Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
"Multiple Chemical Sensitivity – also referred to as MCS – is also known as Chemical Injury, Chemical Sensitivity, Environmental Illness (E.I.), and Multiple Allergy. In broad terms, it means an unusually severe sensitivity or allergy-like reaction to many different kinds of pollutants including solvents, VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds), perfumes, petrol, diesel, smoke, “chemicals” in general and often encompasses problems with regard to pollen, house dust mites, and pet fur & dander.
Multiple chemical sensitivity, unlike true allergies where the underlying mechanisms of the problem are relatively well understood widely accepted, is generally regarded as “idiopathic” – meaning that it has no known mechanism of causation and it’s processes are not fully understood. The problem here is made more difficult still, due to the variable nature of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity from one patient to the next & this often makes treatment with conventional medicine & practices ineffective or inappropriate; for most sufferers with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, the avoidance of pollutants/toxicants is the key.
What CAN be said about defining Multiple Chemical Sensitivity – and in order to help the patient decide whether they truly have MCS or another allergy-related illness – is that the following deciding criteria apply to Multiple Chemical Sensitivity:
the patient exhibits problems, often allergy-like reactions, to both large and often extremely low levels of irritants/toxicants/triggers. Other individuals present at the same time may be unable to detect anything at all or anything unusual or out of the ordinary.
the problem is ongoing, ie. chronic, and not a “one-off” event.
the same symptoms are reproducible with repeated exposure to the same triggers.
the patient is affected by many different triggers.
the patient improves when triggers are absent."
Chemical Injury Information Network (CIIN): http://ciin.org/
Focuses primarily on education, credible research into Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), and the empowerment of the chemically injured. Terrific monthly newsletter, Our Toxic Times. Hosts online chats.
Chemical Sensitivity Foundation: http://www.chemicalsensitivityfoundation.org/
Engages in scientific, charitable, and educational activities on behalf of people with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), a condition involving a wide range of symptoms triggered by exposure to many everyday chemicals like perfume, diesel exhaust, fresh paint, and pesticides. Located in Maine. Alison Johnson is Chair.
Environmental Health Network: http://ehnca.org/
An extensive Web site that includes activism, advocacy, education for the general public, events for the chemically injured, and information about the impact of chemicals on health.
MCS Referral & Resources: http://www.mcsrr.org/
Professional outreach, patient support, and public advocacy devoted to the diagnosis, treatment, accommodation, and prevention of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Disorders.
Human Ecology Action League: http://members.aol.com/HEALNatnl/
Information clearinghouse with chapters and support groups around the county. HEAL provides information pertaining to the health effects of chemical exposures, from scientific and personal perspectives, including brochures, information packets, reading & resource lists, research bibliographies, a national directory of environmental consultants, and quarterly publication of The Human Ecologist.
Articles About MCS:
"Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome"
Article from the American Family Physician that describes MCS syndrome.
"A New Disease Mechanism?"
Comprehensive discussion of MCS from Rachel's Environment Weekly newsletter (of the Environmental Research Foundation). Plain talk with scientific explanations.
"Multiple Chemical Sensitivities Under Siege" by Ann McCampbell, MD
Originally published in The Townsend Letter , this exhaustively researched and thoroughly documented article provides convincing evidence for the chemical industry's stake in discrediting people with MCS and the doctors and agencies that help them.
Barbara Robertson's Website: http://members.tripod.com/~Barbara_Robertson/MCS.html
Has a links section about women and disability.
Helle Kongevang's Website: http://www.mcshelle.dk/
The personal Web site of a Danish woman. Click the menu button to read in English.
Jacki's Website (Our Little Place): http://www.ourlittleplace.com/
A personal Web site, includes a range of topics including MCS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, health risks of perfume & other scented products, "Guidelines for Non-Toxic Living," information on detox baths, resources, links, and on-line ordering of MCS books.
