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“MCS awareness is when my friends tell others what fragrance free means,” by MCSGAL

Image2geeseImage5geesefamilyIf one looks up the word awareness in the dictionary the definition involves: feelings, perception, sensory patterns, knowledge…. Therefore one might argue, when awareness is lacking then one or more of either: feelings, sensory patterns, knowledge or perception are lacking. I have a degree in zoology and took an ornithology course, so I have a modicum of knowledge involving birds. When I walk in the spring by the lake, I see and hear the pattern of the geese change. At first they flock together and are quite noisy. But after a time they will be in pairs. If those pairs are a bit apart from each other than there are likely babies to be guarded. They are very quiet most of the time. But I perceive that if I get to close, the male will become quite vocal. What I do about all this information depends on my feelings. I feel respect for these birds, and therefore, I give them their space. I am aware that they love and protect and nurture their young just as I would as a parent.

Image18lakeWhile at the lake this morning I spoke with a friend. She is aware of my MCS issues. As president of the Fulton Art Association, she organizes what each of us members will do to help set up the art show this weekend. She showed caring feelings, perception, sensory patterns and knowledge when she contacted me about my volunteering. “Would I be willing to try to cut out the name tags at my house so that I wouldn’t be exposed to other people and their fragrances?” And she wore no fragrance when she dropped off the materials to my home. My friend and I spoke of how little has been done to bring awareness to the high school where I used to teach. She pointed out it would be impossible to totally eliminate all fragrances.

I am not naive. The school district has a tobacco free policy and yet kids still smoke in the bathroom. There are rules against fighting and yet kids occasionally fight. The goal is to have all students pass state exams and yet kids still fail them. I don’t imagine there is a school district anywhere that the kids follow all the rules all the time.

I find it easier to be empathetic when someone or some organization is truly ignorant of the facts. One can only act on what they know. But the district I used to teach in knows, by both their research and mine, the consequences of toxic synthetic fragrances. The superintendent and school board perceive it to be an issue as noted by the minor change to board policy and our conversations. The sensory pattern is there — enough people are aware that toxic synthetic fragrance typically worn every day by people in their deodorant, shampoo, make-up, lotion, soap, laundry soap, fabric softener, air fresheners…. give people headaches, sore throats, fatigue, hives, and much worse. So I believe the element missing for change is FEELINGS. 

Does your school district have and enforces a fragrance free policy?

There are people and organizations not taking actions to prevent MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities) even though they KNOW it can be life threatening — — not curable — and yet preventable. I can only guess at the feelings that are preventing people from taking action. Might it be:

Apathy — I have other things to worry about more important.

Shame — I didn’t listen. I kept wearing the toxic stuff and now she is disabled. If I stop now, I would have to admit I was part of the problem. This makes me a bad person.

Arrogance — It’s not going to happen to me.

Pessimism — No way we can get people to stop wearing fragrance. They’re “addicted” to the stuff. You can’t control other people.

Powerlessness — The companies legally putting the toxic chemicals in our everyday products are too rich — too powerful — too well-connected.

Insecurity — Change always gets people riled up — even if it is good change. I’m going to get a lot of flack.

Hopelessness — We’re all going to die of something — might as well be MCS.

Image1ME002I do not have an answer to this quandary. And if I did, I wouldn’t know how to change those feelings. Look at what people have done to prevent smoking. Is there anyone on the planet that doesn’t know that smoking cigarettes is life threatening? And yet, people still do it. So all I can do is continue to educate anyone who wants to listen so that with the knowledge that the synthetic fragrances in our everyday products can be debilitating and deadly –will come awareness. With awareness comes action. That action maybe to take no action — which is much different from ignorance. Both — may result in the same consequences — but with inaction there is no excuse for the consequences. If you’re still wearing deodorant with toxic fragrances and burning scented candles with toxic fragrances and dressing your kids in clothes washed with toxic fragrances in the fabric softener — you own the consequences.

Trust me, I am owning the consequences of not becoming an activist sooner — for not quitting my job sooner — for not taking legal action sooner. But the important thing is that I am owning those consequences NOW. I could sell everything I own and go sit on a beach somewhere but I choose to be a spiritual warrior and a MCS activist. If I have saved one person from becoming disabled with MCS then today is a good day.

What do you know about MCS? Do you perceive it to be problem that companies in the US can legally put toxic chemicals in your products and not tell you about it? What are your sensory patterns when you’re near someone wearing perfume or other scented products? What are your feelings concerning millions of people worldwide being poisoned by toxic fragrances?

Have you stopped using products with “fragrance” since finding out their level of toxicity and the consequences of using them?