The Chem Reaper
Multiple Chemical Sensitivities Slowly Gaining Recognition
For years, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities has been dismissed by the mainstream medical community and most public officials as a phantom, a loosely related set of symptoms — everything from migraines to aches to vomiting — with no consistent physiological underpinning. But as MCS — which is characterized by adverse reactions to a wide range of synthetic chemicals — becomes more common and its sufferers more organized, the syndrome is gaining legitimacy. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development now considers it a disability under law and Social Security will consider it on a case-by-case basis. Nonetheless, MCS remains maddeningly enigmatic. There is no definitive test to detect it or course of treatment to ameliorate it, no widespread agreement on its causes or even its existence, and no way for its sufferers to completely avoid the tens of thousands of chemicals in current use.