Mary Kempf's Website: http://www.ctaz.com/~bhima/
One of the most extensive MCS web sites of resources and information. Includes pages on emergency information for MCS/EIs; personal stories (of MCS/EIs and their loved ones); housing (including new homes, listings, temporary accommodations, surveys, links, retreats, building safe housing); medical, legal, and environmental consultants; neuropsychological evaluations and recovery counselors; EMF & chemical protection; pesticide; activism; spiritual support & MCS humor, songs, photos & cartoons; product resources including heat tempered eyeglasses, ozone generators, MCS/EI hospital supplies, reading and computer boxes, heaters; books; news and want ads, "What to Do if You Suspect Pesticide Poisoning," "Hospitalization & Anesthesia Guidelines."
American Academy of Environmental Medicine: http://www.aaemonline.org/
A group of clinicians from various specialties using a "comprehensive, proactive and preventive strategic approach to medical care dedicated to the evaluation, management, and prevention of the adverse consequences resulting from Environmentally Triggered Illnesses." Physician referrals available by e-mail or through the AAEM Web site.
Dr. Doris Rapp: http://www.drrapp.com/
"A board-certified environmental medical specialist and pediatric allergist, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and founder of the Practical Allergy Foundation in Buffalo. She is the author of several books, including 'Is This Your Child's World?', a comprehensive book for identifying substances which causes illness and behavioral changes in children and for providing treatment ideas."
Robbins' Environmental Medicine Center: http://www.allergycenter.com/
Dr. Albert Robbins is Board Certified in Occupational Medicine, Preventive Medicine, and Environmental Medicine. "A state-of-the art center for the diagnosis and treatment of chronic illness caused by allergy, asthma, toxicity, chemical sensitivity (MCS), chemical poisoning, food sensitivity, immune dysfunction, indoor air pollution, sick building, perfumes, pesticides, consumer products, etc.
American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM): http://www.acoem.org
ACOEM is the nation's largest medical society dedicated to promoting the health of workers through preventive medicine, clinical care, research, and education. Periodically issues position papers that set guidelines for a variety of workplace/environmental settings, covering topics such as spirometry, radon, environmental tobacco smoke, genetic screening, multiple chemical sensitivities, workplace drug screening, confidentiality of medical information, workers' compensation reform, and reproductive hazards.
Allergy Mailing List- http://www.Immune.Com/allergy/
Discusses all types of human allergies - how allergies influence health & lifestyles, consumer experience/perspective on allergy treatments, self-help prevention of allergy symptoms, allergy self-care, and support systems. Related topics: hives, sinusitis, asthma, itchiness, rashes, puffiness, nasal & respiratory difficulties.
Chemical Injury Information Network (CIIN): http://ciin.org/
hosts online chats for members. To get a weekly schedule of CIIN chats, password, and access to chats, become a member of CIIN.
A listserv for people (and their family, friends, and medical care workers) with various immune-system related ailments such as: chronic fatigue syndrome, candida, lupus, fibromyalgia, Epstein-Barr, multiple allergies, environmental illness, chemical sensitivity, etc., and the symptoms that result from any of the above, including learning disabilities, migraines, asthma, hypoglycemia, etc.
MCS-IMMUNE-NEURO- Subscription Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the body of the e-mail you will write: SUBSCRIBE MCS-IMMUNE-NEURO <Your Name>.A discussion group for people with MCS/Chemical Injury, Desert Storm Illness, Agent Orange exposures, silicone injuries, porphyria and other autoimmune diseases and nervous system disorders that resulting from, or or exacerbated by, chemical exposures. Promotes information exchange (medical and scientific studies); a friendly forum for discussions regarding symptoms, medical tests/treatments and lifestyle changes; a supportive environment toward regaining health and improving lives; hope for recovery. Owner/Moderator: Ginny Kloth (email@example.com)
"Environmental Health Group Releases Housing Survey Results":
Press release documenting the level of homelessness and housing crisis for people with MCS in Western Massachusetts.
HEAL of Southern Arizona, Housing Guide: http://www.healsoaz.org/housing.htm
A good, general-purpose guide to MCS housing issues and resources, includes: public housing, selecting a location, MCS apartments, official MCS communities, short term rentals and traveling, camping, temporary lodging, rentals, organizations for creating housing/planned communities, advocating for low-income safer accessible housing.
Housing for MCS/EI's: http://www.ctaz.com/~bhima/housing.htm
A variety of housing-related resources for people with MCS.
Healthy Home Building, Consultation, and Testing: http://www.air-testing.com/
Indoor air quality testing and mold remediation services.
