The Acorn Award is given to people with MCS/CI who have created products, services and projects that benefit the lives of people with MCS/CI. Whether by creating an invention, maintaining an MCS website or hosting a discussion board, together our efforts are making a positive difference. Seeds of change grow into mighty oaks. To nominate a chemically injured person for an Acorn Award, send his name, brief story and email address to

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Julie from USA

Julie Genser, photographer, writer and certified holistic health counselor creeated Planet Thrive. Her life was derailed by extensive food and chemical sensitivities brought on by multiple exposures to environmental toxins.

She gave this interview in November of 2006.

How and when did you get MCS?

I became aware I had MCS in September 2004 during a nightmare that unfolded in Washington state and Arizona, where I had gone to study sustainable architecture for a few months. Local conditions—mold, local pollen, daily controlled forest fire burnings, pesticides—brought on severe MCS and I had to drop out of the program after a month. My mother had to come out and fly back with me because I would not go on a plane alone. The suddenness and severity of my symptoms, coupled with the fact that I was alone in a new environment with no social support to help me deal with it was enough to cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

But now I can see the signs were there for years before. I had mercury and arsenic poisoning in the mid-90s but wasn’t diagnosed until 2001 even though I had the classic symptoms. Then in 1998 I was exposed to toxic fumes in a garbage dump fire in Mexico. I developed extensive and severe food allergies a month later, overnight. This is when I became aware I had a systemic problem but was still relying on allopathic medicine to diagnose and treat me. I was in NYC for 9/11 and that also had a deep impact on my health. I lived relatively close to ground zero and the air quality was terrible for months. I started noticing seemingly isolated chemical sensitivities that I had never had before after that.

First it was a reaction to a latex hot water bottle. Then I had an allergic reaction to topical Aloe Vera on my face. Eventually it was to things like wool and synthetic materials in bedding. My sense of smell was very reduced for about 10 years and then around 2003 it started to come back stronger than before. By the time I left NYC in the summer of 2004, I knew I was becoming very sensitive to chemicals but I hadn’t yet embraced the terms MCS or EI for myself. Hearing a diagnosis of Environmental Illness from a local doctor in Arizona was heartbreaking and scary.

What inspired you to create Planet Thrive?

Planet Thrive began as a small idea probably around 2002. It came out of my own struggles to research my health conditions online and find anecdotal information and support from others that were dealing with the same issues. But it was the website that actually caused the germination of the idea. I started thinking…what if there was a site that did this, but for people like me, searching for answers to mystery health issues that doctors couldn’t help with? Instead of connecting people with similar interests, it would connect people with similar symptoms! That was exciting to me and I slowly started to build on my idea.

What's the purpose of Planet Thrive?

Planet Thrive has several intentions, which are laid out in our mission statement. Basically, we strive to harness the collective intelligence that comes from the lessons illness brings us.

The first is to provide an extensive library of first-hand, anecdotal experience with both alternative and conventional healing methods.

Another is to offer emotional support and opportunities for connection to those on a healing path

One of our underlying goals is to encourage home businesses that put human, animal, and environmental health before profits

Ultimately, we want to help educate and inspire others to lead healthier, richer, more fulfilling lives, in harmony with the universe.

What advice do you have for people thinking of starting an Internet group?

Do your research and make sure you are providing a service that is not currently being offered elsewhere. Try to find partners who can share the workload and financial investment, as well as inspire each other to keep going. Believe in your dream, and in your ability to make it happen. Think about the big picture, but take the implementation one day at a time otherwise it might be too overwhelming. Remember that small steps will always add up to big steps.

What is the hardest thing about maintaining Planet Thrive?

It is a lot of work for me personally, on a daily basis. Some days I just don’t feel like doing anything, or my health doesn’t allow it. It would be great for me to have a team of people who were helping input data and maintain the site, and to help inspire me to be productive on a consistent basis.

Do you have people helping you?

I developed, built, and maintain this site on my own. The first few years, I pretty much worked in a vacuum, while I was isolated due to my MCS and had nothing to do all day. I focused on developing my site. As the project grew and became more of a reality, I started sharing my enthusiasm and passion with others. I began to involve other people in the process. So lots of people have helped me along the way and the site would not be possible without their collective help. The company I bought my software from has been unbelievably supportive and helpful on a daily basis—the site would just not exist without them. I have a wonderful team of lawyers providing pro bono (free) legal services. My dad offers advice on business and tax issues. Friends and family have provided feedback on design and content throughout the whole process. A member who has become a friend is helping me with some data input. I have been very blessed in this respect.

What have you learned about yourself from creating Planet Thrive?

I learned that it pays to listen to my inner self; my beliefs, my value system, and that I have something important to share with the world. When we stifle our own voice in order to fit into a society that doesn’t make sense to us, we not only support the disease process in ourselves, but we hurt the planet as a whole. We each owe it to ourselves and to the world to speak our truth.

What helps you thrive?

I recently moved near the ocean from one of the most toxic cities (NYC) and being so close to a body of water keeps me grounded and connected to spirit.

Eating an organic diet and preparing all of my meals nourishes both my body and soul.

Finding connection with like-minded people feeds me like nothing else.

Feeling the sun on my face and body saturates me with healing energy.

Having a vehicle like Planet Thrive to help me contribute to the world in some way makes me feel productive and gives great meaning to my life.

What helps you get through difficult times?

