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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Damn, I do not accept that my life is over!

Let me live!

Patrick is 19. His American football gear is in his closet, and in the corner of his room his electric guitar lays on the shelf next to the brilliant lyrics he wrote. His songs have a meaning, not just modified, banal versions of some well-worn songs that were eventually on the top of the charts. No way. Patrick’s music gets down to business and strongly suggests that the songwriter is not a wimp, but instead confident and that he has something significant to say. When Patrick wrote the songs/music, he went to high school, which earlier posed no problem for him, and he enjoyed a life outside of school as well. His buddies were always with him. Life then was to be lived! But now the American football equipment, the guitar, the unfinished recordings, and song books remain on the dusty shelves.

Those were the times

When Patrick lies on his bed in his room it seems like decades since he was with his band buddies on the stage. Sometimes he has flashbacks where he again sees the faces of the girls in front row of the stage, glowing, looking reverently up and so moved by the band’s damn good music. When these flashbacks return, Patrick is reminiscent of the life he used to live. Patrick would like to scream really loud so everyone can hear:

“My body and my pain hold me prisoner. I cannot leave and live like others. A broken body makes me a cripple. It forces me to not always do things that I would like to do. But I want to live.”

Causes and effects

Patrick is sick from chemicals and his body has developed an extreme form of chemical sensitivity (MCS). Some chemicals have the capacity to sensitize the body. In medicine, this is well known that some chemicals like formaldehyde, isocyanates, and some pesticides are able to cause illness. Everything has played a role in Patrick’s current condition. His father was a chemist and had 30 years of contact with chemicals which are capable of damaging genes. No one can define precisely the effects of the countless years of exposures from the not so harmless chemical cocktails where Patrick’s father worked. The fact is, that Patrick’s father, because of work-related health issues, no longer has his health and is seriously ill. Perhaps the house where the family lived also played a role in the illness. Seven times they had high water which left mold on the walls. The walls were washed extensively with chlorine, a highly toxic chemical. Also the wood preservatives in the house could have played a part in Patrick’s state of health.

Others have lived at least

The average age of people who are chemically sensitive, is from 35-45 years, according to studies. There are also sufferers who are much older and some who are still toddlers, but the majority of sufferers had a life before MCS. For Patrick, it’s different:

“Excuse me, I don’t want to offend the others, but the other MCS sufferers were allowed to enjoy prior life experiences (youth, school, training, travel, friends, partnership, etc.), but I was denied everything from the beginning. The best time of life, my youth, has not been granted to me. On the contrary, I am going through hell, but no one is interested, because they do not believe me.”

Ciao buddy

After Patrick broke down completely, the compassion of his buddies and classmates was just great. They came to visit him and provided him with information from school. That gave him the opportunity to continue his school for awhile. When that was no longer possible, he tried getting his education on the internet, via a correspondence school. But now that is over. No more calls, no more visits. Patrick experiences unbearable pain as he feels like he too is covered in dust like his guitar. The girlfriend he had whom he wanted to build a life with, now also lives a life without him, perhaps with someone else. Patrick experiences pain on another level besides just the excruciating physical pain of the illness. He is furious and says:

“I cannot believe that since I’m not out there, I must not be forgotten and do not exist. My struggle must not be in vain.”

“It is hard to accept that everything I have achieved to this point is destroyed.”

“I have resigned myself that I will probably always remain living alone. There is no compassion for this disease. In fact, on the contrary, I am immediately excluded. What girl or young woman is prepared to make such a sacrifice, and how will I even find a person when I need to live a life of isolation? Forget it. This also applies to other friendships as well. ”

“Although various people helped me earlier, now only two friends remain – I’ve always given everything and now … I’m just dropped, since I cannot keep up and have become too annoying or too complicated to all the others.”

To go out at least once

Besides all the bad luck Patrick and his parents experienced in the past, they also lost their most faithful companion too. So Patrick’s mother bought a new dog so that her son has some life in the house and finds some comfort through the love of an animal. The decision was good for the dog and he is very fond of Patrick:

“As much as I would love to be in nature for a couple of hours with our dog for training or just playing only with him, I am not even granted this.”

