What Now?


A brief account of a seriously “sensitive” to pollution person living in a society where fragranced and toxic products are more important than lives, where disabled lives are disposeable, where it’s now easy to be euthanized (even for for externally imposed and inflicted) suffering, but not to receive support to remove the causes of suffering, causes and conditions that have been made systemic for many people with disabilities.

I’m not a poet and I know it and I wrote it anyway…

What Now?

layers of dead skin cells ornament my body

reminiscent of reptilian designs

reminding me of water, warm water, hot water

how the water felt on my body, I barely remember

but I still remember feeling clean

it’s not like now

six months of fog and fatigue later

with skin cells everywhere to remind me

old skin and dust cover old bones

skinny old bones covered with  clothing suffused with tumeric coloured sweat

shortened sleeves and collars crispy from months of daily living

pajama back like spider webs,

rarely seen decay


water clean water

single use glass bottles arrive

arrive in recycled cardboard, fragranced cardboard

grateful for this safe drinking water

life giving water, not free, not barrier free

food now fragranced too

or plasticized, or sanitized,

or fragranced, plasticized, and sanitized

dryer vents, mould, and smoke

soon fertilizers and pesticides to boot

boot me, boot me

but boot me where

where is that place to live

breathe drink eat and be safe too

with neighbours who care about access

to clean air, water, and food

the neighbours who care about disabled lives too







20 responses to “What Now?

  1. Thank you for sharing – yes now even fresh food and vegetables coming out of grocery stores smell like laundry detergent – that detergent fragrance floats and clings onto everything these days – even after rinsing grapes that same laundry detergent fragrance store smell does not come off any fresh grapes that I buy, so I rarely eat grapes anymore. Even tried soaking grapes and it still smells like laundry detergent, yuck – how people stand using that scented laundry stuff is beyond me. Everytime I come out of a superwalmart my whole body is scented like laundry detergent, just like everything else in there – my hair, my shirt and everything comes out of there like I had just spent time in a laundry mat and I change clothes after I get home.

    • Too many of us are experiencing food insecurity and added disabling health effects because of this issue now. Needing showers and washing clothing after every trip out is exhausting too.

      I was able to shop in some supermarkets until the early-mid 2000s, I think…

      Had to stop eating any supermarket food when even the organic food that was packaged in plastic (like frozen organic blueberries, or bagged carrots) tasted like dryer sheets and fragrances.

      Health food store food tasted like incense back then (now it’s all saturated with essential oils).

      Couldn’t even find farm fresh eggs that hadn’t been handled with fragranced cloths or stored in used and fragranced egg cartons. Tried the next best option, but sensitized to eggs themselves too since they all were somewhat contaminated.

      10 years ago I found an organic delivery service here that didn’t have a storefront and were fragrance-free. The past year there have been many contamination issues, some from suppliers… but now they started carrying fragranced products too, which means that now there are no fragrance-free places to get food from in the Ottawa area (or anywhere, even if there was accessible housing elsewhere) that I am aware of.

      We need fragrance-free supply chains. For everything.

      I hope you are able to manage until that happens ❤

      • Thank you Linda – I peel off the outside of most vegetables before cooking and that helps get the fragrance off enough to be edible, does that help you at all? I need to find locally grown organic produce if possible.
        I wish you the best and nice hearing from you!

        • Yes, I’ve have to peel too, even the safest ones now, but not everything washes off.
          And they have to be safe enough to come inside without disabling me first.

          Most areas have CSAs and organic farms, but you need cash up front, and a car to access them.

          Also, they often don’t allow substitutions, so when we have allergies or sensitivities, we can be out of luck, unless there’s a farm that does a la carte cash and carry.

          Some areas have good farmers markets (but again, a car is necessary), and some (but not all) organic farmers are fragrance-free

  2. Part of the problem with scented laundry at least is they cannot smell it like we can so they dont see or think its an issue. they kinda brush you off or think you are exaggerating about the smell. or they tell or ask another person who also has never hear of it or smelled neighbors’ laundry before (I ghet that alot when i ask them to go unscented, “ive never smelled other peoples laundry” they say) and then those other people always tell them that BS, thats crazy, ive never heard of such a thing, it’s your house you can do what you want, and they can move. I BEG/PRAY to god everyday 1st for a cure, then if not, to PLEASE at least let people start smelling it stronger like we do so they can understand and see what we mean. i dont want anyone sick, but what the hell else is going to stop people from using scented laundry. It TORTURES me everyday. I can msell it on everything and everybody, VERY STRONG~!

    • ((( ❤ )))
      People become nose-blind and can’t smell things anymore, hence a lot of fragrance manufacturers looking for ways to make the fragrances stronger and stronger and last longer and longer (and become so embedded that they can’t be removed).