Anderson Laboratories, Inc.: http://www.andersonlaboratories.com
Indoor air quality testing; information about health effects of indoor air pollution, sick building syndrome, MCS, asthma; sells published research papers & videos showing toxic effects of indoor air pollutants; tests any items (carpet, mattress, perfume, etc.) or indoor air sample for toxic chemicals; special situations & personal consultations.
NACUL (Nature/Culture) Center For Environmental Architecture: http://www.nacul.com
Ecological architecture, green building.
Small and Fleming Limited: http://www.envirodesic.com
Works with builders, manufacturers and service-providers to produce healthier and more environmentally compatible buildings, products, and services"; sells "products which contribute to Maximum Indoor Air Quality"; Internet networking for builders and marketers; work with corporations, governments, nonprofit agencies and individuals on a consulting basis to "conduct research, modify their markets, extend their Internet presence and to effect beneficial and healthy physical changes in the human and natural environments of the people and regions they serve.
Takes your new home ideas or existing home and creates a less toxic, healthier living environment for you and your family.
Healthy Home Builder: http://www.healthy-homes.com
Architectural designs, prefab homes, healthy trailers (rebuilt airstreams), healthy vehicles, MCS & indoor air quality info. Also conducts lectures & consultation on healthy schools & day care centers and other children's environments.
EnviroHome, Inc.: http://www.envirohome.com
National inspectors for home hazards including asbestos, lead, radon, VOCs, formaldehyde, mold/mildew, electromagnetic fields, underground storage tanks, & external environmental factors. Also provides home air quality test kit and information on landlord/tenant responsibilities.
Beyond Pesticides: http://www.beyondpesticides.org/
Formerly NCAMP. Provides information on pesticides and alternatives. Effects change through local action, assisting individuals and community-based organizations to stimulate discussion on the hazards of toxic pesticides, while providing information of safe alternatives. Publishes a wide variety of materials, including Pesticides and You and the Technical Report. Convenes the annual National Pesticide Forum.
Extensive index providing links to research on health disorders resulting from exposure to common chemicals and pesticides; includes child cancers, neurological disorders, immune system weakening, asthma, allergies, infertility, miscarriage, and disorders in children such as learning disabilities, mental retardation, hyperactivity and attention deficit disorders.
EXTOXNET (The EXtension TOXicology NETwork): http://extoxnet.orst.edu/
Developed by toxicologists and chemists, "a source of objective, science-based information about pesticides - written for the non-expert." The EXTOXNET database provides a variety of information about pesticides, including Pesticide Information Profiles (PIPs), Toxicology Information Briefs (TIBs), fact sheets, newsletters, resources for toxicology information, and technical information.
Non-Toxic Pest Control/No Pesticides: http://www.getipm.com/sitemap.htm
Steve Tvedten's newly updated site, packed with information on the pesticide issue. Steve is a former pesticide applicator who became chemically sensitive from pesticides. He has been actively creating and advocating alternatives to pesticides.
Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP): http://www.pesticide.org
NCAP provides information about pesticide hazards & safer alternatives, and conducts advocacy and activism to reduce the use of pesticides and increase the public's right to know all the ingredients in pesticide products. Publishes the Journal of Pesticide Reform.
Sick School Syndrome & Children's Resources- California Safe Schools: http://www.calisafe.org/
Provides information on implementing less-toxic pest management in schools, protecting at-risk children, and other information on environmental issues at public schools.
The Children's Environmental Health Network: http://www.cehn.org/
A national multi-disciplinary advocacy and education organization whose mission is to protect the fetus and the child from environmental health hazards and promote a healthy environment. Site provides information on the Network, the issue of children's environmental health, legislative activism, and links to sources of information and resources in the field, including the Resource Guide on Children's Environmental Health and the Training Manual on Pediatric Environmental Health.
Preventing Harm: http://www.preventingharm.org
A resource and action center on children and the environment. Includes In Harm's Way , a report authored by Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility, linking chemicals widely used by industry and commonly found at home to learning, behavioral, and developmental disabilities.
