If you or a loved one suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity – or MCS for short – you know how debilitating the disorder can be. While many in the medical community have yet to decide whether MCS is a true medical condition or “simply a sensitivity,” sufferers know the real truth: It is a horrible condition to live with!
What is MCS?
MCS is a chronic condition that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. The extreme sensitivity to many different everyday chemicals causes sufferers’ immune systems to stop working properly. The result is an array of allergic-type symptoms that make the person feel miserable.
What types of chemicals are MCS sufferers sensitive to? Chemicals typically found in common items such as paint fumes, building materials, aerosol sprays, hair-styling products, perfumes, candles and even air fresheners. Many sufferers are also sensitive to food, medicines, molds and electromagnetic fields.
It is next to impossible to keep yourself out of reach of all these chemicals. While you can forgo wearing perfumes yourself, you can’t ask coworkers to stop wearing them. You also can’t ask your local gym, grocery store and favorite restaurant to stop cleaning and sanitizing their floors. Pretty much everywhere you go there is a potential source of irritation.
Who Does MCS Affect the Most?
It can really affect anyone. Triggers to chemicals can start at any age and usually develop after a single particular exposure to a toxic substance such as a solvent or pesticide. Eventually, other sensitivities can develop, usually after a period of illness or viral infections and symptoms worsen over several years.
Some people can develop MCS as a result of long-term exposure to very low-level toxins. And, once sensitized, these people will often react to minute traces of chemicals at levels far below those usually considered to be harmful.
If you suffer from MCS, you are not alone. A 2003 study found over 12% of the US population was affected with severe MCS. That’s over 36 million people! And experts believe that number will continue to rise.
Symptoms and Treatments
Symptoms of MCS include headache, asthma flareups, itchy and watery eyes, dizziness, sore throat, and even nausea. There is currently no medical treatment for MCS. The best thing a sufferer can do is to create a safe space in their home and/or office.
This requires that they remove all materials that may off-gas chemicals (carpeting included). Once this space has been created, MCS sufferers can experience what most of us take for granted on a daily basis: Life without constant irritation.
Can an Air Purifier Help with MCS?
Air purifiers are machines built to remove allergens, chemicals and volatile organic compounds from the air. For this reason, they can serve as an essential tool in the fight against MCS.
Having said this, it’s important that MCS sufferers know how to select the right air purifier for their home or office. Here are several key features to consider before you make a purchase.
Metal or Premium Plastic
Certain types of low-quality plastic can off-gas, sending harmful chemicals into the air. Exactly what CMS sufferers DON’T need. Be sure to look for high-quality units made of either metal or premium plastic.
Premium HEPA Filtration System
You’ve most likely heard of HEPA filters. These powerful filtration devices can remove microscopic particles from the air. But be sure to look for “True” or “Premium” HEPA on the label, anything less won’t do the job you require. Premium HEPA filters will also minimize the use of glues that may trigger MCS sufferers and will be made from a paper-based material.
Activated Carbon Filtration System
While HEPA filters are powerful, they are designed to remove particulate matter from the air, not toxic gases. For that you will need a unit that also uses an activated carbon filter.
Look for a filter that has a large volume of activated carbon. This will ensure your air purifier can remove a large volume of airborne chemicals for an extended period of time.
It’s important to mention that the type of activated carbon used may be an issue to those with MCS. There are two broad types of carbon: treated and untreated.
Untreated Activated Carbon
Untreated activated carbon is the most common type of carbon used to remove most types of chemicals from the air. But because it is untreated, it cannot remove ALL chemicals. For example, formaldehyde is a chemical that untreated carbon cannot remove from your home’s air.
Treated Activated Carbon
To help carbon filters be even more adsorptive, or reactive to chemicals in the air, manufacturers will sometimes treat the filters with additives. While this help the filter remove even more “bad guys” from the air, the additives themselves may be detected by extreme CMS sufferer.
If you believe you are an extreme sufferer, then it may be best to go for an untreated activated carbon filter.
If you are a CMS sufferer and would like to shop for an air purifier, we invite you to look through our units that have been specifically designed with CMS sufferers in mind.
We understand that shopping for an air purifier may be somewhat confusing. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to us. We can help you measure the room the unit will go in and choose the size that makes the most sense.
We don’t think of ourselves as a company that sells air purifiers; we believe we’re in the business of helping families breathe easier.