Ohio Network for the Chemically Injured
Sharing, Support, Community Education and Advocacy
P. O. Box 2 9290
Parma, Ohio 44129
November 28, 2003
Dr. Julie Gerberding, Director
Center for Disease Control
1600 Clifton Road, N.E.
Mail Stop D14
Atlanta, GA 30333
Dear Dr. Gerberding:
We are urging the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to address the epidemic of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and to multiply its support for MCS research and education. In addition, we ask that you please warn the general public of the dangers from pesticides and other everyday chemicals that may cause MCS and other devastating conditions, including diabetes, Parkinson's, attention deficit disorder, developmental disabilities, asthma and numerous forms of cancer.
It dismays those of us whose lives have been destroyed by chemicals that the CDC overreacts to West Nile Virus, (whose symptoms typically are transitory and mild, with fewer than a hundred deaths per year), while ignoring the dangers of pesticides and other chemicals whose effects are much more widespread, irreversible and devastating. The pesticides used to combat mosquitoes in the West Nile Virus eradication campaigns pose a much greater risk than do the mosquitoes themselves. The CDC's own report (Second National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals issued on January 31, 2003), documents that pesticides have been found in human blood, with particularly high levels in children.
The CDC should not promote the use of pesticides and repellants that cause serious health problems. Furthermore, aerial spraying of pesticides is ineffective. It does not kill mosquito larvae and does not prevent West Nile Virus. The CDC should call for a ban on aerial spraying and other irresponsible use of pesticides by many health departments, as well as their scare-tactic television commercials (such as "help us fight the bite"). Someone should take action to protect human health from further harm. The agency with the credibility, science, research and authority to do so is the CDC.
MCS is a form of chemical poisoning. Those who succumb to the propaganda of the chemical industry contend that MCS is a condition that has not been "validated by science". Each and every MCS symptom is listed in the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's (ATSDR) toxicological profiles for chemicals and heavy metals. The CDC should go on record validating these facts.
Medical professionals, hospitals and the general public have historically looked to the CDC for guidance and assistance. However, the CDC has not yet endorsed MCS, even though its own published scientific facts researched at ATSDR/CDC dictate that it should do so. Gulf War veterans, nurses, factory workers, school children, housewives and numerous others are presenting with symptoms of poisoning, but their conditions are being misdiagnosed. This results in further health injury. The patient is left on his own to define and fight for appropriate medical help that his physicians cannot give since: "75 percent of medical schools require only about seven hours of study in environmental medicine over four years" (Schenk M, Popp SM, Neale AV, et al. Environmental medicine content in medical school curricula. Acad Med. 1996; 71(5):127-29.)
WE URGE THE CDC TO:
1. Issue a public health statement about MCS asking for the cooperation of medical professionals, employers and others to protect those with MCS from further harm
2. Make immediate commitments to further studies and research about MCS
3. Issue a public health statement about the dangers to human health from the use of pesticides and other chemicals used in daily life
Those with serious illness should not be thrown into the lion's den of the political arena to fend for themselves, nor should they have to prove to anyone that they are sick. Stress causes further illness. And, what stress can be worse than being sick and having someone attempt to invalidate you or a physician refusing to provide medical care? Many with MCS are now homeless, having lost their jobs, family and community support. The medical community refuses to accommodate them. The typical physician is a puppet for the pharmaceutical corporations who educate physicians to treat symptoms with drugs rather than to eliminate unnecessary health risks. Statistics show the consequences of this bias on physician education:
1. The fourth major cause of death in the U.S. is acute drug reaction (Journal of American Medical Assoc., 1998 279(15):1200-1205);
2. The eighth leading cause of death is currently being attributed to medical error (in a news release issued by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Nov. 29, 1999)".
We need your validation of MCS to survive this condition. We need you to educate the medical community about the pain and suffering they have caused those with MCS by their refusal to acknowledge and accommodate MCS.
I look forward to hearing from you soon. My health, and the health of many others, depends upon prompt, decisive and effective action by the CDC.
Toni M. Temple
- Dr. Henry Falk, Assistant Administrator, ATSDR, Mailstop ED 28
- Sharon Williams Fleetwood, ATSDR Acting Director, Division of Health Assessment
- Dr. Carol Rubin, ATSDR