Support group forms for a nearly nameless illness

Local support group creates a new hope for those in the Halifax community.

Micki Burton following the fourth meeting of 2012 for those living with environmental illnesses
Micki Burton founder of a local support group for those with environmental sensitivities and illnesses (Tamara Freeman photo)

By: Tamara Freeman

Early last year, Micki Burton made a support group for people like her who suffer from environmental illness.

Some people can get sick by just being near the chemicals in pesticides and cleaners, even perfumes and body lotions.

For Burton and many others, there’s lots of things they can’t do or participate in.

Burton first began getting sick about 20 years ago, when there were no support groups to help people who faced the challenge of environmental illness.

“There has never really been a support group outside of belonging to the environmental health center in Fall River,” says Burton.

There are a couple different terms for environmental illness: one is known as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). Burton says, “they all really mean the same thing, one is just more explained than the other.”

It’s difficult for doctors who aren’t well informed about environmental illnesses to help patients that show signs of it.

Burton acknowledges that they are unaware and sympathizes, remarking, “it is very difficult, very difficult.”

This is a problem, especially for those sensitive to the settings and environment of the hospital.

For Burton, Halifax has proven to be a place that is most environmentally friendly.

“There is still a long way to go for more signage when people use pesticides, things can always be improved but we’re getting there slowly,” remarks Burton.

Related Resources
Pesticide Free Nova Scotia 

Policy on Environmental Sensitivities

Medical Perspective on Environmental Sensitivities

Legal perspective on Environmental Sensitivities

Nova Scotia Environmental Health Centre


“In the environmental community, a lot of people are very intimidated to go out into the world or to take on any responsibilities outside of their own little world. They’re very fearful of getting ill from other people and a lot of them have become very quiet and withdrawn because of that fear,” explains Burton.

“I do like helping people, I think that we are our brothers keepers and that you should go out into the community and give back, ” says Burton.

Related audio

Micki Burton explains some of the hardships faced when having environmental sensitivities .