Chemical sensitisation following exposure to pesticides
Updated: Sep 3, 2022
After reading this notice advertising the Safe Food Webinar, 'Our Food at Risk", Alan Willoughby wrote to me, asking that I share his story.
Here is Alan's website, which is an interesting one worth spending time checking out:
Really interesting about chlorpyriphos, which I have been told is a stronger form of malathion. Fyi, I thought I could share my experiences with both these chemicals - feel free to share with Alison as well if you think it would be of interest.
I taught horticulture at Taupo college in 1991. Around Easter, I totally collapsed. I have very little memory of the time except that my wife took me to a doctor, who spent about an hour with me, testing reflexes (none), taking blood samples, etc. I remember nothing about it; apparently I took about 5 minutes to do up my shoes. Symptoms were mainly sore eyes (felt like my eyes were loose in their sockets), throbbing headache, complete loss of any functional thinking ability or reasoning. The bloods showed nothing and I was referred to a psychologist in Hamilton. I drove there (!) and my only memory of that day was waiting at the traffic lights for the pedestrian crossing and wondering why I was waiting instead of just walking across the road because the trucks on the road were not real and could not harm me. Fortunately the pedestrian light turned to cross before I could put that theory to the test.
Long story short, I was visiting the school twice a week and checking on things in the greenhouse. I decided I should resign as students needed a full time teacher not relievers, so went to hand in my resignation. I called into the greenhouse for a final time to check if I'd left anything of mine behind and smelt the strong and unmistakeable smell of malathion. I woke up at about 8pm at home. I have absolutely no recollection of the time in between; apparently I handed in my resignation, chatted with some teachers, who later confirmed that I sounded really weird, then drove (!) home. Next day I visited the doctor again, had more blood taken to look for any anomalies in my cholinesterase (none), so he considered it must be an allergic reaction rather than poisoning.
I recovered over the next few weeks and did some part time work, then got a job with BOP Polytech in Whitianga, to which I commuted weekly. In those two years I was exposed to malathion on several occasions, each time bringing back the same symptoms, each time writing me off for a week. My teaching job moved to Tauranga and so did the family. Shortly after arriving, my wife bought some freshly picked apples from a roadside stall. I took two bites of an apple and the same symptoms returned. My wife contacted the orchard and they stated that had sprayed with chlorpyriphos 3 months earlier and that it had a 28 day withholding period; I still reacted instantaneously to even the minute dose of two bites (only one of which I swallowed, so it must be absorbed in the mouth).
I have had no further adverse reactions in the 18 years since that event. Looking back, I think the sensitivity began in childhood. Every year my father grew strawberries; every year in strawberry season I came out in hives. My parents therefore assumed I was allergic to strawberries. I was also frequently ill as a child, mainly with chest congestion and flu/cold symptoms. Had my tonsils out but that made no difference. Only as an adult did I realise that my father went through agricultural college and therefore learnt about all the latest and greatest sprays - including DDT. So all my vegetables and fruit were liberally (and lovingly) sprayed with DDT. I believe that is the cause of my lifelong sensitivity to pesticides. The most recent I have found is a sensitivity to glyphosate. That means that all grains must be organic, all meat must be organic. I cannot eat pork and chicken because their supplementary feed incudes non-organic grains sprayed with Roundup as a dessicant, as are pumpkins, potatoes, kumara. Venison is out unless it is organic or wild. We eat vegetables and fruit from our own organic garden and orchard. Going out for dinner is a real mission - need to give the waitress and chef the third degree, not helped by my wife being allergic to preservatives.
Hope that may be of interest to you and Alison -if you wish to use it for your blog, by all means do so - I could elaborate if you require. I'll look forward to the online talks.
Alan later added:
"Also, the incidents where I was exposed to Malathion could be of interest. I went into a plant shop which had a leaking bottle of Malathion - left as soon as I smelt it but was still crook for a week. Similarly when I went into a gardener's shed to get a tool he needed - one smell and off for a week. In Whitianga, went home to eat lunch, neighbour up wind had sprayed his garden that morning, didn't smell anything but again off for a week."
