The Threshold Issue of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

Multiple chemical sensitivity is a more profound topic than we realize.  While 25.6 million Americans have been diagnosed with some level of MCS, the ongoing introduction of more chemicals and lifetime exposures means that this population is constantly touching more and more people.

Multiple chemical sensitivity is also called "Environmental illness" "Sick Building Syndrome", "Building Related Illness" and "idiopathic environmental intolerance."   And the reactions are not all the same and may be very unique to the person.  While one person reacts to perfume or cologne in the workplace, another person reacts to certain types of plastic.  

The symptoms people report are wide-ranging. They include headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, congestion, itching, sneezing, sore throat, chest pain, changes in heart rhythm, breathing problems, muscle pain or stiffness, skin rash, diarrhea, bloating, gas, confusion, trouble concentrating, memory problems, and mood changes.

Other problems are tobacco smoke, auto exhaust, certain cleaning products, detergents, insecticide, new carpet, chlorine, and more.

Those feelings are real. But they can happen for many reasons. The question is whether MCS is an illness. Health experts don’t agree on that. The American Medical Association doesn’t consider multiple chemical sensitivity to be an illness, even though doctors are regularly diagnosing patients with chemical sensitivities, but categorizing the problems like allergies.

MCS is often triggered by either a toxic overload event or exposure to chemicals over an extended period of time.  Either way, once that threshold has been crossed, there is no going back.  The person must now regulate their behavior and environment or suffer the consequences of yet another very bad day.

Because MCS is a threshold event, no one should tempt fate and carelessly accept routing exposure to the complex concoction of chemicals, toxins, and pollution that create the hostile environment of a sick or toxic building.  Every business, office, school, workplace, or public area should be tested and surveyed.  Prevention of toxic buildings is the proactive approach that will prevent a constant flow of people who eventually reach their toxic toleration level.

The threshold concept of MCS is like putting fire alarms in buildings.  As long as there is no fire, fire alarms are useless.  But when there is a fire, we are very glad that we had some warning.  Sadly, there is no toxic alarm for buildings, but an IAQ Specialist can do simple tests and surveys in order to evaluate the building IAQ condition.  If there is an issue, then the solution is fairly simple.

The bonus to treating the toxic issues of a building is that other air quality issues are typically resolved as well.  This includes sanitizing against infectious disease, particulates in the air, odd odors, and mold concerns.