      Also, people don’t read labels, and think things have to be proven safe to be sold.

      Fragrances are NOT regulated (unless they are added to pesticides), and the industry allows hundreds of harmful ingredients to be used.

      Fun fact:

      Dryer vents were designed to emit moisture, not toxic chemicals.

  3. @Linda, to your point about the hazards of dryer vents for sensitive folks, in 2011 there was a detailed study done about the constituents of dryer vent fumes under various circumstances that are considered ‘normal’ in many US households (fragranced soap and dryer sheet).  I would have wished there also to have been the inclusion of a un-fragranced detergent among those researched.

    You can find the PDF of the gory details via web search for 2011/2013 paper — “Chemical emissions from residential dryer vents during use of fragranced laundry products”

    The most salient points are summarized in an article “Dryer Vents: an   overlooked Source of pollution?”. I enjoyed this tepid defense from a Big Detergent lobbying group, an apparent mini-me of the Big Tobacco and Big Telecom  FUD-makers:
    Ladd Smith, president of the industry group the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, which issued a  press  release  criticizing  the  study,  is  much  more  skeptical.  He expresses  concern  that  the  study  points  a  suggestive  finger  at  the laundry products without proving that’s where the VOCs came from or  ruling  out  ambient  air,  the  towels,  or  the  dryers  themselves  as potential sources. To do that, he says, a much bigger, controlled study is  necessary.  Barring  that,  he  says,  the  current  study  provided  insuf-ficient  detail  about  brands,  models,  and  settings  of  the  washers  and dryers used even to allow independent researchers to reproduce it.

    Around here, Sweetheart is mildly chemically sensitive (compared to you folks) but has found that the unscented Trader Joes powder (now unavailable) or liquid detergent is AOK for her when run on 78 minute cycle (as many extra rinses as our washer machine will do).  We hang everything to dry on outside lines and might use our condensing dryer only a few times a year.  Due to other sensitivities nearly all our laundry is flax linen or cotton.  Our only regret is that ‘soft’ towels seem but a distant memory.

    I agree with the sentiment that these fragrances just do not wash out.  I had purchased some one dollar pants, used, from a thrift store.  I have washed them many times and hung out in sun each time and they still retain their stink.
    Lots of folks are so oblivious to the intuitively obvious conclusion that you should not allow anything into your breathing air, your drinking water or on your skin that you would not consider eating.  It all gets absorbed by the body to various degrees.  Unless these toxicants are broken down or eliminated, they are sequestered in body fat or otherwise get into real mischief. Bah.

  4. @Linda. For cost-conscious online shopping, our best recommendations are threadup.com and swap.com.

    There are two kinds of flax linen — woven and knit. Both can be machine washed frequently, in cold water, air-dried, but the knits are delicate and should be placed into a laundry bag and expect them to have a shorter life. Oh, you will have wrinkles, but I am assuming that being comfortable trumps being a fashionista.

    FYI, if you do win a lottery, Linoto makes the cleanest linen sheets and bedding. No sizing, no retardants. So unadorned that my delicate sweetheart can have them against her skin straight from the shipping box, without first washing or airing.

    For more than a year, Sweetheart has worn only 100% flax linen clothing against her skin as well as all the bedding. This is due to her electrical sensitivity. It might be a big off-topic and a wee too much ‘woo’ to discuss the details here.

    FYI, we have a ceiling mounted drying rack which is helpful for drying bedding when outside is too wet. These are popular in England. It was used every day for a year while we wrestled with massive night sweats due to a crohn’s flareup.

    Feel free to followup if you have any linen Qs.


    • Thank you! Will look into those sources.
      BTW, that’s not woo, I have EHS on my medical dx file too.

      • @Linda, certainly it is well known that the same folks who exhibit MCS are also susceptible to EHS. I had encountered one recent statistic … paraphrasing from memory: that 37% of the folks who exhibit EHS between ages 40-60 also had shown prior MCS symptoms. Another stat, about 3/4 of the EHS adults are female. Likely, you are well into that EHS ‘sweet spot’ so it is wise to monitor it and take proactive steps.

        We have learned from unfortunate experience that EHS symptoms can manifest suddenly and remain semi-permanent, even with being housebound in a sanctuary with little or no electricity. The body reaches a tipping point of sensitivity and avoidance might not restore pre-EHS health. To be quite honest, covid19 stay-at-home is almost no different for my Sweetheart since she can hardly travel off our rural property due to EHS anyway. Very socially isolating.

