Multiple Chemical Sensitivity MCS

MCS - Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome is an environmental illness that has gained recognition since the early 1990s, when Gulf War veterans came home with Gulf War Syndrome. During the brief war they were exposed to chemical weapons, organophosphate pesticides, immunizations, pyridostigmine bromide and oil well fires.

At about the same time, there was also an increased awareness of "sick building syndrome" (SBS). It is used to describe situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building.

Most indoor air pollution comes from sources inside the building. For example, adhesives, carpeting, deodorants, perfume, upholstery, manufactured wood products, copy machines, pesticides, and cleaning agents may emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including formaldehyde.

Dr. Mark Cullen, Yale School of Medicine, quoted by most Occupational and Environmental doctors, defines Multiple Chemical Sensitivity MCS as an acquired disorder characterized by recurrent symptoms, referable to Multiple organ systems, occurring in response to demonstrable exposure to many chemically unrelated compounds at doses far below those established in the general population to cause harmful effects.

Confronting the criticism of health and environmental groups, three major nail polish manufacturers say they've either removed or have begun the process of removing a trio of substances that have been deemed harmful. These are products that enter into the body in a way that is not dissimilar to the way that drugs do.

The chemicals formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate, or DBP, have been linked to cancer and birth defects. All were banned earlier in 2006 in cosmetics by European Union regulators but have not been targeted for removal in this country by the Food and Drug Administration.

DBP is an endocrine disrupter, associated with underdeveloped genitals in newborn males. The compound belongs to a broad class of toxins that have been linked to accelerated puberty in girls, a factor that may be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Toluene has been linked to nervous system disorders and formaldehyde is a suspected carcinogen. Epidemiological studies show an association between formaldehyde and leukemia. Inhaling formaldehyde fumes can cause respiratory problems and asthma-like symptoms.

The FDA doesn't require the rigorous scrutiny of cosmetics that is reserved for pharmaceuticals. Harmful substances have been allowed in nail polish because the expert panel advising the agency on cosmetics is made up of officials from the cosmetics industry. The FDA doesn't maintain any vigilance over cosmetics.

Sally Hansen brand nail polish products are being reformulated to eliminate all three substances. The Sally Hansen brand is sold worldwide and is the No. 1 nail polish brand sold in drugstores. Del Laboratories said the reformulated nail enamels should appear on store shelves in early 2007. Orly International Inc. and OPI Products, top salon brands say they, too, will eliminate the compounds.

Indoor air contains a complex mixture of biological and chemical pollutants. Depending on such factors as the sensitivity of the occcupants and pollutant concentration, exposure to these pollutants may result in a number of harmful health effects. Some people become sick to tiny amounts of chemical pollutants. These people are said to have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.

The chemical industry is outraged that some people should become sick to exposure to their products. They are trying to change the name of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity to Idiopathic Environmental Intolerances (IEI). Notice the slick way they removed the word "chemical" from this environmental disease.

Even though the word idiopathic means arising spontaneously or from an obscure or unknown cause, they would like people to think that chemical victims are idiots or mentally defective or just crazy.

The chemical industry in league with the pharmaceutical industry, is spending untold millions of dollars to lobby against Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. (Many pharmaceutical companies also manufacture pesticides). They are trying to convince state legislatures, the courts and the medical community that there is no such disease.

According to Ann McCampbell, MD, "This circular reasoning, that you can�t prove MCS exists without more study and you can�t study it because it doesn�t exist, is commonly used by industry lobbyists. A corollary to this is the lobbying strategy of calling for more research on MCS while attempting to block it at the same time."

The American Medical Association denies that MCS is a clinical condition because conclusive scientific evidence is lacking. Even the government website for the National Institute of Environment Health Sciences states that "the preferred medical term is Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance."

When used indoors under certain conditions, many common household cleaners and air fresheners emit toxic pollutants at levels that may lead to health risks, according to a new study (May 24, 2006) by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Exposure levels to some of the pollutants - and to the secondary pollutants formed when some of the products mix with ozone - may exceed regulatory guidelines when a large surface is cleaned in a small room or when the products are used regularly, resulting in chronic exposure, according to the study.

The study is the first to measure emissions and concentrations of primary and secondary toxic compounds produced by these products under typical indoor use conditions, and it examines the potential hazards of small-scale yet widespread utilization of an array of products designed for household use.
Four years in the making, the team's 330-page study and report, "Indoor Air Chemistry: Cleaning Agents, Ozone and Toxic Air Contaminants," was released in May of 2006.

The ARB asked Nazaroff and his team to focus their work in two areas: an investigation of toxic air contaminants in household cleaning products and air fresheners, especially a class of chemicals known as ethylene-based glycol ethers; and an examination of the chemistry that occurs when such products are used indoors - in particular, products that contain a reactive group of chemicals called terpenes.

Ethylene-based glycol ethers are common, water-soluble solvents used in a variety of cleaning agents, latex paints and other products. They are classified as hazardous air pollutants under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments and as toxic air contaminants by California's Air Resources Board. Their toxicity varies with their chemical structure.

Terpenes are a class of chemicals found in pine, lemon and orange oils that are used in many consumer products either as solvents or to provide a distinctive scent. Although terpenes themselves are not considered toxic, some recent studies have shown that they may react with ozone to produce a number of toxic compounds. (The primary constituent of smog, ozone enters the indoor environment from infiltration of outdoor air, but is also produced indoors by some office machines such as copiers or printers, and by some devices marketed as "air purifiers" that purposely emit ozone into the indoor environment.)

The research team's first task was to determine which household products contain terpenes and glycol ethers, and in what quantities. It compiled a list of the household cleaners and air fresheners available at any of five chain retail outlets in Northern California, then examined the labels and advertising claims (e.g. "pine-scented") for these products and reviewed available product data sheets.

Based on this information, they selected the 21 products most likely to contain significant amounts of terpenes and ethylene-based glycol ethers: four air fresheners and 17 cleaning products, including at least one each of disinfectants, general-purpose degreasers, general-purpose cleaners, wood cleaners, furniture maintenance products, spot removers and multi-purpose solvents.

A complete chemical analysis of these 21 products revealed that:
� Twelve contained terpenes and other ozone-reactive compounds at levels ranging from 0.2 to 26 percent by mass.
� Six contained levels of ethylene-based glycol ethers of 0.8 to 9.6 percent by mass.
� Among the four air fresheners studied, three contained substantial quantities of terpenes (9-14 percent by mass)

� Copyright 2006

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