Creating Planet Thrive has kept me alive and sane through the surreal experiences of the past few years. It has connected me to Spirit. It has given me something to focus on outside of myself—something that will help others and give meaning to my own suffering. It has allowed me to express many parts of myself—the creative artist, the compulsive worker, the methodical organizer, the cerebral innovator.

When faced with an illness as harsh as MCS, it is easy to lose faith in the world, in your God, in yourself. Everything has failed you: your body, the medical system, your friends and family, your environment—the whole world and universe. Planet Thrive has been an opportunity for me to believe in myself in a way I have never before and to take back some control over my health and my world.

There is a quote by Rumi: The spiritual path wrecks the body and afterwards restores it to health. It destroys the house to unearth the treasure, and with that treasure, builds it better than before.

Planet Thrive has been the mortar that I am rebuilding my house with.

10. If you were a superhero, what would be your superhero name?

Well, a while back I actually created some superheros and it’s hard to choose one. My names are Luna, Kaia, Electra, and Centaur.

Thank you, Julie for sharing your story. All the best in your work to help people and the earth to thrive.

Create your own superhero character with the Hero Machine Generator

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Moon McNeill, Germany

Moon McNeill
founded the group Artists with MCS, now Creative Canaries. To read more about the artists, their work and the organization, please visit the Creative Canaries web site. There, you can also find information on safer art materials and MCS awareness posters. Presently, there is a call for artists with MCS for upcoming exhibitions in Chicago and Dallas.

This is Moon's interview from November, 2006.

1. How did you get MCS?

My first symptoms appeared back in 1974 when I had a lot of amalgam fillings done. All in all I had 14 big fillings, some of which fell out every once in a while. I never suspected anything was wrong, but I realized I always had hurting teeth and a metal taste in my mouth. I was also aggressive and depressive, sometimes even suicidal. I started to react to perfume and cosmetics and my health situation got worse with the years. Unknowingly, I came into contact with solvents in the art room of my school and with wood preservants and formaldehyde in my home. It was in 2000 that I broke down after many years of detoriating health and an LTT test revealed that I was allergic to Amalgam. My fillings were removed in 1992, but without any safety precaution like Kofferdam, so I inhaled the lot. What's worse: the dentist recommended gold fillings instead of ceramics and forgot to tell me that there are ways to detoxify amalgam from the body.

2. What is the attitude of German people to using everyday chemicals? Are they aware of the harm?

No, not at all! Most of the people have no idea that household chemicals are dangerous, although they know that kids should not play around with them. The supermarkets sell tons of fabric softeners and you can open any kind of perfume bottle to take a sniff before you buy. Clothes or shoes smell of formaldehyde, but they are bought nevertheless. Cosmetics are in fashion and people in my hometown love to wear lots of perfume. We have institutes that promote a critical attitude and publish research of their product testing series regularly, but the average customer is not aware of danger and not willing to hear about it.

3. Is the medical system in Germany attentive to the needs of people with Chemical Sensitivities?

No, not really. We have some environmental doctors here, mostly situated in the southern parts of Germany. Some are regularly attacked by the authorities, some have given up practicing because of that. In Northern Germany, where I live, there is a small psychiatric clinic with six environmental beds. But when they send you to your family doctor with lots of ideas what could be done, you will mostly be ignored. In the last few years, the developments are even more negative. The so called RKI study cared for more MCS victims being psychiatrized, although the study came to the conclusion that Chemical Sensitivities are a severe and disabling illness. The involved clinics and environmental ambulances could not present convincing results in regard to the existence of reactions to chemicals, the causes and the quality of therapies, so we are in a worse situation than we were before. We are way back in the seventies here, when it comes to environmental medicine. I regard the situation as dramatic and traumatic!

4. What inspired you to begin Creative Canaries, a network for artists with MCS?

I have always been involved in art somehow, I sang in bars and painted when I was 15, I played theatre in school and so on. After I received my diagnosis, I fell into a deep hole. While recovering, I thought that art could help me to digest my new situation. A lost job, no medical help and all that! I found that I could not tolerate any paint. It took two years for me to start painting and that was so depressing that I started to look for more artists in the same situation. In the internet, I met the American musician Kim Palmer ( in 2001 and asked her via mail if she would join a network for artists with MCS if there was one. She said: yes, decidedly. Great idea! So I founded the network and started to look for artists who had Chemical Sensitivities. I wanted to find out about safe art material and non-toxic ways to make art, in spite of having Chemical Sensitivities. I wanted to create a pool of knowledge about safer art material and share experiences. And I wanted to support artists with MCS to earn something, to exhibit etc, in spite of their disability. By and by, others came and I started to feel less isolated.

Kim Palmer died in October 2006, after having a mammography. She became electro-sensitive in addition to being a universal reactor to chemicals, and just fell apart in the following year. Kim Palmer was the person who inspired me most, because she sang about this illness. She impressed me with her strong personality and her dry humor. She was terribly sick, but still worked as an artist and activist and produced her music in a porcellain trailer where she lived. I realized what we can do for the MCS world, how important art is when it comes to initiating cultural change. And how important for us, who need to express all the anger, worries, needs, fears and wishes we experience.

