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CSF Board Members

Alison Johnson, Chair
Topsham, Maine

Varda Burstyn
Peterborough, Ontario

Pamela Gibson, PhD
Churchville, Virginia

Jeffrey May
Tyngsborough, Massachusetts

L. Christine Oliver, MD
Boston, Massachusetts

Robert Weggel
Reading, Massachusetts


Heating Systems and Gas Stoves

Many chemically sensitive people try one therapy after another, often at great expense and inconvenience, but are still living with a gas stove in the kitchen or with hot-air heat. Some relocate to the Southwest but move into houses or apartments with hot-air gas heat. Many in the MCS community have drifted quite far from the basic principles of Dr. Theron Randolph, the professor at Northwestern Medical School who first described the phenomenon that would later be known as multiple chemical sensitivity. In the book that he coauthored with Ralph Moss, An Alternative Approach to Allergies, revised edition, 1989, pp. 99-102, Dr. Randolph stated:

  • Indoor air pollution is particularly dangerous because exposure to it is so constant. Outdoor air pollution comes and goes; indoor pollution is ever-present, and thus its effects generally remain well hidden...

  • At the first government conference on air pollution, held in 1962, [I stated that] in my clinical experience ... indoor air pollution was eight to ten times more important as a source of chronic illness in susceptible people than was ambient air pollution ... And of the various materials found in the home, the gas kitchen range, I said, was easily the worst offender.

  • In the course of my practice, I have directed over 3,000 patients to remove their gas kitchen ranges because I found these people to be susceptible to chemical odors and fumes ... To date, none of these patients has complained that the changeover was not worth the cost or trouble.

  • In many cases, in fact, when the range was removed for the benefit of one member of the family, other members of the family also reported an improvement in health. A gas range was removed from the home of one patient, a girl with persistent headaches. Her mother, who was not a patient, reported an unsuspected benefit, however. While cooking with gas, she had often become highly irritable. She would scream at the children or anyone else who came in to "her kitchen." ... With the removal of the gas range, her temper tantrums quickly subsided.

  • If a chemically susceptible person has a gas-fired heating system, he has to consider changing it, or changing houses, regardless of the immediate cost. The reason is that it is difficult for a susceptible person to remain in anything resembling good health if he is subjected to the fumes of such a system.

  • The warm-air furnace is [the type of furnace] most frequently implicated as the source of chronic illness ... Leaks in such systems are common ... When a chemically susceptible patient moves out of a home with such a furnace and into an ecologically sound environment, he often experiences an improvement in health.

Note from Alison Johnson
Chair of the Chemical Sensitivity Foundation

Following Dr. Randolph's advice about heating systems made a huge difference in my life. When I suddenly developed MCS at age 35, one of my symptoms was joint pains that began one year shortly after our oil furnace was started for the winter. My physician said that I was just getting older, but I didn't accept that theory. My search for another answer for my arthritic pains led me to read Dr. Randolph's first book, Human Ecology and Susceptibility to the Chemical Environment (1962).

After we replaced our oil furnace with an electric boiler that fed our hot-water radiators, my joint pains disappeared and never returned. Until I reached my late sixties, I was able to take long hikes every summer in Rocky Mountain National Park, often covering over sixteen miles round trip at a high altitude.

Quotations from The Inflammation Cookbook
William J. Meggs, M.D.
Board Member of the Chemical Sensitivity Foundation

  • Gas appliances pollute the indoor air.

  • Those with chronic or recurrent conditions who have gas cook stoves can do a simple test to see if the fumes are exacerbating their problems. Have the gas turned off for a week and cook with electric appliances, such as electric frying pans, toasters, and hot plates. Leave the gas off for 5 to 7 days, then have the gas turned back on. Such an experiment can be very enlightening and has led to amazing improvements in health in some individuals (p. 254).




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Chemical Sensitivity Foundation, P.O. Box 283, Topsham, ME 04086