Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
We are including this page as an information page as we have been living with MCS in our home for at least 15 years. I say “at least” because that is when symptoms became more obvious and sent us on our personal quest for cause. If we would only have known earlier what was causing an array of odd symptoms we are certain that avoidance of the chemical offenders would have resulted in a healthier life and chronic conditions could have been avoided or lessened. We are relaying our personal experience here, similar to many dealing with a sensitivity to a chemical or several chemicals and do not mean it as a substitute for medical advice or for treatment of any condition. This is just more information for your health journey with the hopes that it may help in putting some on the right path or increase understanding of this affliction.
BACKGROUND: Generally healthy person grew up in a grain farming household with chronic eczema on legs since childhood, remembers back pain as early as mid-teens, always needed to use lip balms, lotions for dry skin and nasal sprays as the nasal passages would plug solid yet run. Personally did not use much for scented products, grew up in the 60’s. In late teens-early twenties had trade in auto body repair. Allergy testing has been done by a Specialist for possible natural offenders like dust, pollen, etc. When tests came back negative sent back to GP with recommendation of an antihistamine.
THE FACTS: Most, even some in the medical community do not quite understand the whole body effect which plagues those dealing with MCS. My goodness most think of it as just a runny nose! As the condition progresses many lose all ability to remain in an area with the chemical offender, even in the most minute amounts which may not be detectable by the majority of the population. Unfortunately, in more cases than not, most familiar with the sufferer are not willing to understand the all encompassing nature of this condition or will not give up their favourite personal care products. The sufferer often becomes detached from friends and family as they are unable to be in an area with someone carrying the chemical offender or in an area which contains chemical offenders without becoming very ill. We have come to call this ugly time as being “poisoned” as the body truly does react that way. The sufferer often feels misunderstood, ignored and alienated. As it is a little understood condition many balk at their plight and make light of it. It is almost impossible to determine which chemical or chemicals are making you ill as there are tens of thousands being used everywhere in personal care products, cleaning products, scented candles, air fresheners and laundry products. Many of the same artificially synthesized chemical scents will be found crossing categories so the chemical offender may repeat in many different products of totally unrelated nature.
THE NUMBERS: There are hundreds of thousands of chemicals approved for use in pesticides, fertilizers, manufacture, cleaning and personal care products. There are more than 80,000 chemicals in use in North America which have never even been tested for their toxic effects on our health or on the environment. From the Environmental Protection Agency website: "Of the 10,500 chemical ingredients used in the personal care products, just 11% have been assessed for health and safety. Hundreds of chemicals – some safe and some known to be hazardous – are present in our personal care products. Because countless new compounds are developed each year, it’s hard for consumers to know about them all. The good news is that there are some easy and affordable alternatives available to every consumer."
There are about 4000 chemicals approved for use in the ingredient “parfum” or “fragrance” alone. Chemicals found in household cleaning and laundry products don’t even have to be listed on ingredients. The average person at any given time now wears 15-18 chemically scented products on their bodies. This includes laundry soap and fabric softener residue, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, body sprays, perfumes and colognes, deodorant or antiperspirant, hair styling products and hairspray, body lotions, hand lotions, hand sanitizers, sunscreens and even most makeup now carries a chemical scent.
THE SYMPTOMS: Chronic exposure without avoidance can produce a myriad of symptoms and may compound into unexplainable allergies and autoimmune issues. The good news is that with diligent avoidance you can live a healthy life, different from the mainstream, but healthy. The sooner one starts doing so the better as troublesome symptoms can lead to lifelong health complications. The condition does progress with the body being less and less tolerant to exposure over time leading in some cases to full disability.
We hope that we can remember all of the symptoms, there was quite a list. Most are gone now, stubborn avoidance of known offenders is of the utmost importance. On occasion when exposure is unavoidable some symptoms will return with a vengeance and then subside with avoidance again. Most times with low dose exposure flu symptoms arise as in weak, achy, cold, a bit feverish, nauseated, loose stools and tired. Other regular symptoms: Dizziness, nausea, stomach cramping, neck pain, headache/migraine, plugged up yet running nose, irritation, jittery, weak, anxiety, overwhelming need to leave the area - panic attack, mental confusion, inability to concentrate on the simplest of tasks, exhaustion, no energy or will to do required work, blood pressure spikes, heart racing, an uncomfortable “feeling the heartbeat hard” as if it is going to come out of your chest, breathing difficulties with an asthma-like attack, full blown asthma attack, “full” feeling in the head with an uncomfortable pressure, insomnia, acid reflux, bloating as in belching and gas, itchy skin, chronic dry skin, uncontrollably itchy scalp which feels like something is crawling, crawly feelings on the face, disorientation, uncontrollable hunger, agitated, argumentative, difficulty understanding what is being said, unable to reason tasks with numbers with ratios or percentages. This doesn’t mean that they all happened at the same exposure time. We would notice different ones at different times with sometimes a dozen occurring at once.
