Lourdes Salvador's Column
...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.
Lourdes Salvador volunteers as a writer and social advocate for the recognition of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). She was a passionate advocate for the homeless and worked with her local governor to provide services to the homeless through a new approach she created to end homelessness. That passion soon turned to advocacy and activism for people with MCS and the medical professionals who serve them. She co-founded MCS Awareness in 2005 and went on to found MCS America in 2006. She serves as a partner for Environmental Education Week, a partner for the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE), and a supporter for the American Cancer Society: Campaign for Smokefree Air.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Greatly Impacts Life and Function
by Lourdes Salvador
Often misunderstood as suffering from an annoying allergy, people with multiple chemical sensitivity actually struggle with disabling neurological symptoms when they are exposed to small amounts of perfume, fragrance, pesticides, and other common airborne chemical products tolerated by most.
Researchers have suggested that MCS is a chronic and disabling condition, unlike a mere annoyance from an allergy which most of us are able to understand more easily.
Skovbjerg and colleagues were interested in the details of the impact of MCS on everyday life in men and woman who have had MCS for at least one year.
Skovbjerg says, “MCS may severely influence different aspects of everyday life, including lifestyle, social relations, and occupational conditions.”
The most common coping strategy is to avoid common airborne chemicals and create a chemical-free living space. This involves a reduction of both work and social activities, not to mention daily tasks of living such as shopping.
The average experience with the healthcare system is rated poorly among people with MCS, largely due to physician’s lack of adequate training in toxicology and, thus, dismissal of the symptoms by this population.
“If my doctor won’t even acknowledge my symptoms,” says one woman with MCS, “how can he treat them?”
Another woman says, “Since I’ve had MCS, I find that when I go to the doctor to get treatment, they always redirect the visit to something else they understand better that I didn’t come in for, like blood pressure or weight. It’s like they don’t know what to do for the MCS, so they ignore it instead of just saying they don’t know or referring me to a specialist who might know. It’s frustrating and dehumanizing. The doctor’s lack of knowledge affecting his psyche is not of my concern. He should be honest if he’s inexperienced in toxicology.”
Skovbjerg says further research is needed to add to professional understanding of MCS in order to provide more satisfactory healthcare. In the meantime, many with MCS are left to keep trying new doctors and fend for themselves while in a chronically disabled state.
Skovbjerg S, Brorson S, Rasmussen A, Johansen JD, Elberling J. Impact of self-reported multiple chemical sensitivity on everyday life: a qualitative study. Scand J Public Health. 2009 Aug;37(6):621-6. Epub 2009 May 1.
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
Copyrighted 2009 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America