An icon of environmental medicine visits Germany

Evidence for the causes of environmental diseases have been around for a long time

The doctor and scientist Doris Rapp is one of those who not only practice environmental medicine, but has also made environmental medicine the most important thing in her life. The American spent two weeks in Germany. The reunion with Prof. Rapp was very productive and we were lucky enough to spend a beautiful day on the Moselle. Here is a small summary.

Researcher documented environmental disease

I met Prof. Rapp for the first time at a congress in Bad Emstal about 18 years ago. It was a crucial experience. In her presentation, she showed a video about a teacher who became ill from contaminated carpeting in the school. The teacher was filmed during a reaction to contaminated dust from the carpet. This video vividly conveys to the viewer what MCS is and what a reaction can look like. At that time I was at the very beginning of my own illness and had had similar reactions to certain pesticides. The teacher experienced convulsions and fell unconscious. I thought “my goodness, that’s me, that’s exactly like me, that’s what you have…“ After the lecture I spoke with Prof. Rapp and that was the beginning of an ongoing exchange of information and an interesting friendship. We met again at conferences in Germany, Holland and in the U.S., visited each other in Germany and the United States and exchanged e-mails. When I visited her in Scottsdale, she showed me one of her video archives. She had stored thousands of videos of children whom she had treated. They showed the patients during and after therapy and during testing of foods, mold, pollen, dust mites or chemicals. They displayed impressive evidence that can remove any last doubts as to the existence of environmental illnesses and allergies.

We can no longer ignore environmental illnesses

Dr. Binz and his wife invited the environmental doctor for this most recent visit to Germany. We had actually arranged to meet for a trip along the Moselle, which would start before lunch. We had a warm reunion and before we knew it we had already exchanged information and ideas and were in the midst of planning for future projects.

“I’m over 80 years old now and have no children, I don’t really need to be doing all this and I could be enjoying my peace at this age, but I see what’s going on, and I simply cannot remain silent. We have so many chemicals in our environment, in the food we eat, in the water we drink and the air that we are constantly breathing. They affect each of our body systems and we can no longer ignore this. Almost every second person in my country has cancer and that is just not acceptable”, says Doris Rapp.

“The politicians and the public must realize the impact the flood of chemicals has on us and no one should keep insisting that we do not know where all the increasing diseases that occur are coming from. The evidence is there. We have animal testing to prove it. That’s why, as a doctor, I ask: How much more has to happen before we admit to the real causes? I won’t accept hearing when one says, “Yes, but there’s nothing we can do about it.” Yes, there is, because you can educate yourself and there’s a hell of a lot you can do,” says Prof Rapp, who is enraged about the current situation.

Solutions are often very simple

Prof. Rapp is no one who can be at odds with the world and ignore the solutions. She is in the process of writing another book. “It will be a small book, only 30 pages. Every reader can easily understand how he/she can shape his environment in order to stay healthy. The tips in this book will not cost anyone a fortune, they can easily be implemented without major expense. It will help anyone who wants to change something and wants to improve his health. The doctor cites two examples:

“Many people react to foods, but are not sure towards which foods. Expensive tests are not necessary. I advise people to think about what they eat most, foods that they downright crave. Experience has shown that these are the foods that are eaten every day and most likely those which cause reactions. The solution: omit the suspected food for a week. You can test one food after another. This costs nothing! ”

“Some people live in a house that is contaminated with pollutants or contaminated by mold. My experience is that five out of seven people can improve their health by 70% if they obtain a high quality air cleaner that is capable of filtering hundreds of chemicals from the air in your home. Such a device may cost a bit, but I have often seen patients who got better over night. So it’s worth it if you are unable to directly move out of the apartment or house.”

The new book will be published this year, and Professor Rapp has authorized me to translate it into German. She also gave me permission to translate videos and other books into our language, contributing knowledge to allergy sufferers and chemically sensitive people in the German-speaking countries, helping them to find a way back into life.

A trip along the Moselle

During the drive to the historic Moselle wine village, Bernkastel, to Traben-Trabach and the drive back to Trier, Prof. Rapp was bursting with innovative ideas that we will begin to put into action in the next few months and they will benefit the environmentally ill in many ways.

Author: Silvia K. Müller, CSN – Chemical Sensitivity Network, 12 September 2011

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Hamburg hospital offers rooms for patients with MCS and environmental illness

After much effort, the Agaplesion Diakonie Hospital in Hamburg, Germany has designed two rooms for people with MCS and multiple allergies. For many years, local support groups have worked tirelessly to try to integrate environmentally controlled hospital rooms in the hospital. For the first time ever, it is possible for people who suffer from environmental illnesses or severe allergies to be in a hospital for medical treatment which is tailored to their health issues.

