First please understand that if you were to spray perfume in a room of MCS sufferers each of us would probably react but not necessarily with the same symptoms as each other nor the same intensity. My main symptoms would be migraine/hives/throat closing off – another person it might cause them to lose their voice or have chest pains. Individually we will typically have the same reaction to the same chemical each time, however. Each time I am exposed to perfume I will get migraine/hives/throat closing off. In total I have around 25 different symptoms I get in various combinations to the various chemicals I am exposed to.
Since the person who asked this question lives in a different country from me I am going to keep my answers general and not give the specific products I use. I am answering these questions as asked – this is for a home in which no one has been diagnosed with MCS but she wants to decrease the toxicity in her home.
I AM NOT A DOCTOR. I AM DISABLED WITH MCS AND ANSWER FROM MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE. THIS IS ADVICE FROM A PERSON WHO WANTS TO SEE NO ONE ELSE ON THIS PLANET BECOME DISABLED FROM SOMETHING THAT IN MY CASE COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED. I ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF MY HOME COUNTRY – THE UNITED STATES. I WILL INCLUDE A LIST OF BLOGGERS WHO HAVE DONE A GREAT JOB WITH ALL THE STATISTICS AND THEIR PERSONAL SUGGESTIONS. I AM NOT AN EXPERT — I JUST LIVE WITH THE DIBILATING RESULTS OF A TOXIC WORLD EVERYDAY.
If it says “fragrance” anywhere on the label — I avoid it. Period. The law protecting trademark secrets allows companies to put very toxic stuff under this category and they legally don’t have to disclose this information on the label or in any other fashion.
Unscented does not mean fragrance-free and no – fragrance-free does not mean it is not toxic.
Organic is the closest label you will get to being low toxicity but since I reacted to my organic oranges the other day – I don’t trust this 100% either.
One of the best places to research home and personal care products is EWG.org. Even if a product has a low/medium toxicity always go and look under the category of fragrance for the product and you’ll get the real view of the toxicity of the product.
I would prioritize and eliminate any product that contains toxic chemicals or fragrance that is released into the air. This would include air fresheners, perfume/cologne, scented candles, laundry soap/fabric softener, dish soap especially for a dish washer, spray deodorants( if petroleum-based or contain fragrance.), furniture polish, hair spray, and any product that its use results in a strong release of chemicals such as nail polish/remover, lotion, cleaning supplies.
These products not only are breathed in and can affect the respiratory system; they also have a very quick route the brain. The product clings to clothing and is carried with you wherever you go. I can no longer walk around my neighborhood because the exhaust from people’s dryers releases a toxic plume of fragrance from their fabric softeners. Perfume/cologne not only is taken in by inhalation, it also is absorbed into the skin.
As far as cost goes – some of the products I use cost more than the alternative but many cost significantly less – so over all I find there is a balance. According to my dad, since I have helped him to make his home MCS safe for me, he is saving money.
In general, pick the least toxic choice available. I spoke to my school board and made this suggestion. For me with a choice of which writing utensil is the most toxic to least toxic would be: permanent marker, dry erase maker, low odor dry erase marker, water-based marker, pen/pencil.
We can no longer trust our sense of smell as we have for millennia to tell us if something is safe for us to be around. Chemists have the ability to take toxic petroleum and make it smell yummy or enticing – unfortunately this lab-created scent may not be pleasant to our nervous or respiratory or any other bodily system. Most people would not apply oil/gas to their body in preparation to go out for a romantic evening and yet if one researches what is in a fragrance, that is exactly what they might be doing.
To avoid a ridiculously long post – I have broken this up into sections. Please check out the following bloggers – they have many suggestions as to how they function with MCS and other environmental illnesses. In the other parts, I will address what I do under different category of products — personal care products, laundry, cleaning…