If not removed from the area quickly or sometimes with only a minute of exposure in some cases of commercial cleaning chemicals: leg weakness - difficulty standing and walking, drunken appearance, slurred words, vomiting, spontaneous diarrhea, agitation and disagreeable nature, bloating so bad it took us to the hospital. There was so much bloating in the stomach that it pushed up the diaphragm which in turn pushed up on the lungs and made it difficult to breathe. If in an area of exposure for too long sometimes there is the inability to smell the chemicals at all but unfortunately they are still doing the same damage.
In the longer term: Have developed an issue with smoke which causes asthma attacks, have come to learn that apparently this is a common cross issue for those with MCS. Over the years have discovered or developed a nut allergy to shea butter found in margarines which also may be used as a cocoa butter substitute in all chocolate without being labeled as it is considered to be of acceptable use in production as a “cocoa butter equivalent”. A Medic Alert bracelet is now worn at all times with instructions to transport with oxygen as the back of a small ambulance with hand sanitizers, attendant laundry scents or personal care products, cleaning chemicals, etc. could put an already sick or injured body into possible deadly crisis. Suspected cause of the following long term health issues: Advanced osteoarthritis in wrists, back, knee, neck. Advanced carpal tunnel in both wrists, heart misbeat.
THE TREATMENT: Avoid all exposure. Dr. suggested medicinal treatment for side effects if they are unbearable dependent upon the body's acceptance of the medication.
SNEAKY SPOTS FOR CHEMICALS and SCENTS:
Besides all of the aforementioned products which contain irritating chemical scents and other chemicals in production we have also found the following to be a source for exposure:
Scented garbage bags
Grocery Items: Chemical scents will come home attached to items from the grocery store like laundry smells, air fresheners, candles, cleaning products. This we have found from bringing stuff into our home and having to carry it back outside in order to “air out”. Much better luck doing shopping at the Health Food Store as there is less of a presence of chemical scents. Unfortunately we can’t get everything there so we must use caution.
Air Fresheners: Chemical scents can migrate attaching to clothing if someone is sitting in a car with an air freshener. A dedicated friend abstained from chemically scented laundry and personal care products but still could not remain in our home. She came to realize that the “vanilla scent” attached to her was from a sweater she always wore which she hung up at work in the bathroom area which contained a vanilla air freshener.
Scented rubber and plastics: Used to be rare, becoming more common. Will not air out, right in the product at the production level. Found in rubber balls, pet toys, children’s toys, floor mats, etc.
Fabric Softener designed to last for weeks: Even clothes which have not been laundered for ages or have been washed over and over again may still hold in the fibres fabric softener residue and resulting smells. Some of these products are unstoppable all right, designed to attach and stay and stay it does. This was one of our first eliminations when we started on our avoidance path, no fabric softener not even unscented, all kinds of questionable ingredients for the chemical sufferer.
New fabric or new clothes or new carpeting or new furniture: There is much chemical treatment to fabrics to deter insects, treat for stains, fire retardants and to avoid deterioration in storage. We have also found that staying with more natural fabrics is much better to avoid itchiness and irritation over synthetic fibre.
Dry Cleaning: A big AVOID. All kinds of issues relating to dry cleaning chemicals especially with children, please read further elsewhere about the dangers of dry cleaning chemicals regarding sleeping bags.
We hope that our personal experience will be of help in your wellness journey or the journey of someone you love. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, in recent years labeled Environmental Illness is an often misdiagnosed condition due to the multiple symptoms and the “remission times” when the person is not exposed. Quite perplexing indeed especially for the individual who is experiencing debilitating and terrifying symptoms upon exposure. It is a little discussed yet disabling condition which effects every aspect of the person’s life. They are unable to enter stores to shop, go to entertainment events or even open air sporting events are toxic when too many are congregated wearing chemical aggravants. It is difficult to convince others of the condition, even the medical community, and they often view the person as being “a complainer” or maybe having some other sort of “mental issue” as the sufferer often appears healthy otherwise. It can be very psychologically damaging to the sufferer when others do not believe them, will not dedicate an effort to not “poison“ them and as they watch their world become smaller and smaller with the inability to go out and to be with others which do not take a very serious and active role in their well being.
If you are encountering health issues and would like to try some varieties of our unscented pure natural soaps we would be happy to send you three free sample bars if you are willing to pay the postage. We believe in full disclosure of ingredients please see here for more details. Always best to review our detail listings as some varieties have naturally occurring scent from ingredients like extra virgin olive oil, raw organic cocoa butter and organic hemp seed oil.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Advise us which selection you would like. We will PayPal invoice you for the shipping cost of $3.50.
Limit of one selection to each household please.
Soap Selection I
Natural Goat Milk Soap
Olive Oil Only Castile Soap
Unscented Basic Pure Natural Soap
Soap Selection II
Vegan varieties: Olive Oil Only Pure Castile Soap, Unscented Basic Pure Natural Soap & Go Cocoa Butter! Head-To-Toe Body Shampoo.
Note: "Unscented" means no scent added by way of essential oils or any scenting material. Ingredients in most cases will contribute some natural scent, as an example extra virgin olive oil smells just like that!