Cindy Duehring
( 1997 , Etats-Unis )

...for putting her personal tragedy at the service of humanity by helping others understand and combat the risks posed by toxic chemicals.

The cost of ignoring the chemical effects on human health is quietly but steadily growing ever higher, creating a dangerous risk to the very underpinnings of society.


Severely poisoned herself by a gross misapplication of pesticides in her apartment, Cindy Duehring intensively campaigned for the rights of chemically injured people. She founded and directed the Environmental Access Research Network (EARN), later merged with the Chemical Injury Information Network (CIIN), raising awareness on the chemical effects on human health and the cost of ignoring them, for example by making scientific, medical, legal and government literature available both to experts and laypeople.

Contact

Jim Duehring
240 Foster Creek Dr.
Marquette, MI 49855
USA

http://www.ciin.org/

Cindy Duehring died in 1999.

Biography

Cindy Duehring was born in Bismarck, North Dakota, in 1962. A promising student, she was training to become a doctor when, in 1985, she was severely poisoned by a gross misapplication of pesticides in her apartment. This caused her to develop a vulnerability to seizures upon low level exposure to chemicals that became so acute that she could not leave her sealed, filtered house built of non-toxic material on a remote slope in the North Dakota grasslands, because breathing unpurified air triggered a bronchial shutdown. Visitors had to follow an exhaustive cleansing routine to avoid bringing pollutants into her home.

In 1986 Duehring founded the Environmental Access Research Network (EARN) of which she was Director. In 1994 it merged with and became the research division of the Chemical Injury Information Network (CIIN). CIIN is a support and advocacy organisation for the benefit of the chemically injured with over 5,000 members in 35 countries.

Its primary focus is education, credible multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) research, and the empowerment of the chemically injured.

With one of the largest private libraries on chemical health issues in existence, EARN’s main task was to make scientific, medical, legal and government literature available to healthcare professionals, expert witnesses, attorneys, and laypeople.

Through EARN, Cindy Duehring wrote and published Environmental Access Profiles and the bi-monthly newsletter Medic …

Cindy Duehring was born in Bismarck, North Dakota, in 1962. A promising student, she was training to become a doctor when, in 1985, she was severely poisoned by a gross misapplication of pesticides in her apartment. This caused her to develop a vulnerability to seizures upon low level exposure to chemicals that became so acute that she could not leave her sealed, filtered house built of non-toxic material on a remote slope in the North Dakota grasslands, because breathing unpurified air triggered a bronchial shutdown. Visitors had to follow an exhaustive cleansing routine to avoid bringing pollutants into her home.

In 1986 Duehring founded the Environmental Access Research Network (EARN) of which she was Director. In 1994 it merged with and became the research division of the Chemical Injury Information Network (CIIN). CIIN is a support and advocacy organisation for the benefit of the chemically injured with over 5,000 members in 35 countries.

Its primary focus is education, credible multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) research, and the empowerment of the chemically injured.

With one of the largest private libraries on chemical health issues in existence, EARN’s main task was to make scientific, medical, legal and government literature available to healthcare professionals, expert witnesses, attorneys, and laypeople.

Through EARN, Cindy Duehring wrote and published Environmental Access Profiles and the bi-monthly newsletter Medical & Legal Briefs: A Referenced Compendium of Chemical Injury.

Considered one of the leading organisations in the world in this field, CIIN/EARN works with healthcare professionals and governments in many countries, and the United Nations Environment Programme and the European Union have both recognised CIIN/EARN’s work. In 1991, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry designated CIIN a clearinghouse to aid communities and individuals on the toxic health effects associated with low levels of chemical exposure.

In 1994 CIIN/EARN initiated the steering committee for the National Coalition for the Chemically Injured. In 1996 CIIN/EARN initiated the MCS Research Fund, which is dedicated to funding peer-reviewed research into the physiological causes of MCS.

After Cindy Duehring’s death, the Fund was renamed The Cindy Duehring MCS Research Fund. CIIN/EARN is a non-profit organisation that receives no government funding and operates primarily on private donations.

The aim of Duehring’s work was to stimulate society to reassess the impact of the more than 75,000 synthetic chemicals in common use, concerning which there is very limited human toxicity testing.

Many consumer products are protected by laws on trade secrecy and go virtually unregulated. Exposure to neurotoxins is one of the top ten causes of illness and injury in the US workforce, and the National Academy of Sciences estimated that indoor air pollution contributes from $15 billion to $1000 billion annually to national healthcare costs. The costs in terms of human suffering are incalculable.

In 1994 Duehring received the Resourceful Woman Leadership Award.

 
 

FAQ about Cindy Duehring

Questions asked in 2005, answered by Jim Duehring

1. Mr. Duehring, your late wife founded EARN of which she also was Director. Who continues her work now?

Cynthia Wilson of Chemical Injury Information Network (CIIN) continues the work of informing and networking scientists, doctors, attorneys, victims of chemical poisonings and other interested people. Go to her website, www.ciin.org, for more information. Many of Cindy’s writings are available there including a link to contribute money for the research of chemical injury.

2. Whom do you blame for what happened to your wife? Is it the industrial sector, the government, or is it the fault of the whole society?

There are several levels of blame – although I don’t usually use that term. The pesticide applicators did apply the chemicals in an illegal manner. DOW chemical did manufacture dursban, which is no longer produced for this type of indoor use. They could have voluntarily banned this pesticide earlier. In some ways we are all to blame because we want quick solutions to pest problems without considering all the possible ramifications

3. Why is there so much more attention towards nuclear dangers than towards chemical pollution?

Chemicals are so much a part of the modern technological society. They in some ways make life easier and even in some cases safer, but we don’t readily want to acknowledge possible short term or long term effects. Chemicals are seen as an essential part of life.

Nuclear energy is seen as an option, not so much a danger in the USA. Nuclear danger is however immediate and drastic. We have seen film clips of the explosion of the atom bomb. We have seen and heard of Chernobyl. Such drastic images more clearly evoke feelings of fear.

4. Why didn’t you sue – take legal action against someone?

At first, 23 year old Cindy, did not think her condition would last the rest of her life. At times she would show some improvement, then she would be exposed to even small levels of chemicals, and her condition would worsen. By the time she fully understood the extent and cause of her condition a legal statute of limitations (a 5 years period of time after the initial [health problems] during which she could have sued) had expired.

In any case, it would have been difficult legally to sue either the applicator or DOW Chemical and prove a specific incident resulted in her health problems.

5. How can we live more safely in our world of chemicals?

Consider alternative personal care products that don’t have harmful chemicals. Educate yourself and others. Use Integrated Pest management techniques. Ask yourself: “What things that seem to be necessities, could I live without?”

6. What effect has the RLA had on your work?

I personally do not work daily on the issues my wife studied. The award did bring validation and recognition of Cindy’s work. That work does continue especially with such people as Cynthia Wilson of CIIN.

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