5. What's the purpose of the network Creative Canaries?

There are many purposes, depending on the different perspectives. Some members just want to be in contact with other artists and share their art, some want to work politically. Many want to start exhibiting or rehearsing again or get back to making art after years of being unable to make art. The bigger purpose is to inform the public about this devastating illness and its causes, to make known that lots of art material is toxic and/or sentisizing and can cause all kinds of severe illnesses, like asthma, allergies, heart palpitations, eczema, lung cancer, brain fog and the like, if you do not use gloves or glasses or breathing masks. Many people are not aware that even the small doses of formaldehyde in acrylic paint can cause cancer in the breathing system! Another purpose is to support each other in getting recognition as an artist. It is hard to direct a film, exhibit in a museum, sing in front of a perfumed audience or play in a theatre when you have Chemical Sensitivities, but it is not impossible! We need specific precautions, but they can be realized. We are disabled and have a right to work in our jobs, demand support and facilities that are safe. Laws like the ADA are one thing, reality often is quite another.

6. How many artists belong?

In the moment, we have 50 artists from 3 continents, but I am connected to a lot more people who just don't want to join a network like ours. Many artists are afraid that when the public gets to know they have Chemical Sensitivities, they will be discriminated. I truly understand them but my own choice has been different.

7. How has the response been to the group and the artwork?

Well, that really is a difficult question. We do not have the funds to really kick-start the group, so everything happens very slowly. We are planning to exhibit at the AEHF symposium in Dr. Rea's environmental clinic in Dallas in 2007. We also propose for a show in Chicago. Some of our artists exhibit paintings, publish stories or try to make performances, but we do not have real support anywhere. Let's say: we are still in the experimental phase of becoming what we want to be. But with time and persistence, we will get there. It is a long process.

8. What keeps you going during difficult times?

My friends everywhere in this world keep me moving ahead! I have so many wonderful e-mail contacts to people in Denmark, Rumania, Finland, England, France, America, Canada and Australia. They all have Chemical Sensitivities. Last year I even found two wonderful friends without MCS who can come and visit me. They stay fragrance free. I was very lonely sometimes before they came, in spite of all my internet contacts. When things get nasty, I take a walk somewhere and let nature provide her healings powers. This planet is so unbelievably beautiful and unique. I ask myself how we can be so stupid to think that there is anything like it anywhere else!

9. What advice do you have for others thinking of organizing people with MCS into some sort of group?

Good question! Well, prepare yourself for difficulties and conflicts of all kinds. The life we live is so hard, it strains us beyond belief. We need to struggle against so many obstacles. This makes life so hard sometimes that we are aggressive, non-compromising, unfriendly, lacking patience. We tend to see ourselves as victims, but I prefer to empower myself and live my life, even with all the obstacles I have to face. We ARE Victims of course, but it does not help to concentrate on that. But the mere fact cares for group dynamics that can be very difficult to handle. But there are other times when you feel that a group is a wonderful and dynamic organism and collects a bunch of great people that inspire you a lot! I would not want to miss a single moment, in spite of all difficulties I experience.

10. What have you learned from your experiences with Creative Canaries?

Mostly that we are all sitting in the same boat, but have not yet decided to row in the same direction! I wish all support groups for people with Chemical Sensitivities would unite and use the power that they would have. I wish all artists with Chemical Sensitivities would get up, join this network and start to really get busy. This planet needs us!

Thank you Moon, for all your dedication and for sharing your courage with us today.

Monday, June 26, 2006

We Have a New Web Site


Please note there is no www. in the address.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Diana and Jim USA

Diana and Jim from USA

Jim and Diana are owners of Terressentials organic products. They are activists working to keep organic standards safe and natural. Their web site contains a wealth of information for all consumers of organic products.

1. What prompted you to create Terressentials?

After I went through radical chemotherapy in 1988, at age 29, for non-Hodgkins lymphoma, my partner, James Hahn, and I began to do intensive research into the causes of cancer and to try to learn about the causes of the multitude of health problems that I developed after
the chemo.

We spent many months doing research and discovered that my immune system was overloaded from the chemo and was so unbalanced that I had begun having severe reactions to the many synthetic and ubiquitous chemicals in our lives: in foods, water, our home & garden, clothing and in personal care products. We also discovered that many products that I had been using contained substances linked to cancers. This angered us, as we had assumed that there was some protection from unnecessary exposure to toxic chemicals in commonly used products.

Back then, in our research infancy, Jim and I vowed to purchase all of our products from "health" food stores in order to avoid the chemicals that were causing me to have so many negative reactions. As I continued to have reactions to health food store products, we quickly learned that we could not trust the labels for the products found in these stores.

We were appalled to find so many synthetic chemicals in products labeled "natural" and "organic" in "health" food stores and we were discouraged because, as we became more knowledgeable about the mysterious ingredients on the product labels, it became more and more difficult to find products that we would want to use on our bodies. After spending years doing intensive research and searching around the world for products free from synthetic chemicals, it became clear to us that, if we wanted healthier products, we were going to have to make them ourselves.

Though our educational background and professional careers were in architecture and design, my chemo-induced chemical reactivity problems made it impossible for me to return to work in commercial building design and have to handle fresh paint samples, new carpet samples, vinyl wallcoverings, chemically-treated fabrics, particle board, fresh wood stains, blueprint fumes, etc., on a daily basis. Jim and I concluded that we were going to have to find a new way for us to earn a living.

With all of the research that we had had to do to find clean personal care products and after hearing from many people across the country about how difficult it was for them to find healthy products, we realized that we could provide a useful mail-order service offering folks the best, most natural and truly organic products. So we began our first mail-order catalog business in 1991.

