Barb Wilkie's EHN Website
Last updated 2008

EHN Board President Barb Wilkie was very ill from chemically-induced kidney disease for several years. She passed away May 31, 2011. EHN presents this site both as a tribute and as valuable information. Many links and references will be out of date but Barb's research holds up over time. We will be transferring the site page by page, with updated details, to EHN's main site. If you would like to reach an EHN staff person, please contact us directly.



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September 11, 2001

WTC | Air | Donations

Thoughts in the Aftemath | Living With Chemical Injury


I do not define my patriotism by jingoism.
-- Barbara Wilkie, September 2001

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to
stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is
morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt (1918)


A moment of silence. Please.
Daily. Forever.

September 11, 2001. Just the date speaks volumes.

EHN sends our deepest condolences to all who have suffered such horrific losses and trauma.

EHN is sincerely concerned about the immediate and long-term health effects for those who have breathed in the toxic fumes. We applaud the efforts of Cyndi Norman to shed light on the toxic aftermath and provide useful and timely information for those affected by the toxins.

EHN's focus is to help people who are already ill. However, it is our hope that all folks who use our site will have a better understanding of the hidden dangers in our commonly used consumer products. As we know, there ARE alternatives. Our purchases do make a difference in our health . . . and the health of others around us, including the wildlife with whom we share this planet.

The EPA saying the air was safe does not make it so! As we begin to learn more of the horrible health effects of September 11, 2001, we will discover that many of the affected people will have adverse reactions to commonly used consumer products -- those for personal care, as well as for household and janitorial cleaning and maintenance products. Most frequently problematic will be those containing fragrances and pesticides.

- - -

2003 -- September 11, 2001 stays with me. For me, that is just thoughts. Alas, for so many thousands others, that means not only the thoughts, but also the toxins will stay with them. It takes a while for the body to succumb to the effects of the toxins, for the body born healthy always trys to right itself. It wants to be well and healthy. The use of safer products will help your body process out the toxins, but more importantly, is it will reduce the daily assault of superfluous toxins. Your body does not need to breath in or absorb highly volatile toxins emanating from modern synthetic pesticides, flavors and fragrances.

Of course, WTC was so overwhelming, one can only wonder what the ultimate outcome will be for the folks who where thrust into harm's way by terrorists from outside. But what about the harm caused because the people were misinformed by the EPA about the air pollution as a result of burning planes, buildings, contents and dust from the collapsing structures. Secondly, one may wonder if there wasn't a very good reason for an early deadline for applying to the Victim Compensation Fund. In my opinion, that fund should go out 20 years, not two. Two takes care of the immediate: the burns, broken bones, the lacerations. Two years will not rightly take care of compensation due those who suffer from the effects of soft tissue damange to the lungs and other organs.

So, what can anyone of us do? We all can help our bodies -- and the bodies of others around us -- by purchasing safer, cleaner, fragrance-free products; by purchasing organic; by leaving synthetic pesticides on the store shelves. We can think of others -- and ourselves -- when we make our purchases. And, by making purchases of safer products, we will be giving a message to industry that they will listen to . . . or so I hope.

The Internet is home to information that is worth reading. It is also home to information by industry and its apologists. As you read and study, keep in mind just who has what vested interest. Take a look at the multibillion dollar flavors and fragrance industry and the pharmaceutical industry if you need help determining which side of the fragrance-free issue has the vested interest in money. Peruse sites like Steve Tvedten's and the site of my friend and colleague, Betty Bridges, RN and her renowned Fragranced Products Information Network at Also, please explore EHN's site (homepage is to see who has a vested interest in health for themselves, others AND our planet.


    Stop using pesticides -- there are safer alternatives! For a vast array of information, visit Steve Tvedten's Get IPM at

    Read the labels of your personal care products and cleaning and maintenance supplies before purchasing. If you see the word "fragrance" on the label, ask if you are purchasing a product with fragrance derived from petrochemicals. (Remember, according to the Dept. of the Interior, "green" products may not contain petrochemical dervived fragrances.) IF the sales assistant doesn't know the answer, do your own research.

    Look for products made without petrochemicals, look for organics -- this industry is growing and as it grows prices lower. Purchase fragrance-free products . . . a little harder to accomplish because the FDA allows products that carry synthetic scent derived from petrochemicals to carry the words "fragrance-free" or "unscented" on their labels. Look for alternatives to pesticides and disinfectants (classified as pesticides by the EPA).

    Listen to the people whose health has already been compromised by chemical injury. Chemical injury can result from a variety of exposures. For example: Chemical injury and fragrance sensitization could come from a dramatic exposure to a refinery malfunction or blowout or from a fire, or from a disaster such as WTC, or from clean-up of an environmental disaster such as that caused by the wreck of the Exxon Valdez. Chemical injury can result from long-term pharmaceutical use or as an adverse reaction to anesthesia, or from chronic exposure, which would be the result of working with plastics, or chemicals. Chemical injury can also be acquired from something seemingly mundane such as working in an office polluted by a variety of highly volatile scented products used by others for personal care and for cleaning and maintenance chores.

    If you are told that your "personal choice" product is making someone else ill, please believe that individual. Listen to the person and his/her explanation. Look for fragrance-free products and alternatives to your choice of pesticides for pest management. Stop wearing and using your scented products . . . "forgetting" isn't a viable excuse as you could cause untold others very serious reactions, even death. Remember, you can't accomplish clean, fresh or "green" by using air, water and body polluting chemical soups benignly labeled "fragrance."

    What's the personal payoff? Besides feeling good about yourself, you may ultimately be saving your own health, and/or the health of your youngest and oldest family members, friends and colleagues . . . and the wildlife downstream.

    Why do I write about this topic? As I sat resting upon a bench, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with a rather stiff wind blowing from the ocean into my face, I was overcome by the fragrances of men and women passing behind me. One would reason that the wind from the ocean would blow everything away from me, but those chemical soups, benignly called fragrances, can outdo the wind off the Pacific. Now, tell me that an HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) system -- in a school, a healthcare facility, a workplace or any other public venue -- will be able to handle air pollutants such as our modern petrochemically derived fragrances. My experiences in my former workplace and in my current healthcare facility prove otherwise. Perfumes pollute. As do pesticides. That is acknowledged by the The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in their "Common Indoor Air Pollutants" at

    Because I live with chemical injury, and have come to learn a little something about our modern scents released to market without true "thorough testing," I wonder more about the health of the users and their progeny. I'm concerned about the health and quantity of sperm of the men wearing thses chemical soups, about the developing fetuses of the women who did conceive but continue to wear and use "their" scented products. I also am concerned about the health of the children . . . I'm troubled by the fact that we expect our children to learn in an atmosphere polluted by fragrances that contain chemicals that are known or suspected neurotoxins -- brought to the attention of the 99th Congress back in 1986 and still ignored! (Neurotoxins: At Home and the Workplace at

    I'm concerned about our planet, for these chemicals are also found polluting the air in the cities as well as in remote areas, and they have been found polluting the water downstream where they affect fish and wildlife. (EHN's POPs at

    So, stop, look and listen when someone who has been made ill by the WTC -- or other sources of chemical injury, including in your school or workplace -- asks you to change your use of products from scented to safer alternatives. It's a matter of their health and of access. Be courteous. Be accommodating. Your own health may depend upon it. -- barb


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The Environmental Health Network (EHN) [of California] is a 501 (c) (3) non profit agency and offers support and information for the chemically injured. EHN brings you topics on this page that need your immediate attention The URL for this page is