Environmental Illness, Sick Building Syndrome and MCS
Sounds a little scary, but what does it all mean?
What is Environmental Illness?
In 1952, a thick an persistent smog shrouded the city of London for four days causing an estimated 12,000 deaths and 100,000 serious illnesses, many are considered to be environmental illness. In the eastern Indian state of Bihar, more than 10 million people are estimated to be threatened with arsenic poisoning from contaminated groundwater. As well in 2015, Hawaii reported 10 times the national rate of congenital disabilities and fingers were firmly pointed in the direction of chemical companies like; Dow, BASF, Syngenta, and DuPont, which spray 17 times more restricted-use insecticides per acre than on ordinary cornfields in the US mainland. All these are rather shocking and upsetting examples of environmental illness. The term describes illnesses that are triggered by the environment in which a person lives. However, other than these extreme examples, many people suffer from generally poor health as a result of the increasingly poor quality environments we find available to us.
How do I know if I suffer from environmental illness?
Sufferers of environmental illness often have allergies and are very sensitive to chemicals. Almost anything can cause symptoms in a person suffering from environmental illness; the usual suspects include pollen, mold, dust or dander. However, certain foods, chemical cleaners, and cosmetics can also adversely affect someone dealing with an overload of environmental triggers. If you find yourself becoming increasingly or newly allergic to different things. Commonly found in our modern environments, you might be a “universal reactor”. Which is, someone whose body reacts negatively toward multiple environmental triggers.
Why do I feel so horrible after a long day at the office?
Sick building syndrome often affects office workers who spend long, stressful hours indoors in poorly ventilated workspaces. Fatigue, eye and throat irritation, respiratory disorders and headaches are common problems for those dealing with sick building syndrome. Symptoms can be acute for sufferers, yet no discernible illness can be directly attributed to the condition. Good news is that the effects of sick building syndrome are often short-term. Yet, most of us have bills to pay and can’t afford to simply seek out a career in healthier environments.
What is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?
Some people suffer from a heightened reaction to a variety of chemicals.
One of the most frequently asked questions we get, at the Cambridge Mask Co is; whether or not our masks can protect people who deal with this condition. The answer is, unfortunately, a very uncertain ‘maybe.’
Since the air we breathe contains a multitude of tiny chemical particles of different sizes and compositions. It is impossible for us to say whether or not; our carbon filter respirators can effectively filter out the exact set of chemicals a person may be allergic to.
Even now, no-one really knows how toxic some chemicals are. Furthermore, there is a long way to go before science and medicine have any concrete answers in this field. However, if you do suffer from multiple chemical sensitivity wearing a respirator may help, as well as avoiding the following environmental triggers:
“Pesticides, perfume/cologne and other scented products, fresh paint, new carpets, many building materials, solvents, fresh ink, smoke, vehicle exhaust, industrial fumes, and many cleaning products. Other scented products include; air “fresheners,” fragrance-emitting devices, fabric softener, potpourri, incense, essential oils, and most soaps, shampoos, hair products, skin lotions, and laundry detergents.”
People often shrug my symptoms off as allergies; I’m feeling misunderstood and alone.
You are certainly not alone, in fact, an entire community of environmentally sensitive people have relocated to the charmingly named rural area of Snowflake, Arizona. Large lots host people desperate to avoid living with pollutants and triggers of multiple chemical sensitivity and electrical hypersensitivity. Community values living with others who both understand their condition and who are unlikely to make them sick. Homes are constructed using non-synthetic materials only, so building with being green in mind can pose problems as most recycled material contain contaminants.
Phone lines are few and far between, and the community is definitely somewhat; cut off from what the rest of us might consider as civilization. However, being so isolated does protect the health of inhabitants who claim a population range of people from all different races ethnicities, religions and backgrounds.
Well, I can’t just move to Arizona. Where can I find support?
The Environmental Illness Resource is an excellent organisation hosting information, support, reviews and products that can help to keep you informed, in touch with others and healthy. Founder and Editor, Matthew Hogg, has made it his mission to offer his professional advice and personal experiences to sufferers. Who have long been overlooked and dismissed about their experiences. To find out more, visit the Environmental Illness Resource page here.