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Canadian Woman's Sensitivies Confine Her To House

Thursday 26 March 2015


From Nova Scotia newspaper The News:


Wendy Kearly
Wendy Kearly has a disease called multiple chemical
sensitivity. She fears that if she’s forced to leave her
home, her illness may become worse.
(Photo: Adam MacInnis – The News)

Woman’s sensitivities confine her to house

Adam MacInnis
Published on March 23, 2015

Fears being forced to move into semi-detached unit will put her at risk

Wendy Kearly believes the only place she is safe is inside her home on Munroe Street in New Glasgow – and with some legitimate reasons.

Kearly has multiple chemical sensitivity, a disease that causes her to have an increased sensitivity to chemicals ranging from car exhaust to print on a paper. Even a trip to the hospital where she is exposed to people wearing perfume has caused her to be sick for days.

It’s so bad that sometimes she has to open her mail and leave it for a couple of days in the box to air out before reading it. Other times she uses a plastic sleeve to read it with.

She wears an industrial respirator when she leaves her home, but that is for a very limited time – about three hours – each month. That three hours is spent getting groceries and visiting doctors. The rest of her time is spent, for the most part, home alone.

“That three hours still makes me sick,” she said.

She said medical specialists in environmental illness have concluded that she requires a detached, single-family, chemical-free house to maintain good health. That is what she has now with her public housing on Munroe Avenue where she has lived since 1989.

Although she qualifies financially for public housing she said she is technically over housed for this unit, now that she lives alone. The Eastern Mainland Housing Authority has said she has to move to an alternate unit or face eviction from the house, she said.

The problem with those places is that neither one is detached, so Kearly could be at risk from products used by her neighbours.

“To live in close proximity to other people makes me ill,” she said.

That exposure can cause lasting damage for her, such as one recent spring when she was outside while her grass was being mowed and ended up with lasting ear damage from what she believes was toxins in the grass.

Kearly has applied to the Supreme Court to appeal her eviction. She doesn’t have a lawyer, she said.

“I have no options. They’re treating it like there are options when there are none,” she said.

Because the exposure can be accumulative in its effects, she fears that exposure could be life threatening.

“The only treatment for MCS is avoidance, if I'm moved I will need in-home care, possible long-term residential care due to the severity of my illness,” she said. “It could result in a livable disability becoming a terminal illness due to its progressive and accumulative nature.”

Kearly said she has had letters from both her family doctor and her specialist supporting her desire to stay in the home she’s currently at, but she’s not sure that will be enough for the legal system.

“I’ve been here for 25 years and been scent free for at least 10 years,” she said.

“It’s the safest place I know for me. I don’t visit people. I don’t go out for meetings and clubs. I’m here.”

She’s created a website for people to go to where she shares her story and is asking them to sign a letter of support to send to the province urging them to allow her to stay in her home. The website can be found at

Copyright TC Media © 2015


The above, with comments, originally appeared here.


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