Chemical exposures are endemic to our modern industrial society. The concept
and effects of low level chemical exposures have far reaching implications
for medicine, public health, and environmental policy. Different medical
of the definition, diagnosis and treatment of the disease further fuel controversy
between medical fields, the chemical industry, employers and
MULTIPLE CHEMICAL SENSITIVITY (MCS) or Environmental Illness (EI) is a chronic
condition caused by exposure to synthetic, petroleum-derived chemicals found
in products such as pesticides, perfume, building materials, carpets,
paint, exhaust, cleaners, tobacco smoke, and food additives.
MCS/EI affects multiple organ systems (respiratory, digestive,
neurological, musculoskeletal, reproductive) and commonly includes symptoms such
as difficulty breathing and concentrating; migraines; loss of memory and coordination;
dizziness; seizures; sore throats; abdominal pain; weakness and
fatigue; joint and muscle pain; heart irregularities; chronic
inflammation; unusual infections; anxiety; rashes and difficulty healing.
The hallmark of MCS/EI is extreme sensitivity to odors, but many sufferers also
develop increased sensitivity to noise, light (photosensitivity), touch
sensitivity), and electromagnetic fields. Symptoms tend to worsen
exposures and decrease or resolve when incitants are removed. Acute or long-term
chemical injury is generally understood to be the cause of sensitization, though
individual susceptibility is believed to play a role.
cannot tolerate most medications for symptom relief, as pharmaceutical chemicals
add more strain to an already overloaded/damaged detoxification system, usually
causing an increase in both symptoms and sensitivity levels. There is no
known cure for MCS/EI, and the most effective treatment found to date is avoidance
of toxic chemicals, an increasingly difficult task in today's world.