        I have studied EHS quite thoroughly for the last two years, It is becoming more mainstream now, but several more years before it is publicly acknowledged. I attended the 2021 EMF medical conference — lots of doctors are learning about it and lightbulbs illuminating as they see a possible path to help patients with environmental sensitivities such as electrical sensitivity (other than prescribe psych meds).

        Actually, the ‘woo’ comment I mentioned previously is related to my sweetheart’s categorization of which clothing materials she can wear in combination, either against her skin or in a layer above. Currently, she cannot wear wool on top of her linen … although she could do that fine until her EHS manifested a few years ago. She cannot even have wool, silk, cotton, tencel or modal or linen blends touch her skin. Sweetheart is an expert muscle-tester and is easily able to tell which clothing materials helps or hurts her body; even if we do not understand the whys, the results are 100 percent consistent. We have since discovered one Israeli research looking into this same question, framing it around the ‘frequency’ interplay of each kind of material, which makes some sense. The world is a complicated place and I have lost some respect for folks that denigrate what they do not understand or what they fervently believe, doing so under the guise of ‘science’ instead of leaping up with curiosity about consistent observations that remain unexplained. Bah.


        • Can’t respond to everything now, you brought up several points…

          The clothing combination thing is interesting. I haven’t experienced that, but have had foods that I can’t eat in combination with certain other foods, so I can relate a bit re the combination issue, and have occasionally had some things just feel energetically wrong without being able to pinpoint what could be affecting the energy or how.

          I emailed linoto asking what laundry products they use to prewash their linen with, as that could be a deal-breaker for me.

          I used to tolerate an organic bedding company’s wool and cotton materials brand new, despite having some serious textile and product issues, but the last things I ordered from them had been washed with something I didn’t do well with breathing (I haven’t tried using them yet, so I don’t know if that will affect my ability to use them eventually, as first I need to get the water situation addressed, then find a safe washer and dryer (one of these years that might happen, it’s been over 12 years living without), and then buy things to wash and have the energy to wash them countless times while dealing with the exposures from new things… sighs… so many obstacles now.

          I used to believe that society would eventually care about human canaries, and our messages, but I am no longer as hopeful.

          • @Linda, food combos are so complex, especially for folks whose biology has stilted from typical robustness. Here, we found that having fasting and OMAD (one meal a day) are helpful tools, though rebuilding the core gut microbiome is probably the true way forward. Easier said than done.

            Sweetheart did notice that ‘meat & cheese’ meal should precede, not follow, the ‘carb’ meal for her own biology. Here, there is a strict separation of food types.

            Even many of the pricey vitamins and nutriceuticals have irksome fillers such as magnesium stearate or gums that cause intestinal havoc. As you and the core audience of your website know, ‘Environmental Intolerance’ comes into many gradations and even vendors who think they are making accommodations for the benefit of EI folks do not realize how many small decisions they make (which ‘inert’ ingredients to add to a tablet, what ‘prewash’ to use for material) that have outsized effect for the canaries. Canaries are not dominant players in the economy, unless united, except when driven to fear- or desperation-based purchasing.

            I am not sure if you have the bandwidth, but for EHS I heartily recommend the Arthur Firstenberg book “The Invisible Rainbow”. Arthur is a ‘canary’ who has had EHS for several decades and this comprehensive look at electricity and its effects on biological systems is a page-turner. He recounts many fascinating stories about sudden peaks in mortality after each generation of cell tower was deployed … more ‘canaries’ ground through the mill, sadly. Arthur maintains vigilant watch on the 5g satellites, which now engender an uber-worry for people who are very EHS sensitive as they feel they soon might have zero public spaces available to them.

            If you do not already know the Jerry Evans story, he has written two inexpensive kindle memoirs on Amazon. He became both EHS and MCS about 25 years ago and (has?) had a devil of a time coping with life. It is both horrifying and hopeful, and for most folks it gives them a reason to be thankful that their own personal situations have not (yet) become so dire. Here is a well-written review worth scanning. https://www.eiwellspring.org/reviews/MCSandEHSBookReviews.pdf

            Linda, you mentioned that you had to deal with your water (supply?) first. What does that mean? Do you have yuck in the potable water supply that needs treatment in some fashion?

            My personal opinion is that much of the chronic environmental intolerance — MCS, EHS, mold, food allergies, noise or light sensitivity and so on — is due primarily to their personal living/working environment. Duh. I believe a lot of people do try to recover from their health collapses without actually removing themselves from that toxic (for them) environment and have limited success. For example, continuing to expose oneself to EMF fields, once EHS, can reduce the effectiveness of conventional recovery protocols involving pharma medicines, nutriceuticals and diet regimes.

