Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Chemical Allergies – Tips on Managing Chemical Exposure

Since the Second World War over 75,000 new chemicals have been introduced into our society. Only around 2% of these have been fully examined by scientists on an individual basis. Even less have been tested to see what their effect is when they are combined with the other chemicals they are used with.Worryingly, there is no research data available for over 50,000 commonly used chemicals today. Most western countries do not have laws requiring chemical companies to test or even reveal the chemicals they use. In many countries, manufacturers of chemical household cleaners, for example, are only required to reveal 1% of the toxins used with the rest being withheld as ‘trade secrets’.Multiple Chemical SensitivityMore and more people are becoming sensitive to chemicals found in every day life. The symptoms can range from sore eyes, nose and throat or coughing to severe anxiety and asthma in the most sensitive. The most sensitive can react to the smallest exposure to these chemicals and are categorised as suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).The symptoms can be triggered from anything from paints to carpets to household cleaning products.Many people are unaware that things they choose to have and use in their homes are exposing them to harmful chemicals.Some Ways to Reduce Chemicals in the homeHere we set out some suggestions on reducing the chemical exposure in the home which in turn will improve indoor air quality and protect your health:FlooringMany hard floors and carpets contain toxic materials which can affect our health.For hard floors, it is best to use a hard wood floorboard treated with natural beeswax or a woodstain that is safe to the MCS Sufferers, ceramic tiles or natural stone floors. With regard to carpets, use second hand carpets or carpet which has been aired for at least 6 months previously (some companies offer this). There are also pure wool carpets backed in hessian or jute that are chemical free.FurnitureMany fitted kitchens and self-assembly furniture is made of particle board which has the highest output of formaldehyde which is a major problem for MCS sufferers.Alternatives include hard wood furniture treated with beeswax, stainless steel and glass.Wall coveringsMany paints contain volatile organic compounds which are known irritants to MCS sufferers. Wallpaper and wallpaper pastes are also likely to give off gases.Water based paints are better than traditional paints as they are usually fume free. However, the eco-friendly paints that are solvent free are the best to use. As for wallpaper, it is best avoided as the pastes used to hang them contain irritants.FurnishingsSoft furnishings can produce particulate organic matter which is a form of dust in the air which creates issues for MCS sufferers as it can absorb VOC’s.Organic cotton curtains and bedding are much better as well as furniture with the least amount of foam padding/cushions.Cleaning productsHousehold cleaning products have, for some time now, been known to affect sufferers of multiple chemical sensitivity as well as people with allergies and asthma. Cleaning products have used increasingly large numbers of chemicals, including perfumes and fragrances, many of which have not been tested.A common misconception over the last few decades has been that we need chemicals in order to be able to clean effectively. This is the message promoted by the billions of pounds spent on advertising by the manufacturers of the chemical cleaners.In fact, it is possible to clean with more natural products. Care should, however, always be taken because many natural products will contain chemicals found naturally which may still affect users. Another common misconception is that the ‘eco-friendly’ cleaning products that have become popular in recent years are chemical free. Any liquid product needs to have some form of chemical in it in order to have cleaning power and so the eco-friendly ones often have plant based chemicals in them.A completely chemical free solution does exist however in the form of fibre technology. Fibre technology was pioneered and has spread around the world since then. In simple terms, fibres in specially manufactured textiles replace the chemicals by cleaning in a mechanical rather than a chemical way.Using only cold water, the fibres are able to reach into the microscopic pores of any surface and lift and hold onto the dirt and bacteria. The fibres have been tested extensively around the world and have been proved to clean over 6 times more effectively than traditional chemical cleaners.Eliminating the ever increasing number of chemical products used for cleaning the home has helped many MCS sufferers as well as asthma and allergy sufferers around the world. Fibre based cleaning is a must therefore for anyone seeking to reduce one of the biggest triggers of MCS in the home.