Long-term exposure to numerous chemicals can lead to a number of health issues, but many individuals suffer more immediate and drastic effects from these substances – a reaction that is frequently referred to as chemical sensitivity. Individuals with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, or MCS, experience a wide range of problems including asthma, migraines, severe pain and rashes in response to various everyday chemicals. These symptoms can often worsen with time.
Here’s a look at the top 10 triggers for chemical sensitivities:
10. Perfumes and Colognes
Long ago, people wore fragrant concoctions made from flowers and other natural substances. Nowadays, 95 percent of the ingredients used in perfumes and colognes are chemicals and synthetic petroleum derivatives with known toxic effects. Many migraine sufferers immediately experience severe migraines when they are even nearby others wearing perfumes and colognes. If you suspect you are sensitive to fragrance, use fragrance-free personal products, including chemical free soaps, lotions, shampoos and conditioners.
9. Flame Retardants
Despite their toxicity and questionable efficacy, flame retardants are required by law to be applied to mattresses and upholstered furniture. These chemicals can spread through the air on dust that is ingested, touched and inhaled, causing skin irritation, asthma and a wide range of long-term health problems. If you have been diagnosed with chemical sensitivity, consider buying a special mattress that does not feature harsh fire retardants.
8. Food Preservatives
Many processed foods contain a slew of preservatives used to extend shelf life. When MCS sufferers eat these foods, they may suffer from symptoms including widespread pain, bloating, nausea, low mood, anxiety and problems sleeping. If you suffer from these symptoms, stick to a whole food diet devoid of processed foods and supplement with an effective probiotic to help purge built up toxins.
7. Carpet Treatments
Most carpets fresh from the factory give off poisonous fumes for many months afterwards. PFCs and VOCs are both common in new carpets, and tannic acid and benzyl benzoate may be given off by carpet treatments designed to ward off dust mites. Sufferers often experience irritation of the eyes, skin and respiratory system. For this reason, tile, hardwood and bamboo floors are better alternatives for chemically sensitive individuals.
6. Gasoline Fumes
Gasoline quickly evaporates and gives off strong fumes that have been shown to worsen symptoms in two-thirds of patients diagnosed with immune dysfunction and chronic fatigue syndrome. Gasoline itself is easily absorbed into the skin, where it can cause instant toxic reactions and sensitization. It really goes without saying, but avoid inhaling gasoline fumes.
5. Cigarette Smoke
Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including many carcinogens. People who are very old, very young or constantly exposed to cigarette smoke can experience aggravation of allergies, asthma symptoms and severe nasal inflammation. Avoid smoking or inhaling second hand smoke whenever possible.
4. Car Exhaust
Car exhaust is loaded with toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde, a potent carcinogen. It’s also a common trigger for MCS sufferers, who become ill in response to the fumes and have to avoid cities and long periods of driving.
Volatile Organic Compounds are extremely common, and almost all of them are irritants to the body. Solvent evaporation, transportation and manufacturing all expose people to VOCS, and new homes and cars often give off high levels of VOCs for a year after being built. VOCs cannot always be detected by smell, but can be reduced with proper ventilation.
2. Cleaning Products
Personal cleansers and home cleaning products cause problems for many MCS sufferers. Residues from soaps and shampoos can often be detected easily by MCS patients from several feet away. Synthetic fragrances are to blame for many of the problems, which include sinus issues, headaches and asthma. Again, be sure to use fragrance-free personal products. Likewise, use gentle home cleaning products, like EM-1 which rely on natural biology to clean the area rather than harsh chemicals.
1. Laundry Detergent
Analyses of dryer vents have detected more than 25 VOCs from scented detergents. Symptoms of exposure vary, and patients may suffer headache, acne, hives, migraines and general skin irritation after wearing clothes washed with these products. Always use a gentle, fragrance-free detergent.