Simply cut the strings and let the frustration out

If Patrick was frustrated, it was hard to miss. He grabbed his guitar and the sparks were flying as he sang until the walls shook. That has not happened often, but when it did, everyone in the house knew after two minutes. Music is life and a way to express yourself, to let out what the mind has suppressed. But even allowing the frustration and the anger to be let out, is no longer possible for Patrick:

“Playing guitar and singing means so much to me, but my damn body does not even allow that. The muscle weakness and pain again slow me down, and of course, my dream of American football is over.”

MCS means in the worst stage of a “life” in total isolation

Patrick is one of the MCS patients who having a life outside the four walls is impossible. It should not be confused that these people do not want to be, among others, but on the contrary, the wish and desire to do something with other people remains every day around the clock. It is not a psychological problem or fear of people. The body simply gives up when exposed to chemicals. Car exhaust, heater exhaust gases, perfumed people, houses, from which wafts the cleaning products. All chemical cocktails present a difficulty for chemically sensitive people to have a chance to move about.

A short contact with the outside world means having extreme pain, seizures, difficulty breathing, collapse, or unconsciousness. The same applies for visiting. If someone comes to visit, the joy for Patrick can quickly lead to disaster. The deodorants or residues from the dry cleaners in the jacket, fabric softeners, which cannot be totally washed out will make the visit impossible. Utter nonsense? Not at all. Who will make the effort to find appropriate ingredients for “everyday products” that will bring about severe consequences for a man whose body is hypersensitive? What companies will makes the effort to accommodate hypersensitive individuals as they produce products? Not even most doctors will attempt to understand this chemical hypersensitivity. This is due partly out of ignorance, because they have never heard of the disease, and simply because they lack time to investigate further. And if doctors are not smart and declare the disease as a quirk of convenience, how can ordinary people understand those with MCS?

Patrick’s opinion on MCS:

“MCS is the worst disease out there; sometimes I wish I was a paraplegic. I know this sounds harsh, but I would not be so isolated, left alone, not credible, and would have no pain. I could travel in spite of this handicap, going almost everywhere, going to concerts, meeting friends, and possibly make training, and, and. “

The whole family is ruined

Patrick’s parents are willing to do anything for their son, so he can have his life back. But MCS is too complex to just fight the disease with medicine and a few natural remedies. One must start by establishing a clean living environment. Patrick and his father would need a living space that is chemical-and mold-free as much as possible. But how do you implement that? The house in which they have is hard to change due to the financial loss due to his father’s illness.

Help from authorities? No

Patrick should actually have a good case for the authorities to help, but because he has no education, there is no funding, no basic security, which is humiliating for the young man. His mother says:

“We get help from nowhere, in fact, it is quite the opposite. We are harassed by authorities and they make demands on Patrick which he cannot satisfy. Anyone who can count to three must see that. But nobody takes the trouble to look at the misery, instead, decisions are made that are devoid of any humanity. Yes, Patrick virtually exists only on the card. This illness ruined my two men and those who might know how to help and change things for us, look away too easily! ”

“Many people ask me, how has this total isolation been for over the last two years? They say to me, “I would go mad …. I would go crazy … I imagine the bad, and, and …” They also ask, “Where does Patrick, or where do you get the strength to keep going?”

The response from Patrick’s mother: “You can see that Patrick lives and we also manage. Somehow we are probably fighting spirits and do what we try to be bold, brave, and strong willed to survive. The struggle for justice makes us stronger. “That’s what Patrick’s mother says to the outside world, but inside she often thinks, how long does will the body last, like the heart muscle. Every day she must be available around the clock for her men. Every day is actually a struggle for survival, for Patrick, as well as his father.

Optional: a human decision

That which was given to Patrick and his parents since March 2009, is staggering. His parents submitted an application to determine his level of disability. Now a court ruling says that the 19-year-old man who is suffering from unbearable pain all day, and reactions to chemicals must go into a hospital. The hospital has assured the court that it is equipped for emergencies so there shouldn’t be any problems.

