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Chemical Sensitivity on the Rise

The article below appeared in the October 22, 2004 issue of Eaglezine, an electronic newsletter published by Dr.Tom Hill, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneurial Soul.

Dr. Tom Hill:  “Last week Betty and I were invited to a dinner party in Seattle and we were notified in advance that one of the individuals had Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) – maybe I’ve led a sheltered life but I’ve never heard of this condition. After meeting Janine and learning more I asked her to send me some information that I could share with my readers. I found it to be very informative and am glad I had the opportunity to have this encounter. If you know of anyone that might benefit from this please pass it on.”


By Janine Ridings

Imagine having a seizure after inhaling pesticides that your neighbor sprayed, which drifted onto your property. Or imagine trying to enjoy a church service, only to experience a debilitating migraine as a result of smelling the perfume on the person sitting next to you. These are just a couple of the experiences I have had with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).

People who suffer from MCS become ill when exposed to low levels of chemicals that wouldn’t bother the average person. When exposed to products such as pesticides, fresh paint, new carpeting, perfume, and scented laundry detergent, people may experience migraines, seizures, disorientation, joint pain, and asthma attacks, among other symptoms. According to Dr. David Buscher, a specialist in Environmental Medicine, studies indicate that between 15-33% of the population is chemically sensitive to one degree or another.

Why the alarmingly high statistics? Rosalind Anderson, Ph.D., of Anderson Laboratories, conservatively estimates that over 500,000 chemicals have been introduced into our environment since WWII. Since many of the chemicals that are now widely used throughout the world have not been tested for safety to human health, those of us living in this generation are like guinea pigs in an uncontrolled scientific experiment. We are now beginning to see some of the unfortunate consequences of exposure to these chemicals.

According to Connie Pitts, author of Get a Whiff of This, most people aren’t aware that most fragrances contain toxic chemicals. Due to Trade Secret laws, the fragrance industry does not have to disclose the ingredients in their products, and yet many are considered hazardous waste by the Environmental Protection Agency. People who wear fragrances are unknowingly putting solvents on their bodies, which may result in illness in years to come. Just as it took years for the truth about the dangers of tobacco to be made public, it is also taking awhile for people to realize that fragrances, pesticides, and other commonly used household chemicals can be harmful to one’s health. Did you know that Round-up, one of the most widely used herbicides in the world, has been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma? Or that researchers are now finding probable links between fragrances and breast cancer?

Learn how to reduce your exposure to chemicals now, before illness might hit-you’ll be glad you did! Remember, it’s always much easier to prevent illness than to cure it.

For further study on the connection between chemicals and illness, see “Researching Effects of Chemicals and Pesticides Upon Health” at: and “The Environmental Health Network” at:


1. Use distilled white vinegar and baking soda throughout the home to clean bathrooms, kitchens, windows, appliances, and floors. Simply fill a squirt bottle with half vinegar and half water. If you use baking soda and vinegar together, they will fizz, making it easy to clean tubs, toilets, etc. Vinegar will kill most household germs without the need for caustic disinfectants.

2. When purchasing toiletries and cosmetics, buy “fragrance free” products, many of which can be found at grocery stores, health food stores, or online from various vendors such as

3. Buy “fragrance free” laundry products. My favorite place to buy them is Do not use scented fabric softeners or dryer sheets.

4. Use organic fertilizers such as Ringer’s “Lawn Restore” on your lawn. Rather than using herbicides to kill weeds, try using distilled white vinegar. Apply vinegar in the same manner as an herbicide-it’s just as effective and a lot less expensive.

5. Buy organic produce and meats whenever possible.

6. Avoid using potpourri, air fresheners, or scented candles, all of which often contain toxic chemicals. Instead, open your windows for some good old-fashioned fresh air, making your house smell wonderful without harming your family.

7. When remodeling, choose products that are low in toxicity. Select paints that are low in VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds); avoid oil-based products and sealers. A great resource for building supplies that are low in toxicity is

About the author:

Janine Ridings is the founder of Aroma of Christ, a ministry to the chemically sensitive at Calvary Chapel Eastside in Bellevue, Washington. Visit: Her devotional book Comfort in the Storm: Devotions for the Chemically Sensitive is scheduled to come out in December 2004.

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