Environmental rooms for MCS, the environmentally ill, and multiple allergic patients

Since February 2011, with the move into the newly built Agaplesion DIAKONIE Medical Center in Hamburg (formerly the hospitals, Old Oaks, and Bethany Elim), for the first time, a hospital has two special pollutant free rooms prepared for those with environmental allergies, and MCS patients. The special environmental rooms have been built with much care. They consist of a single and a double room. Both rooms are connected by a vestibule from the other station areas separated so that chemical-sensitive patients do not come in contact with the usual hospital chemicals and fragrances from other patients.

Medical treatment, surgery, obstetrics

The Agaplesion Clinic offers the two environmental rooms which have been specially prepared for the treatment of patients in the medical environment including the following hospital departments in the with an integrated spectrum:

  • Internal Medicine
  • Geriatrics (geriatric medicine)
  • Diabetes
  • Surgery, Hand Surgery, Plastic Surgery
  • Gynecology, Obstetrics
  • Orthopedics
  • Anasthesia, Intensive Care

Criteria for inclusion in Environmental Room

There is a briefing which takes place through a doctor or the emergency room. During the first contact a message states that the patient wants a shot in the environmental room. The Agaplesion Clinic requires patients have medical evidence showing MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity), environmental allergies / intolerance (allergy multi-) and / or a present a chronic intoxication in the patient. A MCS and / or allergy passport is also useful to explain the need for inclusion in a special room environment.

Core Unit of the Environment Room

Rooms in conventional hospitals are not suitable for chemically sensitive patients. In general, the wards have PVC flooring and particleboard furniture. The environmental rooms in the Agaplesion Clinic have given much effort to create a plan that recognizes the needs of MCS sufferers with good air quality issues. The two environmental rooms were built with the low emission of air pollutants / safe building materials and furnishings, to ensure the safety for hypersensitive patients.

Some examples of the special features of the environmental room:

  • Walls and ceilings with running Fermacell Green Line plates
  • Massive exterior walls are lime
  • Walls and ceilings painted with lime paint
  • Rooms are equipped with a wall heater
  • Floor is made of ceramic tiles.
  • Window and door frames are insulated with hemp
  • Doors are made of glass
  • Exposure to electromagnetic fields has been reduced, including through the installation of power circuit breakers
  • Furniture is made of enamel, metal, or stainless steel

The clinic staff shall ensure low-emission patient care:

  • Attention is given to see if there are fragrance-containing and damaging products in patient vicinity.
  • Patients are asked about their possible food intolerances to allergies, to drugs, disinfectants, medicines and anesthetics.
  • A dietitian takes into account the patients’ food intolerances
  • At the medical station information is summarized, and this can be viewed at any time by medical staff.
  • The staff of the station is working together very closely with the support group „environmental illnesses MCS + CFS.”
  • The room environment is cleaned with fragrance free detergents, but a disinfecting cleaning is essential to neutralize odors, so the patient is offered the use of effective microorganisms (EM 1).
  • When necessary, patients may bring their own food which is kept in a refrigerator at the door. A kettle is also available there.
  • The bedding of the entire hospital is fragrance-free but these patients are permitted to bring their own bedding.

Special measures for the benefit of environmental patients

  • The use of fragrance-free and low-polluting products is offered to patients and their visitors
  • The use of cell phones and smoking are not permitted in this area
  • Living together requires all patients in the environmental room practice understanding, respect and helpfulness

Hospital life – side note

Important information for environmental patients and their physicians, that the Agaplesion Clinic is a hospital and not an environmental clinic. In a hospital procedures are regulated and special requests cannot be met. The Agaplesion Clinic breaks new ground by providing the two environmental rooms. The employees are trained on MCS and environmental illness, but they are dependent on cooperation between the patients, so that a smooth clinical work can be guaranteed. Perhaps at first patients won’t have the highest satisfaction, but patients should be understanding and possibly contribute constructive suggestions for improvement since this is the first attempt at providing environmentally safe rooms in a hospital. It is important for patients with chemical sensitivity (MCS) to realize that this is a new development at the clinic. For those with hyper-sensitivities, a stay at the hospital, despite careful selection of materials, initially may be fraught with problems because of outgassing and ecological matters.

The Chemically Sensitive are thankful for their commitment

The MCS support groups in Hamburg, which for years pursued the goal of a “MCS-friendly hospital room in a hospital” give hearty thanks and appreciation to the doctors, hospital planners, architects and government agencies that were involved in this project. All the best and much success for the safe environment in the new rooms at the Agaplesion Clinic!