As we searched for products to fill the pages of those early pre-Internet, recycled newsprint, soy-based ink catalogs, it was difficult to find truly healthy products in all personal care product categories. We were forced to study product formulation and chemical dictionaries to learn how products were made and to understand the difference between "derived from" synthetics and real, unprocessed organic ingredients. We began to formulate products for our own personal use and as word got out that we had better products, the demand for them began to grow.

2. What resources did you tap into to create the products?

Looking back, our years spent locating and reading through thousands of reference materials, spending days at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, studying technical cosmetic formulation texts and trade journals, reviewing patents, studying organics, experimenting with
hundreds of organic materials and product recipes, buying an organic farm, studying about herbs, growing herbs and learning how to use them, etc., provided us with an excellent foundation on which to build our company.

In short, our personal experiences with my chemo-induced chemical reactivity issues inspired both Jim and me to become obsessive research junkies which was the driving force behind the creation of our products.

3. What barriers did you encounter in the beginning phases and how did you overcome them?

In the early years, we thought that "health" food stores would love to have truly clean chemical-free, true organic products and that, if we offered them our clean products, they would rush to offer them in their stores. Well, after eight years of trying to get through to these
stores we became aware of a few very sad and frightening facts. The so-called "health" food stores were not interested in learning about chemicals in the products that they were selling. In fact, the stores were (and still are) highly resistant and very defensive about what they
were/are selling. This baffled us, as we had thought that the store owners believed as we did and would want to learn as much as possible about healthier products and a healthier lifestyle, particularly since this was what their business was supposed to be about.

In store after store, when we tried to talk about the chemical ingredients, for example, preservatives -- parabens and grapefruit/citrus seed extracts -- owners and staff would, unbelievably, refuse to listen or even read the scientific data that we presented to them. Why were they so unwilling to hear and read the truth for themselves? It took us a few more painful years, thousands of wasted dollars and much more research to discover that, very often, up to 60%
of a store's revenue comes, not from sales of foods, but from sales of synthetic personal care products and pills. Many small independent stores were coasting or struggling in the face of the growing competition from well-capitalized natural grocery store chains and relied heavily on the sale of synthetics to finance their operations. They simply did not want anything, certainly not information, exposing their "natural" products as unnatural synthetics to reach their customers ears and upset their lucrative financial apple cart. To protect their interests and preserve the status quo, most stores refused to carry our products and pretended that they had never heard of
TerrEssentials when customers made inquiries.

This attitude and practice in the "health" food industry suppressed the growth of our small company for many years.

4. What are your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?

Our greatest strength is our research and the persistence that has enabled us to produce our suberb organic products.

Our weakness, right now, is that we are currently short-staffed and cannot produce products as quickly as we would like.

5. Can you tell me about your work on keeping organic standards high?

Back in the 90's when we saw how the word "organic" was being abused by personal care products in the natural products/health food store industries, we were compelled to try to inform consumers about what true organic was and about how to identify synthetic chemicals (frequently described as "naturally-derived") on product labels and to understand their potential for toxic effects on humans, our waterways and wildlife. We became activists against the use of synthetic chemicals in personal care products and about informing people about washing their toxic personal care products down bathtub drains into our waterways and drinking water supplies. The use of toxic personal care products can now be compared to the second-hand cigarette smoke situation. If you
are doing everything that you can to protect your personal health, does someone else have the right to use personal care product vanity chemicals that will pollute your air and water, that can cause you to develop neurological or endocrine disorders or cancer?

Being a very small company without a multi-million dollar marketing budget, our resources were limited, but we began to publish creative educational brochures that would target specific chemicals and categories of products and we would make these brochures available to anyone who asked and in any quantity that they requested.

We had a very difficult time getting the natural products industry's healthy magazines to report on the growing problem of faux natural, faux "organic" personal care products. As it turns out, we discovered that the "natural" products magazines derive a substantial amount of their advertising dollars from ads that promote personal care products containing synthetics, so it was not in their financial interest to write articles that would call attention to unhealthy, toxic personal care product ingredients or the controversy surrounding the use of the word "organic" on personal care products whose core functional ingredients were synthetic chemicals.

With the "health" food stores and the "natural health" media refusing to help us bring the information about the synthetic ingredients to the consumers, it was taking us years to get the truth to the public. Unfortunately, big chemical companies with bigger resources were becoming more bold with their use of the word "organic," especially when they saw that no one was policing them. New companies and new products all claiming to be "all natural" and "organic" were popping up all over and the retailers and manufacturers rode an unprecedented wave of profits -- hundreds of millions of dollars -- lovingly, to their banks. "Don't ask, don't tell" was proving to be a very profitable mantra, indeed.

We grew increasingly frustrated with the confusion being foisted upon our customers, the detioration of the word "organic," the unfair marketplace competition and the unscrupulous greedy maneuvering in the natural products marketplace. Finally (four years ago), we decided to try to work with established organic and environmental non-profit acitivist groups and to try to get the attention of the mainstream media, as we knew that the mainstream media was not as dependent on the advertising dollars from "natural" personal care product companies. Our first successful attempt was in making a presentation of factual data to the New York Times, which intrigued and angered them enough to prompt them to write an article that ripped through the natural products
industry and created a ripple effect of other news pieces in the mass media. (To view some of these articles, see the right side of the home page of our web site)

We work with and/or support the work of environmental groups such as Organic Consumers Association (OCA), The Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Friends of The Earth. The Organic Consumers Association was so outraged over the information that we provided to them in 2002 about
the proliferation of faux organic products in the "health" food stores and on the internet, that they started their successful "Coming Clean Campaign." EWG produced and broadcast their highly-regarded report "Skin Deep" which is a very useful tool that highlights problematic
ingredients in personal care products. Friends of the Earth is to be commended for their work with the "Safe Cosmetics Campaign" which raises awareness about phthalates, highly toxic chemicals, found in personal care products.

