MCS–Possible Causes and Problem Chemicals

From my research, a number of possible causes of Toxic Injury/Multiple Chemical Sensitivity stand out.  They include:

  • pesticides, particularly when they are misused
  • a “sick building” (build-up of chemicals in a building from sources such as carpet, the air intake accidentally drawing roofing chemicals/sealants into the building, gas leak, etc.)
  • indoor mold
  • building or home renovations
  • Gulf War Syndrome (chemicals/environmental problems encountered during the Gulf War)
  • Valdez Oil Spill clean-up (direct contact with oil)
  • 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center  (The burning of all kinds of man-made materials created a huge amount of air-borne chemicals in one place.)

Some people do not know how they got MCS.  There is evidence that lower amounts of chemicals over a long period of time can trigger it.

This is a list of chemicals/substances commonly reported to cause symptoms once a person has developed MCS (with some alternatives listed as well for your convenience):

  • perfume
  • cologne
  • scented candles
  • paraffin
  • air fresheners-“air  poisoners” I call them
  • other scents
  • fabric softeners
  • laundry detergents (We use vinegar & baking soda.)
  • lotions, hand cream, sunscreen, etc.  (A friend made us some wonderful beeswax-based lotion.  We use hats, umbrellas, shade, etc. instead of sunscreen.)
  • shampoos  (We use castile soap and sometimes vinegar rinse.)
  • soaps  (We use castile soap.)
  • hand sanitizers
  • tar, asphalt shingles, & related products
  • sealants, caulk  (Safer products can be found.)
  • carpet, carpet pads (Ceramic tile apparently is by FAR the best and the most inert flooring.  But avoid Microban (a chemical), lead, and other toxic glazes.)
  • laminate flooring
  • paneling
  • paint (Plain plaster with no additives is better.)
  • stain
  • varnish
  • particle board, pressed wood products–largely because of the glues used
  • insulation
  • foam
  • flame retardant chemicals (in furniture, etc.)
  • stain-resistant chemicals (in furniture, carpet, etc.)
  • solvents
  • vinyl
  • plastics of all types  (You can imagine how many products this affects!!!  We found a washing machine with a metal tub, but it still has a “new plastic” smell that makes me sick if I go into the room with it running.  It does not seem to negatively affect our clothes, though.  We still use plastic bags, though we are trying to move more and more to glass jars.  Plastic wrap seems to be slightly better than bags.)
  • inks, particularly newspaper ink and colored inks in books
  • synthetic fabrics
  • propane, natural gas, burning oil
  • charcoal, wood, leaf, or other burning
  • cigarette smoke
  • household cleaners and other household chemicals
  • bleach  (We use a filter on our shower which helps some with the city’s “bleach” treatment in the water.  Obviously, one can’t drink bacteria-contaminated water!  🙂 )
  • all kinds of pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides (sadly sometimes even “natural” pesticides)
  • mold, both indoor and outdoor, all kinds (not just the most toxic kinds)

Some people with MCS also have electromagnetic field (EMF) sensitivities.  I have not had any problem with this since we left Indiana and possibly just a little bit recently as I have gotten sicker.

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