Author: Silvia K. Müller, CSN – Chemical Sensitivity Network, 1 March 2011

Translation: Christi Howarth


Agaplesion Diakonie Hospital Hamburg, newsletter: environmental rooms for MCS patients and the environment / multiple allergies, January 2011


Agaplesion DIAKONIE Hospital Hamburg

Hohe Weide 17, 20259 Hamburg, Germany, Tel: (040) 7 90 20 – 0, Fax (040) 7 90 20 – 10 79, E-mail:, Internet:

Further CSN articles about MCS:

Participatory Action: Help Your Local Santa Claus and the Sick Children in Your Area

A Real Santa Claus Does Not Wear Perfume

Santa has an ear for the needs of all children, including children with allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivity (MCS). Santas are always open to hear everything a child desires, meaning their secrets, worries and concerns. For many children this seasonal private talk with Santa is an important event when they can privately disclose what is really on their mind.

So this year we wish that all children, including those who suffer from allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivity (MCS), will have the opportunity to whisper something special into Santa’s ear. We have designed an action card for printing. (The best way to print the cards out is on more solid paper or light cardboard).

And because Santa Claus is known for really loving ALL children, with some help, we can make sure every Santa Claus may share the Christmas warmth with every child. Hand the Santa a Christmas card, asking them to give up after-shave, cologne, fabric softener, strong smelling deodorant, and other fragrances this season. Whisper in the ear of the Santa Claus when presentating the card, that this small favor of being fragrance free will make all children’s hearts and eyes glow with gratitude.


The real Santa Claus does not wear perfume, because he loves all children. Even those with asthma, allergies, or chemical sensitivity.


Spanish Action Card >> El verdadero Papá Noel no usa Colonia

German Action Card >> Der echte Weihnachtsmann trägt kein Parfüm

Facts about Perfume, Scented Products:

New blood test for newborns to detect allergy risk

A simple blood test can now predict whether newborn babies are at high risk of developing allergies as they grow older, thanks to research involving the University of Adelaide.

Professor Tony Ferrante, an immunologist from SA Pathology and the Children’s Research Centre at the University of Adelaide, says the new marker may be the most significant breakthrough in allergy testing for some decades.

“A protein in the immune cells of newborns appears to hold the answer as to whether a baby will either be protected, or susceptible to the development of allergies later on,” Professor Ferrante says.

Amounts of the cell signalling protein, called protein kinase C zeta, are much lower in children at risk of allergies.

Professor Ferrante says the blood test is far more effective than previous indicators, such as a family’s clinical history, or measuring the allergy-inducing antibody IgE.

In collaboration with Professor Susan Prescott from the University of Western Australia and Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Professor Ferrante’s research team has refined the new marker for allergy risk, originally discovered in 2007, but now modified to a simple and manageable blood test at birth.

The researchers are also looking at whether fish oil supplements given to both pregnant women and those who have just given birth can reduce the risks of the children developing allergies.

“There is evidence that the levels of this important protein increase with fish oil supplementation to protect against allergy development,” Professor Ferrante says.

Australia has one of the highest allergy rates in the world, with 40% of children now suffering from allergic diseases, including food allergies, eczema, asthma and hay fever. These conditions frequently persist into adulthood, placing a heavy burden on the healthcare system.

Literature: The University of Adelaide, New blood test for newborns to detect allergy risk, 21 May 2010

Open Letter: Perfumed Stamps Constrain People with Disabilities

Postage stamps with aroma could affect the health of sensitive people

On January 7th, German Minister of Finance, Dr.Schaeuble, presented the new charity postage stamps to Federal President Horst Koehler and Ms. Donata Freifrau Schenck zu Schweinsberg, President of the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft der Freien Wohlfahrtspflege (a federal association of welfare organizations). The unique feature of these stamps for this year is: They are fruit scented – blueberry, strawberry, lemon and apple. The scenting agents are micro-encapsulated and are not supposed to be released until they are rubbed.

The perfumed stamps release a scent even without being rubbed

CSN wanted to know whether the stamps really do not smell until being rubbed and arranged to get samples of the scented stamps. As we asked to buy the new charity stamps, the lady behind the post office counter pulled out an extra folder and remarked almost devoutly, “Oh yes, this are the new perfumy stamps.” She took out a sheet of stamps which showed blueberries and delightedly announced: “Wow, these really can be smelled without rubbing!”

Two welfare stamps were purchased by CSN and examined carefully. Both stamps give off a smell without being rubbed with the finger. Strictly speaking, the strawberry-stamp emits the smell of a cheap toothpaste with strawberry flavor, and the odor of the lemon stamps are a reminder of a toilet cleaner with an artificial lemon aroma. It smells nothing like a natural fruit aroma. The lemon scent grew stronger after the stamp was left at room temperature for a short while. CSN refused to activate the odor by rubbing. It can be assumed that the smell of the stamps will grow by the inevitable friction of the letters during transport and by running them through the sorting system at the postal hubs. Therefore it is quite possible that the perfumed stamps will contaminate other mail.