Safe Schools: http://www.head-gear.com/SafeSchools/
Irene Wilkenfeld was a school teacher until she, along with some of her students, was chemically injured by the school where she worked. Irene, now an environmental health consultant, educates the public about the danger of sick schools. Her Web site contains information on classroom contaminants, symptoms & statistics on Sick School Syndrome, workshops on safe schools, books, and links.
"The Healthy School Handbook", by Norma L. Miller, Ed.D. (NEA Professional Library, 1995).
To order, call (800) 229-4200.
"Is This Your Child's World? How You Can Fix the Schools & Homes That Are Making Your Child Sick" by Doris Rapp, M.D. (Bantam Books, 1996).
"Our Children's Toxic Legacy: How Science & Law Fail to Protect Us From Pesticides" by John Wargo (Yale University Press, 1996).
"Poisoning Our Children: Surviving in a Toxic World" by Nancy Sokol Green (Noble Press, 1991).
"Raising Children Toxic Free: How to Keep Your Child Safe from Lead, Asbestos, Pesticides & Other Environmental Hazards" by Drs. Herbert L. Needleman and Philip J. Landrigan (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1994).
"Resource Guide on Children's Environmental Health" by the Children's Environmental Health Network, 1997. To order: (510) 450-3818.
"Why Can't My Child Behave? Why Can't She Cope? Why Can't He Learn?" by Jane Hersey of the Feingold Association of America (Pear Tree Press,1996).
"The Impossible Child at School and at Home (Set of Three Videos)" by Doris Rapp, M.D. http://www.drrapp.com/
"Is This Your Child?" by Doris Rapp, M.D.
American Environmental Health Foundation: http://www.aehf.com/
Research, education, and sales related to chemical sensitivity. Information and sales of a wide variety of environmentally safe products, including bedding, books, pollutant detection kits, supplements, saunas, personal care products. An unusual selection of masks.
Organic furniture, upholstering, fabrics, bedding. "As a result of the research to create comfortable seating for chemically sensitive individuals, we have developed a complete line of chemical free upholstered furniture. No foams, polys, or formaldehyde...nothing synthetic! All natural, all organic Furniture ingredients in our construction."
Home Environmental: http://www.homeenv.com/
Products and consulting on indoor air and water quality. Includes air filters, HEPA vacuums, water testing kits, full-spectrum lights, and allergy control.
LifeKind Products: http://www.lifekind.com
"Organic and Naturally Safer Products Made Without Harmful Chemicals." Cleaning, laundry, skin-care, and assorted other products, including oxygen bleach, window cleaner, and spray & wipe. Catalog includes a "Hazardous Chemical Glossary."
The Living Source: http://www.livingsource.com/
Masks, air and water filters, books, supplements, oxygen supplies, personal care and cleaning products for people with MCS. Specializes in safer building products (foil tape, caulking compound, stains, glues, paints, sealants.) Owned and operated by people with MCS.
Maggie's Functional Organics: http://www.organicclothes.com/
Clothing, apparel, and bedding made from certified organic cotton, wool, and linen and pesticide-free hemp. Socks, camisoles, shirts, aprons, bags, gloves, scrunchies, bedding.
Magick Botanicals: http://www.magickbotanicals.com/
Fragrance-free hair, skin, and cleaning products, including baby-care items, gel, hairspray, and powder. Owned and operated by people with MCS.
The Natural Baby Company: http://shop.store.yahoo.com/naturalbaby/
Clothing, diapers, toys, personal care, and other natural or nontoxic products for babies.
A huge array of supplements, personal care and cleaning products, air and water filters, and other environmentally safer products. Not all are MCS-safer, so specify your needs.
Hemp and organic cotton clothing, footwear (shoes, slippers, socks), bed, and bath products, as well as organic hemp & raw foods, and raw cuisine equipment. Includes infant and children's organic cotton & hemp apparel, organic cotton and hemp diapers, organic cotton toys.
American Formulating and Manufacturing (AFM): http://www.afmsafecoat.com
A wide variety of paints, sealants, stains, glues, primers, and other construction materials, all created to be less toxic and MCS-safer. Generally this translates to "premium-quality, low-odor, fast-curing, and water-based." Also sell a variety of industrial-strength, all-purpose cleaners, intended for safe use by people with MCS at home or work.
