Is Your Home a Toxic Hell?
For most people, their home is a sanctuary, a place to retreat to at the end of a busy day.
But for those with multiple chemical sensitivity, ‘home sweet home’, becomes a toxic hell.
At no time in history has the world been exposed to such a range of chemicals through food, water and air.
Human evolution is a slow, adaptive process to the environment that is not able to keep up with the types and cocktails of chemicals that the body is exposed to.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity; in broad terms it means an unusually severe sensitivity or allergy-like reaction to many different kinds of pollutants including solvents, VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds), perfumes, petrol, diesel, smoke, “chemicals” in general and often encompasses problems with regard to pollen, house dust mites, and pet fur & dander.
People who are sensitive to a chemical get symptoms from exposure to low levels of that chemical – levels that do not cause symptoms in most people.
For example, being near cigarette smoke or perfume or car exhaust may give someone sensitive to chemicals asthma or a headache.
It is like an allergy, in that people react to things that don’t bother other people, but the biological mechanisms are different.
In the New South Wales Adult Health Survey 2002, 2.9% of respondents reported having been diagnosed with chemical sensitivity and 24.6% of respondents reported sensitivity to chemical odours.
People can become sensitive to chemicals after a major chemical exposure or after long-term, low-level exposure to chemicals, eg pesticides.
Chemical sensitivity can also occur after a virus or other illness, or with hormonal disturbances, eg during or after pregnancy. Some people are genetically susceptible.
People with allergic illnesses such as hay fever or asthma appear to be more likely to be sensitive to chemicals.
This condition is particularly prevalent among the individuals who suffer from fibromyalgia as estimates show that as many as two thirds of fibromyalgia patients will develop MCS as some point in time.
For most sufferers with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, the avoidance of pollutants/toxicants is the key.
In a review of a two-phase population study in 2003, respondents with MCS indicated cleaning agents (88.4%), pesticides (81.2%), perfumes (81.2%), vehicle exhaust (72.5%), the products used in barber shops and beauty salons (60.9%), new carpeting (53.6%), new furniture (39.1%), chlorine in drinking water (29.1%), and fresh ink (26.1%) were the products most often reported to trigger reactions in the respondents. They also indicated smoke from a fireplace, wood stove, or barbecue grill, and secondhand tobacco smoke were triggers for reactions
Toxic House Holds
Potentially hazardous chemicals, in the form of building materials, furnishings and cleaning products, infiltrate nearly everyone’s homes.
They’re found in upholstery, manufactured wood products such as plywood and pressboard, traditional paint, permanent-press fabrics, vinyl, sealers and adhesives.
And they hang around in the air and carpets for years.
In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency has found that the air in our homes has pollutant levels two to five times higher than the air outside, and sometimes even 100 times higher, depending on what furnishings, building materials and cleansers you’re using.
How can a person really be affected by such a minuscule dose of a toxicant even if such a toxicant IS present? Surprisingly, perhaps, this is one aspect of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity that is very well understood in conventional medicine and it is called Sensitisation.
Sensitisation is a true allergic reaction to one chemical or irritant and is caused by involvement within the body of mast cells and IgE antibodies. Once sensitised to a particular irritant, a subsequent exposure to even a tiny amount of the same irritant (even parts per million – ppm – or parts per billion – ppb) can cause an extreme allergic reaction.
These very low levels of irritant will often be totally undetectable to the average person and to them will be totally harmless.
Imagine not being able to set foot in the cleaning aisle of your local supermarket because the chemicals may make your vision blur, develop nose bleeds, sore lungs or even collapse.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity can be a crippling condition, with some people too afraid to step out of their own houses.
How Do You Know if you Have MCS?
Six consensus criteria were identified for the diagnosis and definition of MCS:
1. Symptoms are reproducible with repeated (chemical) exposures.
2. The condition has persisted for a significant period of time.
3. Low levels of exposure (lower than previously or commonly tolerated) result in manifestations of the syndrome (i.e. increased sensitivity).
4. The symptoms improve or resolve completely when the triggering chemicals are removed.
5. Responses often occur to multiple chemically unrelated substances.
6. Symptoms involve multiple-organ symptoms (runny nose, itchy eyes, headache, scratchy throat, ear ache, scalp pain, mental confusion or sleepiness, palpitations of the heart, upset stomach, nausea and/or diarrhoea, abdominal cramping, aching joints).
Cleaning with the Enemy
We wouldn’t drench our kitchen benches in petroleum or spray a bottle labelled “carcinogen” into our showers, but are we doing a similar thing by using conventional household cleaning products?
Abode Cleaning Products are dedicated to provide the best natural cleaning products that are chemical free and low allergy. This means you can keep your home looking spotless without the addition of harsh chemicals.
What more can you do?
The main treatment is to avoid the chemicals or other substances that cause symptoms. Depending on how severe the problem is, this may involve:
- Changing to more natural and non-toxic personal care products, cleaning products, clothing, bedding and furniture.
- Removing toxic products from the home.
- Wear natural clothing fibres, cottons and woollens are usually safe.
- Using non-toxic methods to control pests.
- Using non-toxic or less-toxic building materials when building or renovating.
- Moving to a less polluted area.
- Eating organic food.
- Using a good air purifier and/or water filter.
- Avoid all foods or drugs that contain artificial flavourings, colouring or chemicals.
Many people can become free of symptoms by avoiding chemicals they are sensitive to. A few people make a full recovery and are no longer affected by low levels of chemicals.
Educate yourself on harmful chemicals to avoid in the house – Healthy Home Healthy Family is a compilation of ten years of research. Within its pages you will discover how your home can affect your health and, most importantly, what you can do about it.
Nutrients that Decrease Chemical Sensitivity
Studies have shown that people that suffer from MCS have impaired detoxification of xenobiotic chemicals (chemicals foreign to the body).
MCS patients exhibit the lower than normal levels of glutathione, the bodies major detoxification chemical, that is also a characteristic of chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, gulf war syndrome and autism.
Low glutathione would result in poor detoxification and excretion of toxic chemicals, leaving them in the blood stream and tissues where they could cause cellular damage and interfere with biochemical processes.
Bioceuticals Glutathione is available on Emed in a 250mg dose.
Approximately 40% of chemically sensitive individuals are magnesium depleted. As magnesium is involved in over 500 enzyme systems, its depletion can result in poor detoxifying ability.
Substances that deplete magnesium are pollutants, alcohols, diuretics, steroids, glucose, phosphate depletion and pesticides.
Folate and Vitamin B12
Approximately 35% of chemically sensitive individuals are low in folate and approximately 15% are deficient in vitamin B12. Many medications such as aspirin, the oral contraceptive and anti convulsants interfere with folate absorption and metabolism.
Disturbed B12 and folate metabolism results in impaired methylation of xenobiotics with exacerbation of chemical sensitivity, particularly to chlorines.
Bioceuticals Methyl Max provides a daily dose of both vitamins.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
60% of chemically sensitive patients are deficient in B6, whether they are taking oral supplementation or not. The active form of vitamin B6 is pyridoxal 5 – phosphate, which can be overwhelmed by exposure to aldehydes.
Deficiency in pyridoxine or suboptimal co enzyme activity of pyrodoxal – 5 – phosphate may lead to subnormal taurine levels, with the subsequent increase in chemical sensitivity.
Drugs such as the oral contraceptive, chlorpromazine, amphetamine, reserpine and isonizid can all lead to a relative B6 deficiency.
Research Nutrition Active B6 provides 34.2mg per tablet.