  • What if he’s there and collapses completely? Who bears the responsibility for him then?
  • Who pays to stay in a hospital environment abroad, because in Germany there is no help?
  • Can a normal emergency procedure help him to bounce back?
  • What if not?

There are no environmentally controlled hospitals for MCS patients in Germany. No hospitals can assure a complete freedom from chemical exposures at all. The hospital rooms discussed in a previous CSN article which are in Hamburg for the environmentally ill, are still not in full operation and they are also only for medical intervention, not for environmental treatment. Thus Patrick’s health would possibly be further compromised by this current court ruling the way it now stands.

So far, instead of support costs caused

Administrative expenses have already cost a fortune for Patrick, a 19 year old, with unbroken will to live. Legally, there is the possibility of seriously ill people remaining in their homes, and being examined within the safety of their own four walls. For Patrick, allowing this would be an act of humanity. This young man wants nothing more than for his disability to be determined. His disability and disease are detected nowhere better than in his own home where everyone can see with their own eyes what the illness actually means for Patrick and his family.

Authors: Silvia Müller and K. Kira, CSN – Chemical Sensitivity Network, 9 July 2011

Translation: Christi Howarth

Note: Patrick’s documents are complete before CSN.

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Environmental diseases are not unexplained mysteries

More attention needed to the disease factor in indoor pollutants

The awareness of the importance of uncontaminated food and pollution-free products in everyday life is growing worldwide. People are striving for a healthy and unpolluted living environment. Especially noteworthy are efforts that have been observed recently in Norway. In this Scandinavian country, efforts are prioritized to protect children, particularly against pollutants and allergens. One of the most active pioneers is Kjell Aas, a retired professor who supports the Norwegian Asthma and Allergy Association, with his profound knowledge. This scientist is anxious to clear ignorance about environmental and pollution-related diseases. He clarifies the facts to the authorities and population in ways which are understandable.

Environmental diseases are not mysteries, but scientifically explainable

For many people it is still difficult to understand that polluted air can also cause health problems or symptoms beyond just the respiratory tract. Research has delivered to us today only fragmentary explanations, but there are some entirely understandable explanations and solid scientific evidence of things not delivered to us, which Kjell Aas tries to make as general knowledge for the public.

The scientist Kjell Aas said, “Medical science has not yet managed to explore all the biochemical mechanisms behind the disease. The same goes for the so-called environmental diseases, such as hyperactivity, migraines, and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). To think that these environmental illnesses are something mysterious or inexplicable, or even that they are psychologically conditioned is just incorrect. This can be explained by one or more biochemical reactions. Both the physical and mental functions and activities are regulated by more or less complex chemical processes. The reactions are dependent on the dose and individual tolerance levels.”

Individual biochemistry sets the pace

“From a scientific aspect,” says Kjell Aas, “one must internalize that our internal biochemistry relies on the smooth functioning of a variety of cells with specific receptors and signal systems operating, and upon thousands of enzymes and co-enzymes. These biochemical processes can lead inhibitory and stimulatory mechanisms and integrated “amplifier systems” to gain significant effects.”

Kjell Aas says that the following is important for the public to realize, “Every person is an individual with his/her own individual biochemistry. A few milligrams of cocaine can change the personality and emotional life of an individual,” says the scientist, and continues, “or imagine alcohol having the same affect on the population, but as everyone knows, the tolerance threshold is different for each unique individual.”

The air we breathe daily

The scientist points out in his illustrative design, that adults consume 12 to 15 kg of air per day, and those gaseous chemicals are in the air we breathe, in a more or less high concentrations. Some of these gases combine with others, making them more harmful. These include ozone and other gases that lead to oxidation processes.

In addition, we take in particles in the air we breathe each day without ceasing. We breathe millions of fine particulate matter every hour of every day. These include chemical substances that are associated with the particulate matter which are in a position to pass as easily as breathing gases, and to move fully into blood, lymph and tissue fluid, the researcher points out.

