Sensitivity forces woman to seek toxin-free home

Newfoundland couple building chemical-free home to cope with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity to cosmetics, cleaners and other chemicals.

A couple in Newfoundland and Labrador are building a special house to keep themselves safe from cosmetics, perfume, detergents and cleaners.

Judie and Loyal Squires are rushing to finish their dream home on half an acre of land in Portugal Cove. Built without glue or fibreglass, and with as few chemicals as possible, the house is unique in the province.

Four years ago, Judie developed what doctors call Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, meaning her system gets overloaded by toxins.

Judie, 27, used to apply several perfumes and deodorants. Now perfumes, cleaners and car exhaust are like invisible enemies that can bring on hives or cause her throat to close. 

"Anybody who knew me from the past wouldn't believe that this is me now because I was the type person I wouldn't even go through the door without makeup and getting prettied up," said Judie.

Her husband, Loyal, has to live a chemical-free life, too. He's like her filter from the rest of the world.

Loyal said they've tried to eliminate chemicals from their lives, but it is difficult when his co-workers wear perfume and cologne. He needs to shower as soon he steps inside their home, and he often wears gloves.

Inside their house, the couple use baking soda and vinegar for cleaning and they avoid scented products altogether. Judie wears mostly cotton and they eat only organic foods.

Judie can't have visitors and she rarely leaves the home.

Last year, Judie wasn't told a neighbour had sprayed pesticides. The chemicals drifted over to the Squires' cars and into their apartment. 

"I was three days in and out of consciousness, throwing up, can't breathe, can't swallow, I kept filling up with mucus," she recalls. "My eyes get this film over them and that lasts for weeks."

The Squires want pesticides to be banned as they are in some other Canadian cities. They also want to raise public awareness of the potential dangers of chemicals, and do away with the perception that she is some kind of "allergy freak."

The couple look forward to a healthier life in their new home. They hope to move in by October.