Lourdes Salvador's Column
...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.
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Toxic Substances as the Cause of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
by Lourdes Salvador
The symptoms of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) can usually be traced to a single acute exposure or a series of chronic low-dose exposures to toxic chemicals.
Someone who works in a restaurant that routinely sprays pesticides in the kitchen may have no symptoms for years and then suddenly develop MCS after a single pesticide application. This routine exposure is thought to lead to bioaccumulation and an eventual tipping point at which the toxicity is too great. This is commonly seen in nurses (floor wax exposure) and nail salon workers (solvents, etc) who are chronically exposed in the work place.
Other cases of MCS develop immediately after an acute (large) toxic exposure, such as a poisoning, spill at work, building renovation with poor ventilation, or an environmental disaster.
Most diseases also have a genetic component, including well known ones like diabetes and cancer. A number of studies have identified a genetic component that increases susceptibility to MCS through a reduced ability to metabolize and eliminate toxic chemicals from the body.
MCS is not strictly genetic though; anyone can develop MCS with enough toxic chemical exposure and chemical exposure. Genetics alone does not cause MCS. There must be a toxic chemical exposure for MCS to occur. It was once put that "genetics loads the gun; the environment pulls the trigger".
In addition, genes can be altered or damaged by certain chemical exposures, leading to increased susceptibility that was not present to begin with.
Researchers are just beginning to understand the synergistic effects of chemicals. Simply put, exposure to two or more chemicals at the same time may produce a toxicity related reaction that is much more potent than the two individual chemicals could produce alone. The combination increases the toxicity to a level much greater than 1 chemical + 1 chemical. The effect could be 10 fold or more when two chemicals are combined.
Since chemicals are all around us in the home, workplace, and environment, it is challenging to determine exactly what people are exposed to and how these chemicals interact in synergy with one another in the human body.
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
Copyrighted 2011 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America