The "Food at Risk" webinar is Saturday, 3 September, 2.30 pm-4 pm on the Safe Food Campaign Facebook page, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I funded my way university studies during the 1970s by working on farms, milking cows, hay and silage-making, and when not doing those, I was out in the paddocks grubbing weeds, mostly ragwort and thistle. We did use herbicides but only occasionally. I'd say orchards and market gardens would have been heavy users of herbicides and pesticides back then, including DDT and Agent Orange. Unfortunately, I knew little of their dangers back then, and there was no protection of any kind, not even a pair of gloves, usually clad only in shorts during hot summer days. My-oh-my; how my attitude has changed since those carefree days, now that I'm 20 years into testing people's health status, including toxic exposures!
Nowadays, when I see weed-free fields, I see herbicides: Not Clean, Green New Zealand!
As an aside: During the 60s and 70s, when driving through the Waikato countryside at night, our car would be splattered as we hit swarms of moths and beetles. There are hardly any of these bugs around nowadays. The best explanation for their demise is today's widespread use of chemicals on our farms. Bugs are our early warning system that something is harming us and we must act now!
Let me tell you about a builder who became ill while working on a building site. He appeared to recover well only to discover he was now "chemical-sensitive: Just a wee sniff of construction chemicals was enough to make him violently ill for several days. As a result, he became unemployed and depressed for many years.
The HTMA below is a before and after test, indicating he is undergoing massive detoxification of iron, chromium, cobalt, arsenic, cadmium, lead and aluminium, to name several toxic elements. That was 20 years ago.
Here is his latest HTMA after years of steadily and gently plugging away at detoxing - it indicates a spectacular improvement, to say the least, but he still has some way to go:
You will now find him doing handyman work; when he is not working, he will ride his mountain bike in the hills. While he remains chemical-sensitive, he reports he is much better now.
Agent Orange, Phenoxy Sprays and Glyphosates
I was first alerted to the dangers of agricultural chemicals when a cousin and a cousin-in-law returned from their military service in Vietnam during the late 60s and early 70s. Both claimed to have been harmed by Agent Orange (2,4,5-T). My cousin-in-law was rendered infertile. My other cousin, John, doggedly campaigned for the next thirty years to get the government to acknowledge the harm this chemical caused, not just to those who served in Vietnam but to their offspring, including grandchildren. As a result, Dow Chemicals in New Plymouth, which manufactured Agent Orange for agricultural and military uses, stopped production. Agent Orange has since been replaced by herbicides that are supposed to be safer. However, I have my doubts about just how safe these replacements are.
The immediate and intergenerational harm caused by Agent Orange and other chemicals was not restricted to soldiers serving in Vietnam; Spare a thought for the poor Vietnamese families they sprayed with this toxic stuff! Further, the harm was happening in clean, green New Zealand. Please read these articles about Don Dempsey's experience with Phenoxy herbicides which harmed not just his animals but also his family. Sadly, Don died a few years ago from cancer, which we assume is from exposure to these toxic chemicals.
Arsenic in our environment
For the last 20 years, I have been doing the best I can to highlight the damage being done to human health by arsenic in our water, mainly from the following sources:
Bathing in arsenic-laced geothermal water.
Handling or burning arsenic-treated timber.
Drinking bore water contaminated with arsenic.
The health officials and other authorities seem not to want to know and have fobbed me off. Consequently, the harm continues and is enormous, affecting thousands of people, including tourists.
While New Zealand is very green, it is far from clean, and several sources subtly poison people.
New Zealand does have the opportunity to be the Garden of Eden organic food producer for the world. Still, we are heading at speed in the wrong direction, including slipping unfettered genetic engineering (GE) for plants, microorganisms, animals and humans, into this country, by way of mRNA, using the pandemic as a smokescreen:
Here is what we need to do:
Consult farmers and all other parties in the agriculture sector in developing a plan with assistance to move New Zealand toward GE-free and organic farming and all the opportunities this has for high-value food production. We have to get out of the trap we've fallen into of trying to compete with the rest of the world in selling low-value industrially-produced and chemically-dependent agricultural products.
Place a moratorium on GE technologies in New Zealand until we have completed a science and ethics-based review and widespread public debates on all the GE technologies, including mRNA, and whether these are appropriate for this beautiful country.
If you feel your health has been affected by toxins, the first action is to remove yourself from the suspected source while arranging some testing which I'll organise for you. We'll then have a better idea of what is affecting you and what to do, including identifying the source, which may have been 20-30 years ago in many cases. Do not waste your money on detoxification programmes until you have done the testing; otherwise, you are flying blind and wasting a whole lot of time and money. Contact me first via this website.