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Meet The Team: United States of America

Jonathan Neiss:  State Representative for New Jersey

Jonathan Neiss, MCS International State Representative, New Jersey, USA. The Chemical Connection:  Well, I was born and raised in Northern New Jersey, about 10 miles from New York City. So, I am sure that didn't help me much. I had allergies as a kid, my brother has severe asthma. There is no real allergy history in the family. So, I wonder if being raised in an area with more pollution contributed to my problems. Other than that, I had pretty "normal" exposures - I have a lot of fillings with mercury, as a kid, I guess we played in some areas that were industrial and had pollution.

I was a lab tech one summer in a pollution research project (in the Arthur Kill, near old Esso plants). It was by a Dr. Morrison at Kean College in Union in 1978. I was just a high school kid who worked in the lab as a little ecology project for the summer. They found the highest levels of mercury ever recorded on the planet (I think it was 70 ppm). But I just helped a bit with the core samples (riverbed mud) not the processing.

My exposure came from a furnace accident. I was exposed to carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, paint fumes and polyurethane. So, that is pretty straight forward. But I think my inability to recover from it was due to many years of severe stress and insomnia. That was brought on by PTSD from being a violent crime victim. I think my environmental illness is a combination of chemical exposure and a severely depleted immune system (from the stress, insomnia, etc. etc.)

Background Information:  I am just now looking into getting help from an environmental doctor. The delay has been caused by financial constraints, as well as the severity of my illness. I just don't travel well, at all. The last time I was in a car for more than 20 minutes, I had to go to the ER.

It is a long and complicated story. I come from a background of Hatha Yoga and meditation and fully believe in the power of natural medicine. I also recognize that traditional herbal and natural medicine, as it was developed thousands of years ago was never specifically designed to deal with and treat injuries resulting from toxic chemicals. Nevertheless, I believe natural healing systems like Traditional Chinese Medicine and Aryuvedic Medicine have a more primarily causal understanding of the body, its processes and healing. Therefore, I believe that these traditional healing methods have a great deal to offer.

Perhaps elements of modern scientific medicine and its research can benefit as well. I am looking forward to powerfully addressing my illness and maintaining hope for symptom reduction, even much more.

The Wider Context:  I view our society's use of these hundreds of thousands of chemicals to be just shy of a suicidal intention. I think that there are few too few studies being done into the effects of these chemicals, their effect in combination, their cumulative effect, their long-term effect with low-dosage exposure and on. Though, intuitively, I think we already know how dangerous the how whole mix is.

I think that the chemical industry could easily work with environmentalists and health advocates to create safer products and processes and make society as a whole far, far, far, safer. I do not think it has to be a choice between an industrially modern society and some kind of Luddite throwback to medieval times. I think there is something in the middle and we should seek it, as one unified society, desiring the betterment of all. I think we must seek it, now and with vigor.

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