally dependent.

We suffer silently with a lonesome sadness when our life is reduced of enjoyments, and professions.

The alienation of family involvement, social contact, food restrictions and physical abilities only add to this sadness.

Hopefully through our dilemmas, others will become more aware of the dangers we are facing with unsafe products on the market and environment abnormalities.

toni eisenhauer passed away on March 25, 1998


When my trouble began I had just recently completed leg 1 of medical classes in June 94 and found a full time / part time job as a teacher’s assistant for the emotionally handicapped in a near by elementary school.

I got sick on September 17 (my birthday) and continued getting sicker and sicker and sicker.

I would cough, sometimes so hard I would vomit, then I would aspirate that and get sick all over again. My skin was covered with urticaria (welts, hives, appearing on my stomach, arms, and back after an exposure of any kind), and I had absolutely no stamina whatsoever. I could not lay flat to sleep. I had to sleep with head and chest elevated, it felt like I was drowning, couldn’t get enough air lying flat.

I went to Doctor after Doctor and 12 doctors later, and 4 months of antibiotics/steroids, my immune system was totaled.

I finally found a Doctor who took one look at me and said “You have chlamydia pneumonia” caused by a bacteria that grows in UNCLEAN FURNACE/AIR VENTS (after testing for Legionnaires Disease), put me on the correct antibiotic but of course by this time the damage was done.

During this time, our gas stove leaked close to 300 gal of gas into the house and I was sleeping on the couch in the living room, so naturally, I inhaled it and voila’, petrochemical sensitivity.  Hubbie and son were not effected.

That seemed like the downward spiral with me becoming sensitive to everything after that. Perfume would keep me awake for 24-48 hours straight, I would be so nervous I would sit and rock myself to keep myself from screaming from the jitters. I would hear a noise and jump like a frightened cat. And shortly before the gas leak my husband sprayed for ants in the house with chlordane, using the adage “ if a little is good, then a lot is better” I would never leave my office when it was sprayed for cockroaches- it was harmless right?

I remember one time in August 96, I needed to get away from it all so my husband and I drove from Northwestern Indiana to Pensacola Florida for a long weekend. It was a 13 hour drive and I was so full of nervous energy I drove the whole way stopping only for gas (which he pumped) was like I was on speed!. My face would break out when exposed to cigarette smoke, also was fighting candida albicans... that’s a whole other story in itself!

My life as I knew it stopped on 9-17-94...I was 43...which is ironic considering my life started on 9-17-51.....However, I am taking EPD shots and have finished shot #14 and am doing great.

EPD: Enzyme Potentiated Desensitization: a series of shots containing micro amounts of those substances you are allergic/sensitive to thereby “turning off” those mis-coded white cells that react to allergens. There are only 65 MDs in US qualified to administer this medicine currently. It has has been used in England for over 25 years with great success.

Am able to shop and be around perfume without any type of reaction, can actually be around exhaust without any reactions, can eat anything I want without urticaria, and I am no longer nervous and I sleep very well and soundly.

I give all the glory to God...and I only hope I by sharing my story with others they won’t have to go through what I have.

In Him, Vicki

PS: Husband and son are terrific through all of this- I am blessed.


My name is Jen and I'm 24 years old. I had gradual onset of CFIDS starting around 1994.

My battle with MCS began a while after I was (finally) diagnosed with CFIDS. My boyfriend also came down with CFIDS a few months after I became disabled from a severe 'crash.' We have become totally disabled and unable to tolerate normal doses of medications to control some

I'm living with my parents and fighting for social security disability. About a month ago my parents were renovating the house which included all new plywood on the floor and slate flooring put down with adhesive. Both my boyfriend and I immediately became even sicker and by the time we realized the danger we had exposed ourselves to.. it was too late.

We are now both suffering from MCS in addition to our CFIDS. Avoidance and various supplements have helped me but my boyfriend has been forced
to live at my parents house with me because he is now too sensitive to his own bedroom at his house.

We're hoping that our health will improve and we live day by day. Educating our families has been a tough road but we're succeeding.

Good luck to all who share this experience!


When my mother was pregnant with me, my father was working as a crop duster pilot, so I must have been exposed to pesticides in utero and as an infant. Still, I had a healthy childhood, though my mother developed allergies and asthma.

As a young adult, I worked in several renovated offices. My future husband was working as a housepainter when I met him. Later I helped him start a furniture finishing business and left corporate life to work as a decorative painter and faux finisher and gilder. I had an early miscarriage after taking a three week course in tarnishing metal leaf with chemicals (no respirators provided.)

After this, I researched safe and unsafe art materials and wrote an article called "Paint and Pregnancy," which I distributed to local paint stores and studios.

It was during my next pregnancy that I began to experience terrible headaches from perfume. At that point I gave up working with oil based paints or working at our shop. By the time my daughter was four, I was sick all the time with sinus infections and other disorders and was extremely depressed and had anxiety attacks (mostly while cooking on a gas stove or doing dishes). I didn't know what was wrong until I complained about perfume use at my daughter's co-op nursery school. The director used the term "environmental illness" when announcing my problem to the other parents. That was the first time I knew there was a name for what I was experiencing. 

I've been helped by homeopathy, avoidance of chemicals, and not eating wheat. But I feel very vulnerable all the time and especially hate encountering fragrances. My second child cries when I wear a mask or respirator.


My name is Peggy Davis.  I have worked as a legal secretary in Atlanta, Georgia for the past 14 years.  There was no particular incident that caused my sensitivities.  I have had allergies and sensitivities since childhood and my sensitivities have gradually worsened.  For many years I complained to doctors that substances such as fragrances, household cleansers, auto fumes, and Magic Markers (remember them) made me ill.  I was fortunate to have a doctor on my HMO who knew very little about MCS but cared and understood that I had a real problem.  My job provides income and benefits for my family.  Rather than leave I have worked for accommodation in the large firm where I work.  The constant remodeling makes it impossible for me to work on some of the floors, but it is people's fragranced personal products that constantly bombard me and add to my fatigue.  I write letters to government agencies and chemical manufacturers, trying to make a difference.  I will continue working as long as possible.


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Last updated 3/3/00