Children are not little adults

Kjell Aas thinks special attention should focus on improving the current situation for children. He justifies this by saying that children can tolerate very little and will get sick easily from chemicals. “We have a variety of cells in our body,” the scientist explained, “all based on chemicals. The chemicals must agree to allow the cells to function properly and then the body will not get sick. ”

The Norwegian elaborated his statement and says, “If an unwanted chemical substances are inhaled, then the chemical balance is upset and so are the cells, and thus we get sick. The cells are blocked by these unwanted chemicals and cannot send out important chemical messengers responsible for our health.”

“Who exactly needs to understand these statements?” Kjell Aas wonders. It is important for all of us to realize the significant consequences for children, in particular, whose bodies are still under construction and development. This enlightenment is exactly what Kjell Aas hopes to awaken in all of us in hopes that we all begin to act accordingly. The Norwegians therefore ask in conclusion that we should internalize the following important fact:

“The air in a room which is acceptable for children, it is also acceptable for adults, but indoor air which is not acceptable for adults, can already make children ill.”


Silvia K. Müller, CSN – Chemical Sensitivity Network, Alena Jula, Just Nature, July 1, 2011

Translation: Christi Howarth

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Scented consumer products shown to emit many unlisted chemicals

University of Washington

For Immediate Release

Oct. 26, 2010

The sweet smell of fresh laundry may contain a sour note. Widely used fragranced products – including those that claim to be “green” – give off many chemicals that are not listed on the label, including some that are classified as toxic.

A study led by the University of Washington discovered that 25 commonly used scented products emit an average of 17 chemicals each. Of the 133 different chemicals detected, nearly a quarter are classified as toxic or hazardous under at least one federal law. Only one emitted compound was listed on a product label, and only two were publicly disclosed anywhere. The article is published online today in the journal Environmental Impact Assessment Review.

“We analyzed best-selling products, and about half of them made some claim about being green, organic, or natural,” said lead author Anne Steinemann, a UW professor of civil and environmental engineering and of public affairs. “Surprisingly, the green products’ emissions of hazardous chemicals were not significantly different from the other products.”

More than a third of the products emitted at least one chemical classified as a probable carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and for which the EPA sets no safe exposure level.

Manufacturers are not required to disclose any ingredients in cleaning supplies, air fresheners or laundry products, all of which are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Neither these nor personal care products, which are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, are required to list ingredients used in fragrances, even though a single “fragrance” in a product can be a mixture of up to several hundred ingredients, Steinemann said.

So Steinemann and colleagues have used chemical sleuthing to discover what is emitted by the scented products commonly used in homes, public spaces and workplaces. The study analyzed air fresheners including sprays, solids and oils; laundry products including detergents, fabric softeners and dryer sheets; personal care products such as soaps, hand sanitizers, lotions, deodorant and shampoos; and cleaning products including disinfectants, all-purpose sprays and dish detergent. All were widely used brands, with more than half being the top-selling product in its category.

Researchers placed a sample of each product in a closed glass container at room temperature and then analyzed the surrounding air for volatile organic compounds, small molecules that evaporate off a product’s surface. They detected chemical concentrations ranging from 100 micrograms per cubic meter (the minimum value reported) to more than 1.6 million micrograms per cubic meter.

The most common emissions included limonene, a compound with a citrus scent; alphapinene and beta-pinene, compounds with a pine scent; ethanol; and acetone, a solvent found in nail polish remover. All products emitted at least one chemical classified as toxic or hazardous.

Eleven products emitted at least one probable carcinogen according to the EPA. These included acetaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, formaldehyde and methylene chloride. The only chemical listed on any product label was ethanol, and the only additional substance listed on a chemical safety report, known as a material safety data sheet, was 2-butoxyethanol.

“The products emitted more than 420 chemicals, collectively, but virtually none of them were disclosed to consumers, anywhere,” Steinemann said. Because product formulations are confidential, it was not possible to determine whether a chemical came from the product base, the fragrance added to the product, or both.

Tables included with the article list all chemicals emitted by each product and the associated concentrations, although do not disclose the products’ brand names. “We don’t want to give people the impression that if we reported on product ‘A’ and they buy product ‘B,’ that they’re safe,” Steinemann said. “We found potentially hazardous chemicals in all of the fragranced products we tested.”