When Jim and I learned that two different industry groups, composed primarily of large personal care product companies without consumer input, had gotten together to create "organic" standards for their personal products, we insisted that we be allowed to participate and observe. After four long years, we're still not seeing standards that mimic the USDA's organic rules for foods or that we would feel comfortable endorsing. Our biggest question still remains: we already
have the USDA National Organic Program, why do we need a second, third or fourth set of "organic" standards? Talk about confusing the public!

We attend industry meetings and conferences to observe industry trends and activities. We attend USDA National Organic Program meetings and provide testimony when necessary. We contact our politcal representatives and have presented our viewpoints to them, personally, on Capitol Hill. We do public speaking and write articles for our web site and other publications as much as we can. In short, again, we are obsessive research junkies and organic/environmental activists and we don't sleep much.

The battle for organics is not over, however. It is particularly disturbing that our own US National Organic Program regulations have only been in effect for just three years (!) and, in that very short span of time, we fear that we may have lost the meaning of the word "organic." So many non-food companies and products are using the word "organic" right now, that we are afraid that the word has become nearly as meaningless as the word "natural." Millions of entries for "organic" personal care products can be found on the internet and good luck finding one that meets the USDA standards for foods without using oleochemical shampoo detergents or oleochemical emollients, synthetic makeup pigments, synthetic preservatives and sunscreens or synthetic
fragrance. How can a product that contains unapproved synthetic chemical ingredients dare to be labeled as organic? Where is the USDA oversight here? Why haven't they stepped in to stop this abuse and degradation of our word "organic?"

We have an uphill battle ahead of us in this fight to take back our word organic and if the USDA National Organic Program continues to ignore the problem, then we will have to find a way to work around them. Hopefully, we will not have to start from scratch and create a new word to represent what "organic" is supposed to mean.

6. What advice do you have for chemically intolerant people wishing to create natural products?

Do lots of research.

7. What advice do you have for chemically intolerant people wanting to challenge current organic standards?

Read the USDA National Organic Program regulations, every page, to become very informed about what the current standards for foods are, what they cover and how you, personally, feel about the details of labeling and allowed synthetics. Read product labels of all types of products and become an expert in identifying synthetic ingredients. Please take the time to learn the issue and its many details, as it is a very complicated situation and the last thing that we need is more misinformation added to the huge confusing mess that already exists.

Once you are informed, become very vocal and active in your community. Begin by writing brief, unemotional, well-referenced factual letters or organize letter writing campaigns to the USDA, politicians, newspapers and broadcast media to tell them how you feel about the problems
surrounding the indiscriminate use of the word "organic" and offer suggestions and propose solutions, if you desire. Arrange for educational information workshops and seminars in your local area churches, schools, clubs, etc. Organize and support small organic farmers and small producers of true organic products to form community-based coalitions to meet personally with your political representatives.

Remember, knowledge is power and there is power in numbers!

8. Where does your inner strength needed to face the toughest times come from?

We are driven by a desire to remain cancer free and to share the truth about what we have learned about health, organics and protecting the environment with as many people as possible. Life is short!

9. Who has inspired you in your life?

Jim and I share many sources of inspiration. We inspire each other, for one. We have also always been inspired by great thinkers, people with social vision, people of science and people of the arts. We recommend reading some of our favorite authors, Aldous Huxley, Ray Bradbury,
George Orwell, Ayn Rand.

For anyone seeking inspiration, we recommend the following: smashing your television with a sledgehammer; read, read and read more; experience visual arts and music -- paint, sing, dance or sculpt a monument; get personally involved with science -- learn about herbs and organic gardening; shatter the suburban box and seek out that which is different and, importantly, question authority.

10. What has developing these products and your work in fighting for high organic standards meant in your own life?

In our organic activist work over the past fifteen years, we have been honored to have met and worked with some very dedicated and committed people -- real movers and shakers. We have been inspired by these people, many who made great sacrifices in their personal and professional lives to fight against the corporate machine to preserve and protect the integrity of the organic ideal, the organic vision.

In our past lives as design professionals in the architectural field, though we worked on prestigious public buildings, we both agree that we never received the level of satisfaction that we now find in our current organic work. We are constantly amazed by the thousands of personal
letters that we receive from intelligent people around the world, including China, Japan, Korea, Europe, Canada, Australia (and many other countries), who share our feelings about organic products and environmental justice. We feel deep satisfaction with the human connections that we have made and the lives that have we have positively impacted through the sharing of our organic products and our research.

When we finally ease out of this life, we will be at peace knowing that we did everything that we could to leave gentle footprints and a path outlined with organic flowers for others to follow.

Kind regards,

Diana and Jim

Peggy from USA

Peggy from the USA

Peggy is founder of the MCS Beacon of Hope Foundation.

This is her interview from Jan/2006.

1. What is the purpose of the MCS Beacon of Hope Foundation?

First, I would like to say Thank-You on behalf of everyone here at the “MCS” Beacon of Hope Foundation! We are honored to have received the Acorn Award!

The “MCS” Beacon of Hope Foundation is dedicated to increasing awareness and education “World~Wide”, on the dangers of toxic exposures, the adverse health affects they have on our bodies as well as the environment and to make known the readily available safer choices, products, and practices.

