- About Fragrances: Did you know.. Fragrances can make you ill.
- Chemical Sensitivity Leaflet
- Food, Mood And Behaviour
- Impacts Of Environmental Toxins On The Health Of Children
- Is It Really Migraine?
- Need to take a medication: some things you may need to consider.
- Pesticides They're Everywhere
- Template Sample Letters For Schools
- School Emergency Action Plan
- Chemical Sensitivity: Is there a problem? : A Consumer Point of View
- Chemical Injury
- Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: A 1999 Consensus
- Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: 2006 Review of the Evidence
- Disability Rights
- Disability Job Access in Australia
- Information on Applying For Low Allergy Housing
- Template Letter Applying For Low Allergy Housing
- Location, Housing Material and Design Guidelines
- Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
- Where To Find a Medical Practitioner
- Dealing with Hospitalisation and Emergency Surgery when Allergy, Food and Chemical Sensitivity are Complicating Factors.
- Health Information Template
- Australian Government Review of MCS 2006 -
- Fragrance, Perfume, Scent Information
- Formaldehyde in Clothing
- Medication Information
- Chemically sensitive! Dog got fleas!
- Medications for use with a Low Phenolic Diet
- MCS News
- A Guide to Living with MCS
MCS Visitors Guidelines 2008 - SECTION 3 Chemicals and Products of Importance when visiting MCS
|MCS - ASEHA MCS Publications|
SECTION 3 Chemicals and Products of Importance when visiting MCS
What chemicals produce adverse health effects in MCS?
Over the last few decades of technological advances, both the number of chemicals in use and the amount of industrial and consumer products that contain them have increased. Chemicals includes solvents, those found in pesticides, herbicides, cigarette smoke, petrol and diesel fumes, chemicals in plastics, printing inks, paints, food additives, colours, fragrances, preservatives to name a few. A person with MCS can adversely react to such chemicals and products containing them.
Everybody is exposed to this huge mixture of chemicals in their occupational, domestic and recreational life. Biomonitoring studies indicate that people are absorbing and retaining chemicals they are being exposed to in the environment; it is not just a problem for those with MCS. The difference in MCS is that these chemical sensitivities are severe to the point that it destroys the ability to have a normal life. This normal life includes such things as, being able to work and earn a living, go shopping, go to school, attend medical and other health facilities, socialise, playing in or attend sporting events, entering a shopping mall. Even buying food and normal everyday products such as toilet paper, shampoo, soaps etc is difficult. Try finding a consumer product that does not contain amongst its many ingredients - fragrance.
The individual chemicals aren’t the only problem; the mixtures of chemicals in any one product combined can be many times more toxic than that calculated for each one individually. Some examples of the mixtures in consumer ‘fragranced’ products are discussed below. Insecticides may contain amongst ingredients a chemical that blocks the enzyme used by the insect to detoxify the active ingredient. This may not be at levels expected to affect human adults, but for someone with MCS who is already unable to deal with the toxin the combination usually exacerbates the problem.
In the context of visiting someone with MCS, the following products and chemicals are of major importance:
- Perfumes/Fragrances in Personal Care Products
- Laundry detergents containing scents/fragrances
- Pesticide contamination on clothing or from clothing treatments, insect sprays, pesticide bracelets and anklets
- Industrial chemicals which are ubiquitous and used in large variety of products Eg Formaldehyde.
- Contamination maybe present on clothing from laundry detergents, fabric treatment or dry cleaning, shoes, accessories such as hand bags.
Perfumes and Fragranced Products
For the majority of MCS sufferers components of fragrance and fragranced products can cause debilitating symptoms. Fragrances and fragranced products are a major detriment to building access and the provision of services to persons with MCS.
Fragrance and fragranced products are extremely difficult to avoid. They contribute to indoor air pollution and can cause sick building syndrome (SBS.) SBS can cause headaches, irritation to the throat, eyes and nose, dizziness, poor concentration and memory recall, fatigue and chemical sensitivity.
There are numerous types of synthetic and ‘natural’ fragrances used in consumer products. Synthetic musk compounds are cheap and used widely. ‘Natural’ Essential oils are volatile compounds that can also trigger reactions in chemically sensitive persons (they are also used as industrial solvents). The ‘inert’ chemicals present in cosmetics, fragrances & fragranced products (eg solvents, colours, fillers & preservatives) are also a major source of exposures but this time ‘hidden’ in the ingredients list. Some are known to be sensitizers and allergens.
Fragrances are also specifically designed to last and because of this they will linger on cloth materials and take weeks, months, or even years to fully dissipate.
Common Fragranced Products
- Perfumes, Aftershaves
Garbage bin liners
For more information on fragrances see the ASEHA Leaflet Series – About Fragrances, Did you know!; Indoor Air Pollution and Allergy and Your Skin.
Uses for pesticides have also increased and now include garbage bin liners, in paints, in wallpaper as well as insecticide sprays, baits, lawn and garden treatment. Pesticides and herbicides are used in public buildings, access areas, parks and road verges, during summer months the use of these chemicals significantly increases. For more information on pesticides see the ASEHA Leaflet Series – Pesticides – They’re Everywhere.
Industrial/ Ubiquitous chemicals – Example formaldehyde
Formaldehyde sensitivity is common amongst MCS individuals and the chemical is ubiquitous – it is used in building products, clothing, perfumes, glues, fabrics. Many internal furnishings are made from chipboard which outgases formaldehyde, especially in kitchens. For more information on environmental toxins see the ASEHA Leaflet Series – Impact of Environmental Toxins on Children and the ASEHA article Formaldehyde in Clothing.
Why is using your own discretion in choosing suitable products not a good idea?
Ingredient labels don’t always help to avoid chemical sensitisers.
Consumers generally rely on product labels to assist them to make an informed choice, but labels are not necessarily helpful in this regard as not all ingredients are listed. Here are some pitfalls to consider as all of these types of products will cause adverse health effects in individuals with MCS
Fragrance and other consumer products may consist of formulations that are trade secrets and are not required to be listed on the ingredient label.
Other Ingredients not required to be listed on labels are those in concentrations lower than one percent.
Products can still be labeled ‘unfragranced’, ‘fragrance free’ or ‘unscented’, if the ‘fragrance’ is used as a masking scent. Surprisingly some ‘fragrance free’ labeled products will have fragrance in the ingredient listing.
Reading all ingredient labels carefully is essential. Some products e.g. paints, are labeled ‘hypoallergenic’ or ‘low allergy’, these may contain less solvents or additives but they are not entirely eliminated. There is no guarantee that products with these labels are safe for someone with allergy or chemical sensitivity.
Fragrance is not the only problem for MCS and just because something is fragrance free does not mean it is safe. A prime example of this is the new insecticide spray Aeroguard that is ‘fragrance free’. Without a good understanding of MCS a ‘visitor’ may use this product thinking it would be acceptable, after all it’s fragrance free – but this would be a disastrous mistake!
If in doubt about any products always ask before you visit. Do not trust your own instincts
Last Updated (Wednesday, 06 July 2011 00:44)