Now I Understand Environmental Illness
- a Letter to the Editor -
UPdate Fall 1997

Dear Editor,
     My wife and her friends have been involved with your organization for some time now.  This has given me the opportunity to peruse your magazine in its several varieties.  Even with my exposure to your compelling articles and often tragic tales of struggle that many inflicted with EI have undergone, I have never fully understood the concept of Environmental Illness.

     Most unfortunately, I am now fully aware of how one can become sick as a result of their environment.  Not simply the obvious allergies to off-gassing carpets or molds from bacteria in the air ducts that provide our very most basic need; breathable air.  My Environmental Illness was much subtler than that.  I grew up in a house where three other people smoked, and therefore placed no connection on having to use a puffer at the ago of 30 with working in an office where someone smoked three packs of cigarettes a day.  I had been exposed to large amounts of second hand smoke all of my life, why would this now be the cause of my respiratory problems? Furthermore, wouldn’t this be like admitting a weakness to something that others could obviously withstand? How terribly un-manly of me, the shame of it!

     Tragically my co-worker died of a massive heart-attack, no doubt partly caused by his smoking.  In time I stopped needing my puffer, as he was the only smoker in the office, the connection became obvious, even for someone that must appear dull witted to the rest of you.  My affliction does no compare with the complete breakdown of the immune system that many of your readers suffer with, indeed, my complaints seem paltry and that is not the reason for my letter.  My sole purpose is to hopefully have others read this a perhaps come to the realization that no matter what the governments, insurance companies and closed minded physicians may think and say, yes there truly is such a thing as Environmental Illness.  It is subtle and insidious, it strikes people with no warning.  It attacks people from the things they had previously put their trust in such as the scores in the medical and dental professions afflicted by this hidden beast.  As surely as Black Lung is now recognized as a direct result of working in coal mines, we must now recognize that the chemicals and artificial environments so many of us spend our time in and around are affecting our entire society.

     This is in no way meant to be a mere crusade against smokers, it is much more involved than that.  We must be aware of everything we release in the air; smoke, chemicals, perfumes, etc..  This is a crusade against the noxious chemicals that eventually trickle down to those delicate little tubes that are so important nature provided them with a bone cage to protect them, those little tubes that miraculously transform the air we breathe into our greatest necessity of life.  Those noxious chemicals are taking their toll on the miraculous little tubes in all of us.

Respectfully Yours
Name withheld by request.