To continue our efforts in obtaining Proclamations for “World~Wide” Toxic Injury Awareness and Education Month.

To continue taking a stand in defending our God given and constitutional rights, our health and welfare. To do our part in protecting our environment and it’s natural resources, and to teach and practice better stewardship.

To help in the fight to improve the quality of our indoor/outdoor air, protect our water supply, forests and other natural resources, to keep our food chain pure and implementing truth in advertising (better labels and label laws).

To enhance, support, and assist the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual welfare of those with toxic injuries/illnesses and disabilities.

To provide assistance and support in acquiring adequate medical care and in locating and procuring the special accommodations now deemed medically necessary.

To develop environmentally safe & user friendly emergency retreats & assisted living quarters. We know that “All” good things take time ~ we just hate that time has run out for so many while we travel that long & hard road seeking donations/sponsors & dedicated volunteers to help us help others. We are all aware of the urgent need for emergency shelters (at least a place in every state where those in such need can take a hot shower, do their laundry, receive physical & spiritual nourishment & rest for a spell ~ even get a hug & a prayer ~ if they so choose). Places that would serve those who are ill, homeless & can’t go to the available motels, shelters & Y’s and for those traveling long distances to doctors’ appointments, etc. We were hoping our law-suite would provide at least enough to get the first one started to use as a model but that didn't’t happen. Perhaps God has a better plan!

To promote and maintain our “Hearts” Across America Registry.

Our hearts weep for our children and the fate of our planet. We are committed to bring about positive changes that stop placing our children and others needlessly into harm's way ~ to stop the poisoning, stop the injuries, illnesses, disabilities and premature deaths caused from senseless toxic exposures and air pollution.

Julia (our daughter and Co-Founder) and I are always looking for dedicated volunteers. If you know of any "Angels" that are willing to make a tax-deductible donation or volunteer a little of their time, energy and talents to help bring Hope, Help & Solutions back into the lives of those with Toxic Injuries., please have them contact us at:

We’d also like to mention our urgent need for a grant writer (percentage bases) and about those tax-deductible donations ~ ~ ~ no amount is too small or too large!

2. What are some of your projects past and present?

In 2005 we were successful in getting ten Governors to sign proclamations declaring the month of May 2005 Toxic Injury Awareness and Education month plus two Governors also signed making May “MCS” Awareness and Education month. Julia and I thank our State and Country Representatives for their supportive efforts. In 2006 and throughout the coming years rest assured we will be knocking on the doors of the President of the United States, Governors, Members of Congress, Senate, Parliament, and other Elected Officials.

We are also working on getting the proclamation to the House and Senate for a resolution and here is where everyone can really lend a hand. We need as many signatures on the petition for proclamation as we can possibly gather at:

As this is an ongoing petition for "World~Wide" Toxic Injury Proclamation one only needs to sign on once. If one can’t remember if they have signed or not they can go to: click on: "Search Signatures" and type in their name and if they have signed it will come up. If not, then we hope they will sign and then ask others to sign on in support. One can also type in the "state or country" they are from and all those signatures will pop up.

We have been privileged to help a few people acquire some of their special needs, listened and chatted for hours with those who have contemplated ending their lives because they felt so alone and in so much pain life had become unbearable for them. We have helped a women get home to attend her mother’s funeral, helped get food to some hurricane victims, donated lots of clothing and other items, provided Christmas gifts for a few deserving children who would otherwise been disappointed on Christmas morning and Julia bought and decorated a little tree and delivered a few gifts for a wonderful lady who wanted so to enjoy the lights of a Christmas tree again this 97th year of her life!

The list goes on but we don’t feel the need to “brag” about what we do for others ~ helping them is our mission ~ hearing the joy, thankfulness and gratitude in their voices is more than enough reward.

We have also been busy adding new material to our website at:

There you will find information on the foundation including our introductory letter, mission statement, info on toxic exposures, doctors’ articles, helpful hints, etc. All our information is offered as a public service without charge for all to use or share with doctors, attorneys etc. However, it does costs to run a foundation and website therefore any tax-deductible donations would be greatly appreciated and used to further our goals. Julia and I have gladly donated our time, energy and limited resources for years now to keep the foundation running and moving forward in a positive Christian direction.

Website is monitored and updated frequently, so please check back with us often for new information

3. Why did you start the foundation?

Toxic exposures destroyed Domenic’s and my health, amputated our lives and then prematurely took Domenic’s life. As ill as we were, we spent the last years of his life making endless phone calls and inquiries, moving from state to state seeking proper medical care, safer housing and someone, anyone or agency that understood what was happening to us but all was in vain as none were to be found in time for Domenic.

What was the inspiration behind it?
Domenic and I promised each other that if we didn't go home to the Lord together that whoever remained would do all they could to try and prevent this from happening to others and to let them know that someone is out here working hard to bring Hope, Help and Solutions back into their lives, that someone truly understands their pain and cares for them.

4. What are some of the difficulties you've encountered during your
projects and how did you overcome them?

This year has been an extremely difficult one for Julia and I having a loved one killed in the line of duty, dog attack/bite (dog had received no shots ~ ever), Julia also having to deal with one of her patients (mentally challenged) pulling a loaded gun at the clinic she was running, I barely survived a month long fire and smoldering fumes from the field fires across the road from me, then diesel fumes from the clearing of the 80 acres in back of me, we both had major health issues and setbacks to deal with, a move, our computers destroyed, and the list goes on . . . But through it all we relied on our faith in God, our love of life and our humor to see us through and we made sure we were available to those in need who contacted us for help. By helping others through a difficult situation we have found it helps us to grow in faith, strength and character.