CSN would like to know if the applied scents were tested for their health compatibility, and which safety criteria and methods they used for the tests. Was their safety criteria the tolerable toxic load for an average healthy adult or was it the tolerable toxic load for the weakest, i.e. for an embryo? Did they test the plain aroma agents or the printing ink equipped with the aroma? Has the material of the stamp an effect on the compatibility? The information of the Bundesdruckerei (German federal printing press) suggests that first amounts of the scents were emitted before even the printing process was completed.

People with asthma, allergy to scents, sensitivities to chemicals, and persons who respond severely to scents could be affected by this advertising stunt.

As an answer, at January 11, CSN wrote the following open letter:

Perfumed Postage Stamps Constrain People with Disabilities

Dear Mr. Federal President Dr. Horst Koehler,

Dear Ms. Frau Donata Freifrau Schenck zu Schweinsberg,

Dear Dr. Wolfgang Schaeuble,

On January 7th, you shared the presentation of the new charity stamps issued by the Ministry of Finance, which emit scents of apple, strawberry, blueberry and lemon when rubbed. We want you to think about that at first glance simpatico idea, and we politely request you Dr. Schaeuble, to withdraw these postage stamps from circulation as Minister of Finance, because there are groups of people with certain disabilities and health disorders, who would be at risk if exposed to these scents.

Wouldn’t it be ironic, if some of those people who should benefit from these charity stamps will be harmed, by putting them in circulation? Do you realize the critical position of the German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA/Umweltbundesamt) regarding scents? The UBA points out that scented products should be avoided in public areas. The German coalition for allergies and asthma the DAAB (Deutscher Allergie- und Asthmabund e.V.) assumes about 11 percent of general population, that was actually a good nine million cases, affected by olfactory hypersensitivity for scents (according to Meggs et al. 1996). They postulate warning signs for scented rooms.

Is it appropriate to characterize those as people with disabilities who respond to scents with health troubles?

According to the ‘Americans with Disabilities Act’ (ADA), an individual with a disability is defined as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.

The ‘Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ (UN-convention) which was signed by the German government on March 30, 2007, defines persons with disabilities as those, who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

Perfumed postage stamps limit the lifestyle of allergic, asthmatic, chemically diseased and other sensitive persons in an unreasonable way. This violates the UN-convention and does not meet the protection criteria set out for people with disabilities as outlined by the ADA. Severe sensitive cases and those who suffer from contact allergies caused by scents don’t even need to smell traces of those contaminants. Unsuspecting they will contaminate their living space which often is prepared safe from toxins under difficult financial conditions.

Thus far, people with health impairments from scents were able to at least receive and open their mail without help from others. This autonomy and normality of life is taken away from them. If someone encounters physical reactions by being exposed to scents, he/she will become unable to receive mail any longer and has to depend on other people to sort this type of ‘mail bomb’ out. Possibly a whole delivery is lost because one single letter with a perfumed postage stamp has contaminated all other mail.

During the Christmas season of 2004 there was a similar campaign with perfumed scratch stickers. Contrary to the statement of a German mail service personnel, the scents are not securely locked in the ink. None can be sure that somebody rubs the stamps on the dispatch or mechanical interaction will release these substances. At that time when the mail arrived it was already fragrant and it will be again this time.

Potentially such deliveries could sensitize people who have not suffered from an allergy yet. Have the applied scents adequately been tested for that risk? Would you bet your life on their harmlessness? Did you know that most of the scents used in Germany are not tested for tolerance? According to the “Special Report on Allergies, 2000″ (“Spezialbericht Allergien, 2000″) by the German Federal Government, there are about 15 to 25 percent of general population affected by an atopic disease, that was over 20 million cases, and one-third are sensitized for allergies, that was about 27 million. Should not everything be done, to keep this data from growing?

Scents trigger a variety of physical reactions for people with this sensitivity. Depending on disease and state of health, they range from harmless irritations to life threatening conditions. The following troubles can be caused individually or in combinations:

Tiredness, sneezing, irritated eyes, redness, itching, blisters, inflammations, swelling and burning of the lips, nasal mucosa burning, burning of the tongue, toothache, cough, voice failure, labored breathing, vertigo, sickness, headache, migraine, speech disorder, disturbance of memory, permanent painful vomiting, cardialgia, tachycardia, state of shock, absence, coma.

Often, such an incident increases the sensitivity for other substances or undoes a recovery which was hardly achieved by a strategy of avoidance and healthy living over a long period.

If nothing else, artificial scents could disturb the aesthetic perception of healthy ones and never reach the sensuality of their prototypes. Lay some apples from an organic farmer in your bedroom and compare it with the odor from these stamps.

Considering all of the above, we request, that the health damage which may be expected for those people in the general population who are sensitized by scents be recognized and, as under the terms of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, that the circulation of these perfumed postage stamps be immediately stopped.

Kind regards,

Silvia K. Mueller, Bruno Zacke

CSN – Chemical Sensitivity Network


We thank Christi and Jim for translation help.