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 Many links and references will be out of date but Barb's research holds up over time.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.


P.O. Box 1155
Larkspur, California, 94977

Support and Information Line
(SAIL) 415.541.5075
A 501 (c) (3) non profit agency


Stuff Happens!

(Unprovoked Hateful-Hurtfuls do happen!
Like MCS, it is not all just in our minds. -- barb)

Chemical Sensitivity IS Real!




Dear Dr. Dean:

    RE: "The power of cognitive therapy is that it recognizes that the illness is real and then teaches the afflicted to handle the symptoms of the illness. If she had cancer, we would advise cognitive therapy to help her deal with the pain that is the major symptom of cancer."

Chemical Sensitivity IS real ... as real as all of the toxic chemicals in those products containing synthetic fragrances, pesticide, carpet fibers, adhesives, ... It is also as real as is tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis, asthma ... Perhaps you've forgotten the sages of yore who claimed those and other illnesses, pellagra for example, as "mental."

Those of us who recognize we are living with chemical injury -- and our astute doctors! -- have learned to handle the symptoms of our illness. We know we must avoid fragrances, pesticides, etc.

Most of us who are chemically injured have been made ill most often by measures beyond our control. We represent all ages, all races, both sexes ... worldwide.

Some of us were injured in our workplace -- or school -- by actions or inactions on the part of our employer or school administration. We have been injured by professionals using pesticides incorrectly. We were injured when we used products according to direction. We were injured when we used products that are sold as benign ... such as fragrances in cleaning and personal care products. We had carpets installed, thinking that we were buying safe products. We used medicines as directed ... had prescribed anesthesia. We trusted our doctors. We trusted living would be better through chemistry. Even those of us who did not use such products, including heavy reliance on drugs and surgery, had to breathe the air that was polluted by the high-emitting VOC (volatile organic compounds) products used by others.

Instead of so easily casting aspersions on those who are the "canaries," I suggest you start studying the very products we say make us ill. According to the California Air Resources Board, they "estimated that the [VOC] emissions from consumer products was about 280 tons per day in 1997. This estimate is based upon: the extensive 1997 Consumer and Commercial Products Survey which included over 14,000 products sold in California grouped in 100 different categories of consumer products; the 1997 aerosol coatings survey; and to a limited extent upon the 1990 U.S. EPA survey data for emissions from numerous small categories, which were not resurveyed in 1997." Fragrances weren't identified for that study, but they are to be in the amended program. How can you possibly state that we need therapy of any description until you know about the phsyical causes of our illness? (I won't even ask how you feel qualified to make such a diagnosis, in the first place.)

The breathing mechanism (respiratory system) is very efficient at getting chemicals into bodies ... into blood streams, across blood-brain barriers, to target organs and store in adipose (fatty) tissue. These chemicals have not been adequately tested for safety before marketing. And our government agencies do not protect us, nor inform us!

I lead a very full life, but one that is as free as possible of fragrance, pesticide, new carpet and paint, etc. My house is safe. My tools for venturing out to the bank, the post office, healthcare facilities, for hikes in the woods, are a respirator and often an oxygen tank. My tools are as important to my accessibility as a wheelchair is to someone who cannot walk. The problem with my tools, however, is that people are not supposed to use a respirator -- or even my type of oxygen setup -- for extended periods of time. Therefore I, and the millions of people like me, are effectively denied access to education, gainful employment, health care, government agencies, etc. By the way, we long ago gave up any thought of enjoying the opera, theater, movies, dinner in a restaurant -- even an outdoor sporting event or a walk in the woods can prove hazardous to our health because of others dependence upon fragrance products, whose chemicals may affect the brain as do alcohol and tobacco. See

The rudeness factor of some folks I encounter is heavily outweighed by all the comments I hear from folks who suffer adverse reactions to fragrances like asthma, sinusitis, laryngitis, migraines or sinus headaches ... I also hear stories of how they know someone near and dear to them, who is now living with chemical injury and suffering from the industry flacks who do great harm by dismissing their many chronic symptoms as "all in the head."

Thank goodness for the web where people can learn they are not "the only one" and that it is not "all in their head." Many august bodies tell one to avoid fragrances because they trigger various illness -- see the Environmental Health Network's "Avoid Fragrances"

Perhaps it's paradigm change time. Remember, YOU noted that air "fresheners" were really air polluters ... air polluters are fragrance products!

From your "Air Fresheners Really Air Polluters;" July 01, 1998

    "END NOTE The experts add, clean indoor air should not smell of anything. If it has a chronic stale, musty or strange smell, it could indicate a problem."
You were on the right track with that advice -- it should not smell of anything! Indoor air should not smell of the latest synthetic fragrance, or pesticide, or paint, or carpet, or ...

Barbara Wilkie
(My convention is prevention)


(Views expressed above reflect only the opinion of Barbara Wilkie and do not reflect
the views of any other individual or organization, such as EHN. -- barb)


Thanks to the internet there is some information available about the toxic chemicals in fragrances. See: The Work of Julia Kendall (1935 - 1997) at

Visit the Fragranced Products Information Network at

Learn, then write. Write!

Write, not only to Edell, but your newspapers, schools, radio and TV news departments . . . government officials, the FDA (Mr. Lark Lambert and Mr. Charles Haynes, EPA (, CPSC ( .

(See EHN petitions the FDA to declare Eternity "misbranded" at:


Return to Stuff Happens!

Go to Act Now!

Move on to Take Heart!


Visit EHN's home page


Reach us by e-mail

(Barb's email is no longer valid, please contact EHN)

For general EHN contact information please visit:

If you have contributions for The New Reactor, please e-mail to (Barb's email is no longer valid, please contact EHN) and put "NR" in the subject line.

Top of page


As with all organizations, EHN depends upon your contributions of time and energy, as well as your monetary membership support. For your conveninece, a mail-in membership/donation form is available at


The URL for this page is



Comments? (Barb's email is no longer valid, please contact EHN). Please put WWW in subject line. Thanks.


Top of page

Return to EHN's homepage (


The Environmental Health Network (EHN) [of California] is a 501 (c) (3) non profit agency and offers support and information for the chemically injured. Learn from the work of Julia Kendall, get The BEST of the Reactor, join EHN and receive The New Reactor. See what influence the Chemical Manufacturers have had against those of us with EI. The URL for this page is