Lourdes Salvador's Column
...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.
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Left Hung Out to Dry with EI
by Lourdes Salvador
In the face of current scientific research, it almost seems preposterous that any debate still exists over the legitimacy of environmental illnesses. Yet, a very small minority steadfastly sticks to antiquated ideas that environmental illnesses are not organic conditions.
“More than 20 years after it was first identified, the anomalous condition, multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS), remains immersed in controversy, with a continuing debate over its causation being played out in the medicoscientific community and in the courts.,” says Tarryn Phillips.
Phillips is a researcher at the School of Social and Cultural Studies, University of Western Australia,
Phillips drew on ethnographic research which was conducted in Perth, Western Australia to scrutinize the decisionmaking practices of experts, eight skeptics and eight who support an organic chemical explanation for multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). Both groups use evidence-based, inductive reasoning. All experts had a wide spectrum of beliefs about the cause of MCS.
However, skeptics used a different set of requirements for evidence and showed more faith in the current definitions of toxicity than those who support an organic chemical explanation.
New research is showing that chemical body burden and effect on health is not limited to single exposures. Rather multiple exposures of different chemicals can act synergistically to create a much larger effect than the mere effete of two independent chemicals added together.
The skeptics were less likely to acknowledge the uncertainties in their fields, hence exhibited a more closed minded approach to these new paradigms and research findings.
“However, when they were engaged in litigation as expert witnesses,” says Phillips, “due to their supportive or skeptical tendency, the oppositional legal system polarized their opinions and exacerbated the perceived divide between them. Ultimately, the adversarial medico- legal process inhibits genuine dialogue between some of the key players in the MCS debate, thus impeding understanding and consensus about the condition.”
Without this understanding, many patients are left hung to dry without appropriate justice and medical care that can improve their condition. Despite that, one thing is certain among them all. MCS is very real.
Phillips T. Debating the legitimacy of a contested environmental illness: a case study of multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS). Sociol Health Illn. 2010 Nov;32 (7):1026-40.
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
Copyrighted 2011 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America
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