So, what IS that scent you are wearing? There are no laws requiring the manufacturers of perfumes and other scented products to inform you of their ingredients. When byproducts form by combining them, they don’t have to tell consumers that either.
In the US the word "fragrance" on your ingredients list can be up to 200 undisclosed chemicals, from a pool of 2000, that do not have to be tested for safety. In fact, many of them are known to cause health problems.
It is no wonder that 30% of Americans have reactions ranging from noticeable to debilitating to such products and other chemicals. An estimated 4-6% of these people are forced to change their daily lives dramatically due to severe sensitivity to chemicals. These people suffer an invisible illness, that recieves little recognition. Acknowledgement would point the finger at the big business of chemical production and use, and there are 80,000 chemicals in products used by Americans every day.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, or MCS, is a disability that causes individuals to react to even the lowest levels of toxics because of previous chemical exposure. New exposures do not "bother" but further "injure" those with prior chemical injury.
Inundated with pollutants and toxins it is impossible for those affected with MCS to carry on their lives as usual. This includes family and friends. If they want to assist in the better health and maintain a relationship with their loved one, they must make the neccessary changes of eliminating such products from their environment.
Those who develop this lowered tolerance are often industrial workers, occupants in "tight" buildings, residents from contaminated communities, war veterans and individuals with personal exposures to chemicals in a world growing more toxic.
When I was young my neighborhood was sprayed with organophosphate pesticides to control mosquitos. My health problems began in those early years although my awareness of MCS occurred only somewhat recently.
I began researching the pesticides that "fogged" the residential area in Michigan where I had lived. Among other health problems, I had sinus complications, digestive problems, earaches, leg and foot cramps, and migraine headaches.
I noticed my sensitivity when I began to remove chemicals from my environment. This state of constant existence within chemical environments can "mask" the condition. There’s no denying it now. I keep an airpurifier at home and wear a small one while working. There is no chemical free place so I wear a mask when I have to go out.A clinical detoxification called an "unmasking" would place the patient in a room completely chemical free down to the adhesives used to hold the room together. The patient would then be held for several days before their reactions to chemicals were tested.
What You Can Do
Currently there are no such facilities. Coupled with the fact that only a small percentage of doctors in the United States are familiar with environmental illnesses like MCS, patients often elude diagnosis or are treated with pharmaceuticals (chemicals) for their symptoms.Treatment should consist largely of avoidance of chemicals, immune system support and detoxification.Funding is needed on the federal and state levels for public awareness campaigns and support for individuals already suffering.
May was MCS Awareness Month, but anytime is a good time to start checking labels for harmful chemicals. Not everything is on the label, so some diligence is required. A study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that half of infant products contain carcinogens such as formaldehyde. It can be a challenge, but it's worth it. Healthy chemical free replacements are out there.
Consider using an organic fertilizer on your lawn next year, or go "fragrance free"—it is possible! These small changes promote a healthy life for you and your family, and they will make a world of difference to the "masked" MCS sufferers in your life.