While it is well known that the chemical industry continues to spend mega dollars to prove that multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) does not exist, many hardworking people and organizations, including Julia and I have also experienced and are very disappointed in the lack of unity within the community of those with toxic injuries, illnesses and disabilities. It is past time for everyone to join hands and support one another’s efforts instead of helping the chemical companies further deny our health issues and/or the causes of same by the disagreeing, infighting, and nit picking about whether or not all the I’s were dotted and the T’s crossed to their specifications!

We hope starting in 2006 that everyone will set aside their petty differences, begin working in harmony and showing our strength in numbers. Let’s all join forces to knock down the walls that divide us and build the bridge that will lead to a Happier and Healthier tomorrow for all.

5. What advice do you have for anyone with MCS who is thinking of
starting an awareness campaign?

GO FOR IT ~ but first one might consider joining a group or organization that is already up and running and involved in the same or similar goals and efforts you would advocate for. Ask to join their team and state that you have some ideas, plans, hopes and dreams to bring to the table and see if they would be open to including any of them in their future plans. If their goals are the same or similar to the issues you are interested in pursuing it might be more beneficial to all and less stressful on you if you joined forces rather than starting from scratch ~ trying to reinvent the wheel so to speak.

We also have found it important to remember and accept the fact that while the rest of the world seems to function very smoothly at 80 miles an hour, some of us with Toxic Injury struggle to halfway function at a very bumpy 10 miles an hour or less . . . but a bumpy ride towards positive changes is far better than no ride at all.
And don't treat lightly the "little things" in life. They often gravitate to great and important consequences.

6. What have been the 3 most helpful resources you've used to maintain the MCS Beacon of Hope Foundation?

Our faith in GOD, and our inner strength and belief in doing what our hearts tells us is the right thing to do.

Listening to experts in the field and realizing that although MCS does exist and deserves recognition that it and so many other illnesses are caused by Toxic exposures/injuries and that no amount of money can deny the fact that “toxic injury/illnesses or toxic poisoning exists”. MSDS sheets and diagnostic codes are already in place for "Toxic Effects of Chemicals" for injury from toxic fumes, vapors, etc.

7. What are the biggest barriers in your own life with MCS and how do you manage them?
The now imposed medically necessary restrictions and limitations and learning to deal with all the isolation.
I have learned to become my own entertainment center, to stay involved with the needs of others and to learn new ways to do the chores that once were so easy to handle and now due to the brain damage, pain and lack of coordination have become so difficult. I also make it a point to find some reason to laugh daily.

8. What are your biggest personal strengths?

Julia and I have always had an inborn desire and commitment to help others, to try and lighten their load, to put a song in their hearts and a smile on their faces. God blessed us both with a great sense of humor and willingness to look for the good in everyone and everything. No matter how bad a chapter in life may be, it is up to each of us to learn from it, leave the pain and sorrow behind and use the wisdom and joys to keep us moving in a positive direction so that we may leave this earth knowing that we have learned much, laughed often, helped many and loved completely! Toxic Injury quickly brings reality into focus for us, and reminds us daily of the difference between our wants and our needs and has made us even more appreciative of the simpler gifts in life!

And you weaknesses?

Not knowing how/when to slow down. It took me a long “l o n g” time to learn that it is ok to say no once in awhile. I still struggle to allow myself a few minutes for self~pampering but Julia reminds me often that it is ok!

9.Where does your inner strength come from during difficult times?

Our strong faith in God sustains us.
I am also blessed to have Julia who has generously made herself available to my endless calls, questions, requests, etc and always seems to know how to kick start me when I am running a little sluggish and has helped me through an endless sea of rough times.
We also know that there is a light at the end of each tunnel . . . and it is not a train racing towards us. Domenic, (my loving husband) and my wonderful parents always believed I could do anything I put my mind to (plus I have been told I am jest a tad hardheaded) ~ go figure! And Julia ~ well she didn't’t fall far from the tree.
My parents also taught me the true meaning of compassion, to care for and about others and to always do my best ~ to leave everyone and every place a little better than when I arrived and this gift I proudly passed on to our children.

10. In one word, how would you describe your life with MCS?


Thank you Peggy and best of luck with your work with MCS Beacon of Hope Foundation.

Our thanks to you!
Your friends in Hope & Health,
Peggy & Julia

Priscilla from USA

Priscilla is the creator of Charcoal Masks by Priscilla and the MCS/EI/CI Information web site.

This is her interview from November 2005.

1. What inspired you to create your masks and web site?

Priscilla: I created the website when I was going through the social security disability process. I wanted to help others through this very difficult ordeal by sharing what I was learning. My masks came later when I became dissatisfied with what I was able to purchase. Basically I'm sharing with others what has helped me.

2. What problems did you want your masks to solve? Were you successful?

Priscilla: I wanted a mask that was more comfortable, and better controlled charcoal dust. I was very successful in dealing with these problems with my new design.

3. What was the process of designing and creating the mask prototype like?

Priscilla: I simply started with what I knew, what I had purchased, and modified those designs. The first ones I made were with hand stitching, then I created a basic pattern and used my sewing machine.

