I’ve had a lot of questions recently from our followers as to what exactly causes Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. In short, there is no easy answer, but we are here to break it down for you. Understanding the causes of MCS can help us move forward and prevent exposure as well as broaden our understanding about the topic.
Personal Trash Can
Before we can understand what exactly causes MCS, we first need to know how the body processes chemicals. Your liver does most of the work trying to filter out harmful chemicals and foreign bodies. We can refer to your body’s processes as “the trash can.”
Imagine a trashcan with a hole in the bottom. Every day we are constantly adding chemicals in the body. The trash can needs to do all it can to filter these toxins out. Everyone has different tolerances, which are represented, by the hole in the bottom. Those with higher tolerances are less likely to develop MCS than those with lower tolerances.
Simply put, garbage in, garbage out. Though if the trashcan gets too full, it spills over and causes a reaction.
We came up with three different models to help you understand this concept:
Normal Trash Can
This is the trashcan of the average person who grew up surrounded by chemicals, but not enough to cause them any physical ailment. The normal isn’t ideal, however since anyone has the ability to develop MCS.
While the hole at the bottom is substantially larger than those without chemical sensitivity, it may not be enough handle excessive and constant overexposure.
The Main Causes
At the crux of it all, Chemical Sensitivity is caused when a person is exposed to too much of a chemical. These chemicals can range from formaldehyde – a chemical commonly used in new carpets, to phalytes – used in a lot of cosmetics and perfumes, to other petroleum based products – basically anything that is derived from crude oil. There are other triggers to MCS, but we are mainly going to focus on petroleum-based products.
We broke down the types of exposure into two categories: Overexposure and Underexposure:
This is the most well known form of MCS that consists of two different causes. The first cause is a sudden-major chemical exposure that leaves the victim in a debilitating state of illness or disability.
Some people are able to recover from this depending on the massive exposure while others may die within hours of initial exposure. Others may live for years trying to cope with horrible symptoms and disabilities.
An example of this form would be a farm worker that was exposed to too much DDT and died within an hour as though they were poisoned.
Another example of this would be someone who worked on an oilrig and survived a massive spill. They lived another five years with massive heart and lung problems.
Another form of overexposure is not as sudden and visible as a massive exposure. This form of exposure may take place over years and years until even a small exposure may “break the camel’s back.”
Gradual overexposure can happen to everyone, especially those who are more exposed to petrochemicals on a daily basis. These chemicals can be in your home, at work, in public places.
“Multiple Chemical Sensitivity patients are, by and large, not looking for sympathy, but are trying, to the best of their ability, to adapt their habits & lifestyle so as to mitigate or avoid these problems of multiple chemical sensitivity/multiple allergy.[i]”
“‘Toxic chemical’ route first, this is often a single gross exposure or repeated exposures to one toxin which thereafter produces a true allergic reaction on repeated exposure to the same toxin.[ii]”
“Many people with MCS associate one large chemical exposure with their decline in health. Others who report sensitivity to chemicals are not able to cite one specific exposure, but report a series of low-level exposures; and still others do not know what triggered their problems. Many know only that they seem to become ill from common chemicals.[iii]”
“People are differentially affected by these exposures and some hypothesize that genetic predispositions make some more vulnerable.[iv]”
“Persons with MCS have demonstrated physical effects such as:
- enzyme deficiencies
- airway changes
- nasal lavage effects
- restricted blood flow to the brain.[v]”
[i] (multiplechemicalsensitivity.org n.d.)
[ii] (multiplechemicalsensitivity.org n.d.)
[iii] (mcsresearch.net n.d.)
[iv] (mcsresearch.net n.d.)
[v] (mcsresearch.net n.d.)