Oral Histories

Interview of Mary Ehly

Chemical Entanglements: Oral Histories of Environmental Illness
Environmental Illness
Social Movements
Kim, Kelsey
Ehly, Mary
Persons Present:
Ehly and Kim
Place Conducted:
The interview was conducted using the Zoom video conferencing platform.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
This interview was conducted by Kelsey Kim, graduate student interviewer, for the Center for the Study of Women; PhD student in Anthropology, UCLA. Kim’s dissertation focuses on gender and racial inequalities in the Silicon Valley high-tech industry. and Interviewed for the UCLA Center for the Study of Women’s Chemical Entanglements: Oral Histories of Environmental Illness series. Experiences Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). Participates in several civic groups to protect the environment from pesticide and herbicide spraying. Runs a fragrance-free bed and breakfast in Oregon.
Processing of Interview:
The interviewer prepared for the interview by reading a pre-interview questionnaire completed by the narrator.
1 hr
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
Chemical Entanglements: Oral Histories of Environmental Illness is a collection of interviews with over seventy individuals living in the U.S. and Canada whose family history, occupation, art practice, or activism have brought them into direct contact with illness experience and disability related to chronic, low-dose exposure to toxicant chemicals. The procurement of this collection (from March 2019 through September 2020) was sponsored by the UCLA Center for the Study of Women under the directorship of Rachel C. Lee, with interviews conducted by six undergraduates, five graduate students, two career staff, and two faculty members at CSW.
Intro and small talk, how Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) pushed her to become healthier--How she became sick while working in a temporary building for an international bank--Leaving her job, filing for workers’ compensation and Disability, and her experience with doctors--Early sensitivities before realizing she had MCS--Family’s varied responses to her MCS and her husband’s support--Navigating triggers while out in public--Advocacy to stop pesticide and herbicide spraying in public areas--Use of online support groups--Running a fragrance-free bed and breakfast from her home--How MCS has affected her financially--Her experience catching COVID and experience with social distancing--Surrounding herself with healthy, holistic people, and starting the Dynamic Neural Retraining System--Discussion on race, gender identity, and chemical illness, and hopes for the future--Ending notes