COLUMBIA - Maryanne Van Buskirk was only six weeks old when her parents found out she had allergies with much stronger reactions than most.
"I get to the point where I can't breath," Van Buskirk said. "My throat swells up, my lungs swell; I've even had a reaction where the brain swells."
Van Buskirk uses a wheelchair now because she says her allergies have become so bad. She said she cannot be around any sort of sweet or fruity smells, or pollen.
Now a retired minister, Van Buskirk's last church was well aware of her situation and took the necessary measures so she could do her job effectively.
"People in the congregation didn't realize that they were having headaches every time they went home from church, and it was because of the scents and perfumes and colognes," Van Buskirk said. She said when the congregation stopped wearing scents for her benefit, they found they felt better, too.
One other solution to her allergies was to uses basic products such as baking soda, vinegar and dishing soap to do household chores.
"I can't use anything that have the scents with them because it causes me to not be able to breath," Van Buskirk said.
But don't think that Van Buskirk's house smells like vinegar and baking soda because it's not like she is allergic to everything. She will boil water with vanilla bean and cinnamon so a pleasant aroma circulates throughout her home.
"It cost a lot less money to use some of these products, they're not nearly as hard on the environment and they're not nearly as hard on you" Van Buskirk said.
"Make sure that beyond saving money, you have less toxic footprint on the environment at large," Monta Welch, founder of Columbia Climate Change Coalition, said.
Van Buskirk said while most people do not have as extreme a situation as she has, it is important to be aware of those that surround you.
"You don't know what the next person's reaction's gonna be to what you have on," Van Buskirk said.