            Most of these environmental toxicants are invisible or too expensive to detect, so the only rational direction forward is to pare down one’s life to bare essentials – clean air (including absence of RF radiation), clean water, pure food, exercise, consistent deep sleep and within that pared down life take a recovery journey guided by someone truly knowledgeable. Yes, this is the fantasy we hope for, but while we have achieved most of the former, finding a trusted guide eludes us still.

            • I have had to dig far back into many supply chains in an effort to attempt to determine the source of the problem for many different things and foods. It’s exhausting when there are no standards or regulations. Many suppliers don’t like being questioned.

              I was on Arthur’s email list till he started sharing Qspiracy theories last year. Too many people with EHS (and other chronic health issues or wellness ‘influencers’) got sucked into the initial acceptance and were led down the path of dangerous nonsense.

              Jerry Evans story was a good one. He also had an article printed in the same Ecopsychology Special Issue my article was published in.

              Re my water supply, it got contaminated over 6 months ago, then I met serious obstruction in having it addressed by those who should have addressed it during the time it could have been addressed without causing extra harm due to asphalt projects (that needs more unpacking), along with a number of other events that nearly cost me my life. Things have deteriorated on a number of fronts. There’s no longer anywhere I can get fragrance-free food from, among other things.

              Trying to address it personally, with very little energy, (post covid my energy was reduced even more than before) just hasn’t been working out…

              Who knew it’s impossible to find a fragrance-free plumber who knows how to address contamination issues here when having to call one plumber at a time instead of having an org or association of trades who can send out a message to their members?

              I’d move in a heartbeat if there was a place to go and a way to get there that wouldn’t kill me, and help to make it happen.

              Unfortunately there’s nothing accessible or affordable for poor people here, especially those of us who are human canaries, ‘sensitive’ to and disabled by large drivers of the economy… but Canada just made it legal for us to be euthanized due to the suffering that they perpetuate and won’t help us alleviate.

              Apologies for the rather hopeless nature of my writing. Either there’s some kind of mold outside that’s affecting me with the snow melting, or I’m not getting enough nutrients, or not being able to bathe and access clean clothing or bedding for over 6 months is having a neg affect on my skin and biome, or all the dust (no safe vacuum, no safe water to wash a cloth with) or something else, or a combination of everything including management trying to push me out of here, with no solutions in sight, have me a bit less that hopeful and able to tolerate these burdens.

              Fun Fact:

              “Frank Clegg and I went to speak to Industry Canada together in 2012.
              There was a place we wanted to make Canada’s first “white zone,” or Radio-Free Zone.
              It was a perfect place to set up a radio-free area in Canada.
              They told us they would legally block all attempts to do this anywhere in Canada, as there could not be any areas in Canada without cell service.
              Canada is a very large country, and there are a lot of people with electrosensitivity who need a place to live and try to recover.
              It seems pretty inhumane to deprive people of this chance to live a normal life or even attempt to help themselves”

              ~ Melissa Chalmers (former airline pilot)
              Proceedings from a Symposium on the Impacts of Wireless Technology on Health (.pdf)

              Click to access Symposium_Document_Final_Jan_12.pdf

          • Hi Linda, I wish society would care more about human canaries too – instead, I am seen as the “odd” person and I get the jokes about just putting me in a bubble (its not funny anymore). I just have to remember that those who really care about me will understand that scented and toxic stuff that most can tolerate, I cannot. Its hard on my boyfriend at times because I can’t tolerate hotel rooms, even nice ones because all the linens and everything are highly fragranced not just from what the sheets are washed with but all the scented cleaning sprays used to clean the room. He wishes we could stay at a hotel sometimes if we travel, but he understands that I cannot.

            • @Karen, I know it may seem an awfully small upside, but learning that you are an environmental ‘canary’ when you are young (which i am presuming) might give you a few lifetime benefits, including extra caution about electrical sensitivity and you may well perhaps have a better health prognosis long term, compared to the general population who are all being poisoned, slowly and without their knowledge. Of course, becoming de-ultrasensitized and recovering a sense of normalcy is what is hoped for each canary, but one cannot ignore, one must endure,

              It has been written somewhere that the people who are quite bothered by toxicants in the environment are actually the normal ones, since biologically it makes no sense for a healthy animal to remain oblivious of such things. Food for thought.

            • Thank you so much Ken!!! That makes so much sense, yes exactly !! I will write that down to keep it fresh in my verbal arsenal when I feel a need to have to explain or defend my allergic reactions,
              Kind regards

    • I looked into Linoto, and unfortunately they use 2 products (Ecos free and clear laundry detergent and a drop of seventh generation fabric softener) that have MI preservatives that cause a lot of problems.

  5. Byron Woolcock

    Thank you Linda, kengartner and all, Much great info, some “too much personally familiar” ,but always the great fellowship of “those who know”.!

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