Auro USA Natural Paints and Finishes: http://www.aurousa.com
All-natural paints, stains, finishes, and adhesives. Provide complete list of ingredients.
BioShield (Paints): http://www.bioshieldpaint.com/
"The BioShield collection of paints, stains, thinners and waxes is made from naturally derived materials including citrus peel oils and solvents, essential oils, seed oils, tree resins, inert mineral fillers, tree and bee waxes, lead-free dryers, and earth pigments. Oil based finishes are made with natural and/or non-aromatic, low odor solvents. Most BioShield products are considered low-allergenic, except those containing aromatic solvents and resins." Includes BioShieldCasein milk paints.
Books on MCS:
"Chemical Sensitivity", edited by by Sherry Rogers, Don R. Bensen. McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Books; 1998.
"Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes (2nd Edition)", Nicholas Ashford and Claudia Miller. New York, NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1998.
"Defining Multiple Chemical Sensitivity", edited by Bonnye L. Matthews. McFarland & Company; 1998.
"Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: A Survival Guide" by Pamela Reed Gibson Ph.D., New Harbinger Publications; 2000.
Books on Indoor Air Quality, Non-Toxic Homes & Products
"Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living", by Annie Berthold-Bond; Three Rivers Press; 1999.
"Clean and Green: The Complete Guide to Non-Toxic and Environmentally Safe Housekeeping" by Annie Berthold-Bond, Annie Berthold Bond. Ceres Press; Updated edition, 1994.
"The Healthy House Answer Book: Answers to the 133 Most Commonly Asked Questions", by John Bower, Lynn Marie Bower. The Healthy House Institute; 1998.
"Healthy House Building for the New Millennium" by John Bower. The Healthy House Institute; 1999.
"The Healthy House: How to buy one, How to build one, How to cure a sick one (4th Revised Edition)" by John Bower. The Healthy House Institute; 2000.
"Home Safe Home: Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Everyday Toxics and Harmful Household Products in the Home" by Debra Dadd-Redalia and Debra Lynn Dadd. J. P. Tarcher; 1997.
"Indoor Air Quality Handbook" edited by John D. Spengler, John F. McCarthy, Jonathan M. Samet. McGraw-Hill Professional; 2000.
"Managing Indoor Air Quality (2nd Edition)" by Shirley J. Hansen, H. E. Burroughs. Fairmont Press; 1998.
"My House Is Killing Me! The Home Guide for Families With Allergies and Asthma" by Jeffrey C. May. Johns Hopkins University Press; 2001.
"The Natural House: A Complete Guide to Healthy, Energy-Efficient, Environmental Homes" by Daniel D. Chiras. Chelsea Green Publishing Co.; 2000.
"Prescriptions for a Healthy House (2nd Revised Edition)" by Paula Baker-Laporte, Erica Elliott, John Banta, Lisa Flynn. New Society Publishers; 2001.
"Funny, You Don't Look Sick: An Autobiography of An Illness", written and produced by Susan Abod, directed and co-produced by Lisa Pontoppidan. "An intimate portrait of a woman living day to day with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Environmental Illness told with humor and compassion." To order, send $29.95 (make the check out to S. Abod) to P.O. Box 851, Watertown, MA 02471-0851.
"Secondhand Scent: Accommodating People with MCS", by Lightspeed Productions and Boston Self Help Center. This 30 minute video includes interviews with: people with MCS talking about their lives and the accommodations friends and family have made for them; two doctors; BSHC staff; and a visiting nurse. Stresses the legal and medical importance of accommodation, provides scientific and medical facts. Closed captioned and narrated. To purchase, send a check payable to Boston Self Help Center for $30 to BSHC, 18 Williston Rd., Brookline, MA 02146. Phone/TTY: (617) 277-0080.
"Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: How Chemical Exposures May Be Affecting Your Health" is a 90 minute video, filmed in five states by award-winning filmmaker, Alison Johnson. Includes six leading national medical experts in the field, as well as fourteen patients from a variety of backgrounds telling their stories about MCS and its devastating effect on their lives. To purchase, send $22 to Alison Johnson, MCS Information Exchange, 2 Oakland Street, Brunswick, ME 04011. Or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ron Dorn).