Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Awareness Month (M.C.S) is observed every year throughout May. M.C.S. is a chronic, physical illness that causes people to experience severe reactions when their bodies are exposed to very low levels of toxins or chemicals in food, chemical products, or their immediate environment. Though M.C.S. hasn’t been recognized as an illness, it’s still important to offer support to those forced to live with it, as well as raise more awareness about the illness itself.
History of MCS Awareness Month
Multiple chemical sensitivity, also known as environmental sensitivities, is a physical illness that causes people to experience allergic-type reactions when exposed to very low levels of chemicals in cleaning products, food, medicines, natural products, electromagnetic fields, etc. This occurs when the immune and detoxification systems stop working properly, preventing the body from effectively processing toxins. M.C.S. affects people of all ages and can be triggered by a large variety of factors. Common triggers of allergic reactions include tobacco smoke, exhaust fumes, pesticide, perfume, detergent, shampoo, and chlorine. Often, symptoms manifest in the form of headaches, dizziness, fatigue, breathing problems, sneezing, nausea, nasal congestion, itching, sore throat, chest pain, changes in heart rhythm, skin rash, bloating, confusion, trouble concentrating, memory problems, mood changes, and muscle pain.
It is believed that the common causes of M.C.S. are prolonged or repeated chemical exposure or one-time exposure to certain toxins. It can also develop after a period of ill health or a viral infection. Unfortunately, there is no prescribed treatment method or cure for M.C.S. Some people find that avoiding certain products or foods alleviates symptoms.
However, neither the World Health Organization nor the American Medical Association has recognized M.C.S. as an illness. Some groups, such as the Health Justice Commons, advocate against the stigmatization of people with M.C.S. They call on the rest of the world to recognize the role of people with M.C.S. as ‘planetary whistle blowers’ whose bodies alert us of the presence of toxins that may be otherwise indiscernible.
MCS Awareness Month timeline
Theron G. Randolph is the first to propose that M.C.S. is a distinct disease.
Randolph creates the Society for Clinical Ecology to promote his ideas.
The Interagency Workgroup on Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is formed by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
The International Programme on Chemical Sensitivity proposes the name ‘Idiopathic environmental illness’ as opposed to multiple chemical sensitivity.
MCS Awareness Month FAQs
Who is the head of the World Health Organization?
The Director-General of the World Health Organization is Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
How many people suffer from allergies?
Medical experts have estimated that over 50 million Americans battle allergies every year.
What are the most common allergy triggers?
The most common allergy triggers are foods, animals, pollen, mold, dust mites, medicines, latex, insect bites, and perfumes or household chemicals.
How to Observe MCS Awareness Month
Stand in solidarity
Stand in solidarity with our ‘planetary whistle blowers’ by recognizing their struggle. This month and afterward, do whatever you can to make our environment more safe and habitable for them.
Join or start a fundraiser
There are several organizations and fundraisers dedicated to spreading awareness and supporting people with M.C.S. Start a fundraiser or join an existing one to promote the cause.
Wear a ribbon
The colors for M.C.S. Awareness are green and yellow, usually worn as a ribbon. Wear a green and yellow ribbon to show your support.
5 Ways To Make Your Environment Safe For M.C.S. Patients
Avoid wearing perfume around M.C.S. patients.
Use fragrance-free products
When picking out soaps, shampoos, and cleaning products, choose those that are fragrance-free.
Avoid smoking tobacco or other substances around M.C.S. patients.
Use an air purifier
Use an air purifier in your home, office, or business center to cleanse the air of pollutants, allergens, and toxins.
Monitor food ingredients
Ask M.C.S. patients what foods are likely to trigger allergic reactions before offering them any food or snacks.
Why MCS Awareness Month is Important
M.C.S. Awareness Month is an opportunity for education
Most people are unaware that M.C.S. is a real, physical illness, while others assume it exists merely in the minds of patients. This awareness month is important for raising awareness about M.C.S. and educating people about how to make our environment safer for people living with it.
M.C.S. Awareness Month shows support
This month-long holiday is a statement of support for people with M.C.S. It says, “We see you, we stand with you, and we support you.”
M.C.S. Awareness Month raises funds
Thanks to the fundraising programs held throughout the month, financial support can be raised for M.C.S. patients. Donations are usually channeled toward the patients themselves and also toward getting M.C.S. recognized as a chronic, physical illness.
MCS Awareness Month dates