4. What challenges did you encounter while experimenting and how did you overcome them?

Priscilla: The biggest challenge is finding a reliable source for
fabric, elastic and charcoal. I'm always afraid my elastic source will
disappear so I buy in bulk to last months.

5. How has networking with people over the internet impacted your life?

Priscilla: I became disabled with MCS in 1997 but did not get the internet in my home for almost 2 years. The internet has been wonderful for research, sharing, socializing and for selling my products.

6. What drives you to make a difference?

Priscilla: I've always wanted to make a
difference. I've always tried to do a good job and to be self-sufficient.
I'm sure it's due to my spiritual beliefs.

7. What are some of your strengths?

Priscilla: I'm analytical. I set goals and try
to accomplish them. I'm also a good seamstress.

8. What are your 2 main weaknesses?

Priscilla: Marketing can be very difficult for me, but with the internet I've been very pleased to be able to reach customers.
Being sick is, of course, a huge hindrance to my success because I have
very little energy.

9. What advice do you have for other chemically intolerant people who may have ideas for inventions but aren't sure how to take the next step?

Priscilla: Just start slow and pick something that is within your means.

10. What inspires you to keep going during the most difficult times?

Priscilla: My most difficult times are when I'm exhausted, so the best thing for me is to just go to bed and get some solid rest. That typically gives me a fresh outlook for which I'm always grateful.

Thank you for giving me the chance to share my story with others.

Priscilla Farrell

Rosie from USA

Rosie is owner of the MCS Recycle Yahoo group.

This is an interview with her from Oct/2005.

What prompted you to begin the MCS Recycle online group?

Rosie: I’d often seen posts from MCSers asking why there couldn't be an MCS "freecycle" group. I spoke to some list owners who were desperately trying to help a woman who couldn't tolerate her apartment and the poor thing didn't even have a face mask. That woman, her desperate need for a face mask, "made" me start MCSRecycle. It was time to become pro-active. Someone had to start the group and since I'm co-owner of a Houston Freecycle group decided it couldn't be that difficult. Writing the rules was a tad more complicated since MCSRecycle is global rather than local and we do have our special needs. The first post I posted asking for a face mask for her. What wonderful responses we received and now the woman has a face mask thanks to MCSRecycle.

What does the group do and who is a typical member?

Rosie: The purpose of the group is to share safe, non-toxic items with each other on a global scale. Members may post asking for items, offering items or offering items for sale. A typical member would be one with multiple chemical sensitivity.

What challenges did you face after deciding to start the group? How are you overcoming them?

Rosie: Preparing the rules for the group and taking time to write them and post them to the group's home page. Since we are global, rules had to be considered for packaging, shipping and safe packaging materials plus who will pay the postage. I overcame the challenge by making a list, talking to others and polling our members since the group belongs to the members rather than me. I'm just the office staff. Another challenge which has not been overcome is how to increase activity within the group. We do not have many posts for "offers" and I believe one reason is that it's so difficult for us to find safe, non-toxic items and when we do, we are not going to share them. For overcoming this, I don't have an answer.

What advice do you have for someone with MCS who wants to start an internet group?

Rosie: Speak to several others who own yahoo groups before starting your own. Unless its a small, intimate group.

Where do you get your inner strength to live with the challenges of MCS?

Rosie: God. I'm a Christian and without his strength I wouldn't be the pro-active fighter and survivor that I am.

I heard you faced the hurricane in Texas. Can you describe what it was like and what you learned?

Rosie: It was a mind opener showing me how dependent we all are upon our news media to disseminate information, our government officials, our utility companies, retail stores and transport companies. We were all in total shock when we heard there was not a drop of gasoline to be purchased in Houston, no bottled water, no basic food nor basic emergency items such as batteries, flashlights, duct tape, masking tape, etc. Many who wanted could not evacuate due to no gasoline to be purchased and should we have had a serious disaster having to leave our homes we could not have since all the gasoline stations for hundreds of miles from Houston had a gas shortage.

Naturally, not knowing how much damage will be done to our home, our neighborhood and the city was very stressful. Being told a killer hurricane is approaching caused stress, having to prepare and not having the available supplies/food/gasoline to purchase said preparations increased stress. Loss of utilities caused more stress. It's an experience that is not easily forgotten.

Please tell us about a recent MCS-related challenge and how you approached it.

Rosie: Having to possibly evacuate our home pre and post hurricane Rita for safe housing for myself. My husband is not totally "safe" and staying with another MCSer would have been impossible due to my husband's use of toiletries. Finding safe accommodations for me would also have been very difficult. I approached this by asking on the MCS groups if anyone knew of safe shelter. I received a few responses and also husband asked some of his contacts. We were offered a room on a ranch but know this would not have been safe for me.

What are your superpowers (talents?) Don't be shy!

Rosie: Oh, talents/skills. I'm really a very good, well trained herbalist and have good training in nutrition. I love organic gardening and making my own safe toiletries. I’m not bad as a handy woman fixing up things around the house, promoting others and standing up for them when I believe it's necessary, being positive, pro-active, not afraid to speak for the truth

What is your biggest weakness?

Rosie: Wanting to help too many and having too many volunteer activities that don’t leave me enough time to care for myself, our home and my studies. This is a weakness which I must work on.

Who or what inspires you?

Rosie: Seeing so many ill people in this world unable to help themselves (like little children living in a toxic home) or the chronically ill such as MCSers and knowing there are things, even little things, we can do to make their day a little better.

Thanks for your time, Rosie. Good luck with your MCS Recycle group.
Rosie: Thank you for this great honor.