You may not always experience adverse symptoms when exposed to common household chemicals (such as those in air fresheners, mainstream cleaning products, newly painted surfaces, or freshly laid carpet), but you can be sure that these chemicals make their way into your body when you inhale them, or when they're absorbed by your skin. Over time, a toxic brew can build up in the body, and some people develop a condition called multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), characterized by reactions to certain chemicals. Exposure to toxic chemicals also harms the immune system and, by increasing your total allergen load, chemical exposure increases the likelihood that you will experience allergy symptoms. Even if they don't cause noticeable reactions initially, chemicals can have an insidious effect, especially over a protracted period of time. In reality,
we are all chemically sensitive, and it's important to minimize exposure whenever possible. Here are some ways to reduce your chemical exposure:
1. Ditch the air fresheners.
Traditional air fresheners rely on synthetic chemicals that can build up in your body over time as you inhale them.
People who suffer from MCS are particularly vulnerable to the
effects of traditional air fresheners. Furthermore, many air fresheners contain chemicals that actually numb your sense of smell! Instead of covering up odors with hazardous chemicals, absorb them naturally with products like the Tub O' Carbon Odor Buster, which uses activated carbon to absorb odors, or the Pet Odor Eliminator and the Basement & Garage Odor Eliminator, which use volcanic minerals to absorb odors naturally. Baking soda is also a natural and effective odor eliminator. Sprinkle it in the cat box, garbage cans, or leave an open box in other smelly areas. If you want a spray air freshener, try EcoDiscoveries AirZyme Air & Fabric Deodorizer, which wipes out tough odors with safe, fragrance-free enzymes and is available in a handy 8 oz. size.
2. Open the windows.
Due to the buildup of chemicals used in the home (for example, cleaning supplies, hobby products, or home improvement supplies) or off-gassing from materials found in the home (carpet adhesive, plywood furniture, or upholstered furniture, for instance), indoor air can be significantly more polluted than outdoor air. Take advantage of warmer spring temperatures to open your windows to give your home a healthy breath of fresh air. Of course, if you suffer from allergies, you don't want to give entry to pollen. The Safeguard Window Filter lets clean air flow into your home but keeps pollen and other outdoor pollutants out.
3. Review your personal care products.
Many personal care products contain chemicals, fragrances, and other irritants that can aggravate multiple chemical sensitivity. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals, even if they don't cause symptoms initially, can eventually lead to chemical sensitivities when the body has accumulated more than it can handle. Read the labels of your lotions, shampoo and conditioner, deodorants, and other personal care items. Chances are they contain a long list of chemical ingredients you can't pronounce. Consider more natural alternatives like the Naturally Fresh Deodorant Crystal and Free & Clear Shampoo and Conditioner, which are specially formulated for those with allergies and multiple chemical sensitivity. Vanicream Skin Cream is also an excellent choice for those with sensitive skin. With summertime just around the corner, watch out for the chemicals in most commercial insect repellants.
4. Purify your air.
Most people who suffer
from MCS would agree that an investment which provides a steady supply of pure, clean air is money well spent. In addition, even if you don't experience uncomfortable
symptoms when exposed to chemical pollutants in the air, you could develop chemical sensitivity over time. In terms of MCS, our highest rated air
purifer is the IQAir MultiGas GC. With a unique blend of activated carbon and
oxidizing agents, the MultiGas destroys harmful chemical vapors and adsorbs odors. An H11 HEPA prefilter traps particle allergens like dander, pollen, dust
mite allergen, and mold spores. The MultiGas is our "Best in Class" for MCS air purifiers. In commercial or specialized industrial settings, consider
an IQAir GCX air purifier. With 4 canisters loaded with specific carbon, the GCX has the size and capability to tackle large commercial space and industrial filtration.
Another popular MCS air purifier model is AllerAir's AirMedic MCS Series Air Purifiers,
which features a very thick bed of double washed activated carbon to adsorb harmful chemicals and gases that lead to symptoms of MCS. If you
suffer from multiple chemical sensitivity at the office from printing inks, cleaning supply residues, or co-workers' perfumes, AllerAir also makes
AirTube Air Purifiers for your personal space. For whole-house filtration without the cost of
an air purifying unit, SafeHome Furnace Filters offer cost-efficient options that
work in your home's central HVAC unit.
5. Be prepared.
No matter how vigilant you try to be, there will undoubtedly be circumstances beyond your control. Whether you encounter a newly painted apartment that you've rented, or a new car smell that many people enjoy without realizing its harmful effects, make sure that you have some masks like the Honeycomb Mask with Carbon Filter on hand to protect against chemical exposure. This is especially important for those who suffer from multiple chemical sensitivity; the fumes from the chemicals could make them very sick. The Honeycomb Mask is a lightweight, portable mask that filters chemicals through disposable activated carbon inserts so that you don't inhale them.