MCS/ES (multiple chemical sensitivities / environmental sensitivities) is a disability recognized by the Canadian and Ontario Human Rights Codes. There are over a million people with doctor diagnosed MCS in Canada, and so many more all around the world.
In the US, the latest prevalence study found that “among the population, 12.8% report medically diagnosed MCS and 25.9% report chemical sensitivity.”
The term ‘sensitivities’ seems to trivialize the condition in many people’s minds.
You may wonder what’s it really like then, if it’s not trivial?
From Amy RW Marsh:
I just wrote this analogy for a person who needed one in order to understand EI/MCS:
Understand that airborne toxins are a barrier to access (and good health) as PHYSICAL as a curb is to a person who uses a wheelchair.
Now imagine that you are in a wheelchair trying to go places and do ordinary things, and there are nothing but curbs in the way.
And people tell you that you are crazy to be in that chair and don’t understand why you don’t just get up and walk like everyone else.
Then imagine that all those curbs not only make it hard for you to go places, but that they also make it hard to breathe, think, or have energy.
Imagine those curbs cause liver and kidney damage, asthma, brain fog, and more.
And yet everyone still persists in building curbs, buying even more curbs, and putting them in all kinds of places–even bathrooms and doctor’s offices, schools, grocery stores, buses, planes, workplaces, classrooms, housing, etc.
Imagine that none of your experience or training helps to get you a job, because you need a workplace without curbs.
Imagine that if you call a suicide hotline and have only ten minutes to speak with a counselor, you have to spent that time educating them about your problem with curbs and why it makes you so sad.
And then your time is up.
And then imagine that no one wants to remove any of the curbs so that you can spend time with them.
Imagine that your loved ones resent that you have a problem with curbs.
Imagine that you can’t visit people you love because their homes are full of curbs.
Imagine that you can’t get any government help to make places that don’t have curbs.
Imagine that every time you mention how the curb is in your way, someone tries to deny your lived experience.
And so on…
Image collages compiled by seriously “sensitive” to pollution.
Note that fragranced products are just the top layer of air pollution that most people with MCS, ES, EI, etc have disabling adverse effects from, and they should really be the easiest to remove since they are products of convenience, not need. People survived for centuries without adding fragrances to everything.
Once this top layer is gone, it will be easier to address some of the other layers of indoor air pollution.
Household products make surprisingly large contributions
to air pollution
“In urban areas, emissions from consumer goods such as paint, cleaning supplies and personal care products now contribute as much to ozone and fine particulate matter in the atmosphere as do emissions from burning gasoline or diesel fuel.”
Everyday products like these emit a bouquet of volatile organic compounds that contribute to air pollution.
“Beyond their immediate effects, VOCs react with other molecules in the air, such as oxygen and nitrogen oxides, to generate ozone as well as fine particulate matter. (Those nitrogen oxides come, in large part, from vehicle exhaust.) High levels of fine particulate matter make it hard to breathe and contribute to chronic lung problems (SN: 9/30/17, p. 18). And while ozone high in the atmosphere helps shield Earth from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, at ground level, it mixes with fine particulates to form breath-choking smog.”
Be Fragrance-free. It’s good for you. It’s good for me.