The study establishes the presence of various chemicals but makes no claims about the possible health effects. Two national surveys published by Steinemann and a colleague in 2009 found that about 20 percent of the population reported adverse health effects from air fresheners, and about 10 percent complained of adverse effects from laundry products vented to the outdoors. Among asthmatics, such complaints were roughly twice as common.

The Household Product Labeling Act, currently being reviewed by the U.S. Senate, would require manufacturers to list ingredients in air fresheners, soaps, laundry supplies and other consumer products. Steinemann says she is interested in fragrance mixtures, which are included in the proposed labeling act, because of the potential for unwanted exposure, or what she calls “secondhand scents.”

As for what consumers who want to avoid such chemicals should do in the meantime, Steinemann suggests using simpler options such as cleaning with vinegar and baking soda, opening windows for ventilation, and using products without any fragrance.

“In the past two years, I’ve received more than 1,000 e-mails, messages, and telephone calls from people saying: ‘Thank you for doing this research, these products are making me sick, and now I can start to understand why,’” Steinemann said.


Steinemann is currently a visiting professor in civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University. Co-authors are Ian MacGregor and Sydney Gordon at Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio; Lisa Gallagher, Amy Davis and Daniel Ribeiro at the UW; and Lance Wallace, retired from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The research was partially funded by Seattle Public Utilities.


University of Washington, Hannah Hickey, Release: Scented consumer products shown to emit many unlisted chemicals,Oct. 26, 2010

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Study could not confirm link between mental illness and chemical sensitivity

For several years the Swedish Prof. Dr. Eva Millqvist researched the disease of hyperreactivity of the respiratory tract and the environmental condition of Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). She specializes in the range of responses to respiratory irritants.

Sick from odors and fragrances

Patients with respiratory symptoms which are triggered by chemicals and odors, are commonly found in allergy clinics. According to Millqvist and her team, these health problems are not explained by asthma or allergic reactions.

German patients frequently report that after they report reactions to chemicals or odors to their allergist, the prospect of seeing a psychologist has been recommended. Whether or not this recommendation is actually appropriate for these patients, it is precisely what this new study from Sweden addresses.

Studies showed reactions

Millqvist’s previous studies have shown that MCS patients often have an increased sensitivity to inhaled capsaicin. This ingredient of chili is famous sensory reactivity. A diagnosis of sensory hyperreactivity of the airways (SHR) is proposed for these kinds of complaints.

In a recent study this renowned scientist and two colleagues, sought to discover whether there is a relationship between asthma and sensory hyperreactivity (SHR). In addition, the research team wanted to investigate whether patients with signs of SHR had increased psychiatric morbidity (anxiety, depression, etc.).

Patients were subjected to tests and questionnaires

The researchers took 724 patients with suspected allergies or asthma from an asthma center. All patients had a questionnaire regarding reactions and behavioral disorders caused by fragrant substances.

A standardized Capsaicin test was carried out and then a questionnaire was given to assess psychiatric morbidity in patients with severe chemical sensitivity to identify those who suffer from SHR.

No evidence of depression or anxiety

Only about 6% of the asthma patients from the allergy center, who participated in the study, had sensory hyperreactivity (SHR). Millqvist and her colleagues stated that this is in consistent with the prevalence in the general Swedish population. There was no significant evidence that SHR is consistent with anxiety or is related to depression.

Patients should insist on precise diagnostic evaluation

The study appeared in the July 2010 issue of the medical journal “Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.” Those patients who respond to chemicals and odors with hyperreactive respiratory symptoms should perhaps seek an experienced environmental medicine professional if their allergist makes a reference to the possibility of a mental illness.

Author: Silvia K. Müller, CSN – Chemical Sensitivity Network, 2. September 2010.

Translation: Thank’s to Christi Howarth.


Johansson A, Millqvist E, Bende M., Relationship of airway sensory hyperreactivity to asthma and psychiatric morbidity, Department of Respiratory Medicine, Central Hospital, Skövde, Sweden, Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2010 Jul; 105(1):20-3.