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Multiple Chemical and Electrical Sensitivities

Over time, living organisms can adjust to gradual changes in their environment. But in recent years changes to habitat have been so rapid that the human organism, among others, can only strain to keep up. For certain vulnerable people, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), Electrical Sensitivity (ES), and other Environmental Illnesses (EI) can be disabling medical conditions initiated by acute or ongoing  exposure to one or more chemicals, molds, electrical fields, or medications.

Following sensitization, subsequent exposures at even very low doses can exacerbate the person's sensitivity. Eventually, symptoms are provoked even by unrelated substances, foods, and electrical fields. Symptoms can be debilitating, sometimes life-threatening, and commonly include severe dizziness; headaches; fainting; tiredness; burning/itching of skin and eyes; flu-like symptoms; emotional disturbances; and seizure disorders. In addition, any chronic neurological disorders, asthma, and autoimmune disorders (such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis) can also be aggravated by exposures.

Commonplace exposures that trigger symptoms for a sensitized individual include chemical emissions from new carpets, building materials, and furnishings; scented personal care products; maintenance, cleaning, disinfection and pest control chemicals; solvents; dyes; soft plastics; molds and mildew; animal dander; scented or petroleum candles; soaps, shampoos; detergents; wood and tobacco smoke; gas stove and furnace fuel and emissions; vehicle exhaust. Eventually, reactions can be triggered by noise, temperature, the sun, fluorescents, flashing lights, and any electrical equipment such as transformers, cell phones, or overhead power lines.

Remember, each person is unique, whether they live with a disability or chronic health condition, or not. Therefore, it is impossible to make universal statements about what will enable us all, in our diversity, to be welcomed through accommodation. As with all reciprocal relationships, it is always important and appropriate to ask the people being welcomed what will work for them.

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Last updated on Wednesday, April 20, 2011.

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