Sonoma County, California... Use of pesticides and chemicals destroys lives

I came to Sonoma County in about 1953, when I was three years old.  My family developed a chicken ranch with 12,000 chickens.  My father proceeded to use lots of insecticides/pesticides. This was a totally family operated ranch.  We children did the bulk of the work, for several hours on a daily basis. I know that he used lots of malathion and Black Leaf Forty, which is a highly toxic derivative of the tobacco leaf and nicotine.  I know he used lots of other chemicals. 

I know I had symptoms of acute poisoning as a child. We also had an apple ranch and other fruit trees.  My father developed an astrocytoma, in the brain.  He had lots of pain, rages, very bad ones. He had surgery and radiation.  He tried to kill himself twice.  The second time he succeeded.  One horrible tragedy lasting many years.. 

My mother tried to kill herself.  She did not succeed. She was pregnant with a brother of mine.  He is now psychologically disabled, after failing at UCB in architecture studies.  One sister tried to kill herself several times.  She was found dead on the Farralon Islands off of San Francisco in 1972.  She was a lovely person and a college graduate.  Another brother tried to accidentally on purpose, so to speak, kill himself three times, and on the third time he did die.  My other brother had problems and he was found dead in his sleep of heart failure at about 55 years of age.

There were other problems.  I have had problems with infertility.  I had several miscarriages.  I had an enlarged liver when I was sixteen, with fatty infilitration.  My sister who died, I believe, had related skin problems and a reynaud type disorder, as well as depression and psychosis. 

Our housekeeper who worked on our ranch and a sheep and chicken ranch across the street from us also killed herself.  She immolated herself at her home I understand. 

My friend and neighbor directly, when she was in her twenties, shot and killed her husband and two kids and tried to kill herself but did not succeed. 

My best friend who worked with me on our ranch and whose father also had a chicken ranch using chemicals, had problems for years with depression and chemical sensitivity.  Her husband shot her and then himself, in what was determined to be a suicide pact, an act of love. 

I am newly on antidepressants, an SSRI.  And I am so glad.  It is helping.  I find I want to "kind of" share this story because for once in my life, with my psychologist's help,  I have found a very significant contributing explanation of a lot of the PROBLEM in my family and circle of neighbors and friends.  I firmly believe that organophosphate poisoning and other poisoning were significant causes of a very horrific life experience for many.  My short story merely touches upon it.

I have read about a group of sheep farmers in the UK and some islanders with a very high rate of suicidal behaviour, related to organophosphates. I believe the agricultural community and community at large in Sonoma county needs to be informed.  I feel a bit handicapped because so much of the trauma is of a very personal nature.  I have some concerns about confidentiality.  But I do not just want to do nothing.  Maybe somehow this story can help you help others.  I am a registered nurse.  But I must say I do not think I would be doing well at all with out this SSRI now. It stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor,  I do not believe that it is a coincidence that I need this after years of organophosphate exposure.  And how well would my dead family members be doing now if they would have been given a chemical free life, or one with SSRI's.  You can contact me at my e-mail if you would like.  Sincerely JMK


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