Cindy Duehring was born in Bismarck, North Dakota in 1962. A promising student, she was training to be a doctor when, in 1985, she was severely poisoned by a gross misapplication of pesticides in her apartment. This caused her to develop a vulnerability to seizures upon low level exposure to chemicals that is now so acute that she cannot leave her sealed, filtered house built of non-toxic material on a remote slope in the North Dakota grasslands, because breathing unpurified air triggers a bronchial shutdown. Visitors have to follow an exhaustive cleansing routine to avoid bringing pollutants into her home that might kill her.
In 1986 Duehring founded the Environmental Access Research Network (EARN) of which she is Director, which in 1994 merged with and became the research division of the Chemical Injury Information Network (CIIN) which has over 5,000 members in 32 countries. CIIN is a support and advocacy organisation for the benefit of the chemically injured. Its primary focus is education, credible multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) research, and the empowerment of the chemically injured. With one of the largest private libraries on chemical health issues in existence, EARN's main task is to make scientific, medical, legal and government literature available to healthcare professionals, expert witnesses, attorneys, and laypeople. Through EARN, Cindy Duehring writes and publishes Environmental Access Profiles and the bi-monthly newsletter Medical & Legal Briefs: A Referenced Compendium of Chemical Injury.
Considered one of the leading organisations in the world in this field, CIIN/EARN works with healthcare professionals and governments in many countries, and the United Nations Environment Programme and the European Union have both recognised CIIN/EARN's work. About 100 of the organisation's members are US Senators and Representatives who consistently refer their chemically injured constituents to the organisation. The organisation is now routinely recommended by a number of government agencies when contacted with questions about MCS and the health effects of chemicals. In 1991, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry designated CIIN a clearinghouse to aid communities and individuals on the toxic health effects associated with low levels of chemical exposure.
In 1994 CIIN/EARN initiated the steering committee for the National Coalition for the Chemically Injured. In 1996 CIIN/EARN initiated the MCS Research Fund, which is dedicated to funding peer-reviewed research into the physiological causes of MCS. CIIN/EARN is a non-profit organisation that receives no government funding and operates primarily on private donations.
The aim of Duehring's work is to stimulate society to reassess the impact of the more than 75,000 synthetic chemicals in common use, concerning which there is very limited human toxicity testing. Many consumer products are protected by laws on trade secrecy and go virtually unregulated. Exposure to neurotoxins is one of the top ten causes of illness and injury in the US workforce, and the National Academy of Sciences estimates that indoor air pollution contributes from $15 billion to $1000 billion annually to national healthcare costs. The costs in terms of human suffering are incalculable.
In 1994 Duehring received the Resourceful Woman Leadership Award.
"Short-term profits can short-change our future. ... The cost of ignoring the chemical effects on human health is quietly but steadily growing ever higher, creating a dangerous risk to the very underpinnings of society."
- Cindy Duehring
6707 Adirondack Trail
Amarillo, TX 97106