Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is a sinister, quietly growing problem, both for adults in business and industry, and children at school. It is an insidious disease that can totally incapacitate its victim, without warning and, in most cases, defying diagnosis.
People with MCS may develop myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disorder, or more traditional illnesses such as asthma, multiple sclerosis, chronic dermatitis, porphyria, Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease, severe anemia, Lupus or cancer, depending on the nature and duration of the chemical exposure and the vulnerability of the target systems.
The fact that MCS victims can and often do develop "traditional" chronic diseases has far-reaching implications for medical theory as a whole. It also sheds light on the epidemic rise of chronic idiopathic diseases. Learned arguments have been made that MCS may prove to be as significant for medical history as the discovery of bacteria, which changed the understanding of disease throughout the world. Environmental toxins will do so too, according to researchers N. Ashford and M. Miller in their classic book on MCS. "We may be dealing with an emerging new mechanism or theory of disease. According to this theory, a two-step process occurs: (1) an initial salient exposure event interacts with a susceptible individual, leading to loss of that person's natural prior tolerance for everyday, low-level chemical inhalants, as well as for specific foods, drugs, alcohol, and caffeine; (2) thereafter such common, formerly well-tolerated substances trigger symptoms, thus perpetuating illness."
Bacteria, organophosphates, viruses, solvents, radiation, trans fatty acids in processed foods - they are all very similar, when seen in the light of the fundamental concept first expounded by Hippocrates 2,500 years ago, that an exterior agent, hostile to an organism's ability to function, may cause disease or systemic malfunction.
Today approximately 80,000 synthetic chemicals exist which had not yet been invented in 1950, when DDT was the most widely used toxic chemical. Since 1960, in the U.S. alone, the production of synthetic chemicals, which eventually find their way into the soil, air and water has risen from 10 billion pounds per year to the current estimate of 35 billion pounds. Of these, only about 600 are known to be carcinogenic, neurotoxic and/or teratogenic, because the rest have never been tested for safety!
The following is a list of symptoms commonly observed with MCS:
Many MCS patients become socially progressively more isolated, and their families often cannot understand what is happening. Unfortunately, MCS does not follow traditional models with respect to its expected course and prognosis. Unlike traditional illnesses, such as infectious diseases, pharmaceuticals usually do not help, but tend to make the patient sicker.
With respect to children in schools, who develop a chemical sensitivity to the glue in the carpeting, the cleaning agents in the bathrooms, the paint on the walls, and especially mold, which is omnipresent, the child is more often looked upon as a disciplinary problem than as a victim of MCS.
The more frightening aspect is that MCS is spreading. In 1950, there were only 5 entries on MCS in mainstream medical journals. By 1997, more than 25 years later, this had only increased to 120. Yet it took four but more years, until 2001, for this number to jump to 10,741.
According to Cornell University's Sandra Steingraber, a Senior Advisor to the World Health Organization, the world's economy is 'chemically addicted', and if our economy is not cured of it, experts agree, the extinction of the human race is a definite possibility. Fortunately, if caught early enough, MCS can be controlled and often reversed, to either a major or minor extent. However, the key is not in the treatment of MCS, but in the steps that must be taken to eradicate it.
The Federal Government took the first step by passing the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, which mandates that every Federal agency in making procurement decisions shall give preference to those items that are composed of the highest percentage of bio-based products. The effective date of this legislation was February and March of 2005. While Congress was probably motivated more from a desire to stimulate farm production, or possibly to cut down on our dependence upon petrochemical products, than from a concern about the environment, still the law is in place. And the USDA firmly maintains it will do all in its power to enforce it.
Another encouraging step forward occurred on August 15, 2005, when the State of New York passed legislation directing that "All State Agencies shall procure and use cleaning products having properties that minimize potential impacts on human health and the environment…" This 'green bill' went into effect as of the start of the school year, in September 2006. The State of Massachusetts is considering similar legislation.
HomeComplete, SchoolSmart, and PowerForward are as or more powerful a cleaner and degreaser as any toxic or organic home, shcool and work chemical products now on the market. It not only does a superior job, but is also entirely non-toxic, non-hazardous and totally safe for the environment. Eliminating the possibility of MSC when used. In addition, it is extremely economical to use. Custodians, homeowners and industrial businesses state that it is not only cheaper to purchase, but that it saves over 50% in labor costs, an even more significant factor, considering no safety equipment is needed.
It will take time to change habits, especially of entrenched cleaning practices and the strong personal relationships that have been created with the suppliers. However, it is imperative that it happen, and it is something that the general public is becoming increasingly aware of and will soon be demanding. To quote the old adage, nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.