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Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is just beginning to become a widely accepted health condition. Initially, when a person would complain of such mysterious and severe reactions to what seemed to be exposure to simple everyday life, doctors often struggled to come up with another explanation or simply weren’t able to provide one at all. In some cases, sufferers with this health condition were left frustrated.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is Real
Yet the symptoms of MCS are very real and have major ramifications on a person’s ability to have a healthy lifestyle. Looking at everything that’s known about MCS, it makes sense that this condition is only just beginning to emerge as a recognizable medical diagnosis. Today, the world is dealing with much more pollution. Even in indoor environments, the potential chemicals, substances and hazards we breathe in regularly is quite astounding if you think about it.
People who suffer from MCS have a much higher sensitivity for everyday things, such as carpeting, perfumes, gasoline and other chemicals and pollutants, particularly Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). While we do understand the types of chemicals and pollutants that seem to aggravate the symptoms of MCS, it is considered idiopathic, or having no specific known cause or mechanism of action.
MCS Severely Limits Daily Functioning
Sufferers have a variety of responses to MCS, as well, many in addition to the typical signs of allergies. Symptoms range from stinging eyes to dizziness and lightheadedness, trouble sleeping and extreme fatigue, and sensitivity to light and sound – a symptom commonly associated with migraine headaches. Make no mistake, MCS is a serious health issue for those who suffer from it. The hallmark of this condition is that the reaction occurs when such a miniscule amount of a pollutant or chemical is in the environment that most other people can’t even detect its presence.
The result of this, of course, is that many people believe the MCS sufferer is exaggerating symptoms. Meanwhile, the person struggling with this condition is unable to go to work, attend school, go to the grocery store, and sometimes even sit in their own living room without suffering from serious ill effects.
While some people first start to experience the chronic effects of MCS after another, unrelated illness, there are other conditions which leave people with similar sensitivities, such as people who have cancer, undergone radiation or chemotherapy treatments. There are a number of theories regarding the causes of MCS, such as immunological insults, airway inflammation, Lyme disease, and a slew of psychological theories ranging from anxiety and panic disorder to negative affectivity and symptom amplification.
The Solution? Cleaner Air – and Cleaner Everything
Whether MCS is caused by physiological or psychological processes doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Certainly, if a physiological cause is proven then medications and treatments could be developed to cure the condition, whereas a psychological basis could potentially be treatable with targeted therapy. But in every case, there’s no question that MCS sufferers could benefit from cleaner air and a more sanitary environment. We could all benefit from a cleaner environment.
Technology is making strides in this area with the development of sophisticated air purification methods and new ways to sanitize surfaces, water and other objects:
- Airocide – The Airocide isn’t cheap, at about $800, but it takes a whole new approach to air purification. It doesn’t even have a filter. Instead of filtering out most dust and allergens, the Airocide removes 100 percent of pathogens from the air, including VOCs.
- IQAir Health Pro Plus – This one is more like a traditional air purifier, but it’s top-of-the-line, filtering out more “ultrafine” particles than most. Those ultrafine particles comprise more than 90 percent of all the particles in the air, and they’re the ones that can cause things like cancer, heart attacks and strokes. An IQAir will cost you between $800 and $850.
- AeroLogic Air Duct Disinfection Units – These air purifiers are installed in the ductwork to purify the whole home. They rely on ultraviolet light to kill pathogens – something increasingly used during surgeries and procedures in the healthcare industry.
- Sanidyne – This handy gadget also uses ultraviolet light to kill mold, bacteria, fungi and viruses instantly, and it’s portable. Capable of purifying a full 1,000 square-foot space in an hour, this gadget could enable an MCS sufferer to make it through a day at the office.
- Sterilight UV System – Cleaner air is one thing, but there are many chemicals in the water supply, too. The Sterilight UV System is a point-of-use gadget that sanitizes water as it’s obtained.
- SteriPEN – Innovation makes water filtration portable, too, with the SteriPEN line of products that can be easily carried along to ensure you’re not ingesting any harmful particles that could set off your symptoms.
The downside to the ultraviolet technology, however, is that it produces ozone, which can be harmful to humans with over-exposure. There are strict guidelines regarding how much ozone is permissible from these types of gadgets. As such, the Sanidyne must be used in an unoccupied room – so it must be placed and removed in advance of anyone utilizing the space.
While technology still has a way to go to make life easier for people with MCS and similar disabilities, there are some gadgets that can make daily life a bit more functional. As we learn more about the causes of MCS, more targeted technology will emerge.
Alexandra Renolds blogs on behalf of greengeektips.com on a variety of topics including eldercare technologies and teaching businesses how to go green.