Guest Post by Leah Spitzer
I have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) – a “multi-system illnesses as a result of contact with, or proximity to, a variety of airborne agents and other substances. (Environmental Protection Agency).” In other words, I react to fragrances, building products and more. It is not a histamine reaction, but rather, a systemic reaction to the chemicals in fragrance and other products.
As someone with MCS, I’m also known as a “canary” with deference to the Canaries in the Coal Mine. As a canary, I often encounter looks of disbelief when I mention I can smell someone’s laundry detergent, or fragrance. I can smell it on them, their dog, their cat, their clothes, or even the package they are bringing me. I smell it in their home and in their car.
Often times, if it’s just a passing moment, I try to step back, or just tough it out, but sometimes I have to speak out. When I do, the most common response, after the surprised look, are:
“I didn’t put any perfume on this morning”
“I don’t smell anything”
Why the disparity in perception? There are several reasons that I have observed: