Groups and individuals with an interest in Multiple Chemical Sensitivity are coming together to raise awareness of this highly distressing and disabling medical condition.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is affecting an increasing number of people around the world as our living space becomes more and more polluted by synthetic fragrances and other volatile chemicals.
We now live in a toxic soup of chemicals from glues used in carpets and manufactured wood (laminate flooring, kitchen units) to flame retardents in soft furnishings and electrical appliances.......not to mention all the chemicals we intentionally pollute the air we breath with; perfume, air fresheners, fabric softener etc.
For many people the result is MCS; an acute sensitivity to such chemicals. Once someone has become chemically sensitive even minute amounts which the sufferer may not even be able to smell can trigger a range of distressing symptoms from dizziness, fatigue and headache to serious breathing difficulties.
MCS appears to develop either after an acute exposure to a powerful chemical such as a pesticide (MCS is common among farmer workers) or after prolonged exposure to lower levels of volatile chemicals such as those mentioned above.
A number of theories exist which aim to explain the mechanisms behind MCS. These include sensitization of certain areas of the brain, allergic-type immune reactions and problems with the way the body detoxifies chemicals. It is still claimed by many that MCS is a psychological disorder. A position which is not supported by the balance of scientific evidence.
As MCS is poorly understood at present and remains a controversial diagnosis, patients often get very little help from their doctors or the State and the public remain ignorant of what sufferers go through.
In an effort to change all this Gordon D McHendry, founder of MCS International and himself an MCS sufferer, has been working towards uniting disparate groups and individuals with an interest in raising awareness of MCS.
There are a growing number of websites, organisations and groups (including The Environmental Illness Resource) which provide information on MCS, offer support to sufferers, and work towards raising the profile of the illness in society. These are usually the work of sufferers themselves or doctors who have come to recognise the reality and severity of MCS. Their efforts however have until now been isolation.
At the heart of McHendry's efforts to unite the MCS community and produce a more cohesive voice is MICAGO - MCS International Coilition of Allied Groups and Organisations.
MICAGO currently has 15 members from around the world. Besides The Environmental Illness Resource other members include:
MCS America - A highly active group whose aim is to "gain medical, legal, and social recognition for multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) as a disorder of organic biological origin induced by toxic environmental insults." The MCS America website provides a wealth of MCS news including reports on declarations by officials throughout America regarding recognition of MCS. Co-founder Lourdes Salvador is a qualified science write and does a fantastic job of translating MCS related research into easily understandable terms. Her articles feature in the monthly MCS America Newsletter and can also be read on the MCS America website and now here on The Environmental Illness Resource in the Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Column.
James Madison University MCS Research Team - Led by Professor Pamela Reed Gibson the JMU MCS Research Team primarily studies the life impacts of living with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity but their website and Professor Gibson's book Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: A Survival Guide also provide a lot of valuable information about the medical aspects of MCS from possible causes and triggers to treatment options.
McHendry has now set up forums on the MCS International website, aptly named 'The Sanctuary', where MICAGO members and anyone suffering from MCS or knows someone who is, can support each other, share information and coordinate efforts to further improve knowledge and perception of MCS and those affected by it.
The Sanctuary will open this Saturday (May 31, 2008) at midday (GMT). If you are in any way affected by MCS or simply have an interest please join us for this important event.
On behalf of The Environmental Illness Resource and all MICAGO members we look forward to seeing you there!