www.healsoaz.org  l  HEAL of Southern Arizona MCS Web Guide



The Dirty Dozen

12 Health Hazards You Can Eliminate


ELIMINATING the following pollutants saves money and improves air quality for everyone, especially babies in utero, children, seniors, and those with chronic health problems such as asthma, allergies, and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities.


1.       Pesticides and


Bug spray, ant and roach killer, flea bombs, flea collars, herbicides (weed killers); all are hazardous to health even when applied as directed. Many people have developed MCS following exposure to pesticide treatments applied by licensed operators.

Instead, use effective, inexpensive Alternative Pest Control


2.       Tobacco smoke

The health effects of second-hand smoke are well known. In addition, a single whiff of smoke could make a person with MCS sick for hours or longer. Smoke lingers on skin, hair, clothing, furnishings, car seats, and in the lungs.

If you are going to be around a person with MCS, please do not smoke.


3.       Burning – trash,

      fireplaces, incense

Even pleasant-smelling smoke from a fireplace, incense, or burning leaves consists of air-polluting particles and toxic chemicals. Both a lit cigarette and a pile of burning leaves create smoke, tars, and formaldehyde; burning trash adds other dangerous chemicals. Instead, learn not to burn.


4.       Harsh and scented

      cleaning products

Disinfectants, ammonia, bleach, Ajax, Windex, Mr. Clean, Lysol, and Scrubbing Bubbles all contain toxic chemicals. Artificial fragrances are added to everything from Raid to Tide, so the average person is bombarded with scented products in the course of a day.

Choose cheaper, healthier, fragrance-free Less Toxic Cleaning Products.


5.       Dryer sheets, fabric softeners

These products are harmful to health and pose a fire risk in your dryer and on your clothing, pollute your neighbors’ air when vented by clothes dryers, and often make a walk in the neighborhood impossible for chemically sensitive neighbors.

See Neighborhood Health Notice and Fabric Softeners, The Health Risks.


6.       Perfume, cologne, scented

      personal products

Fragrances severely affect many people, especially those with asthma, allergies, and chemical sensitivities. Both artificial and natural scents are potent stimulators of the nervous system (witness the popularity of Aromatherapy), and trigger an immune and emotional response – see Health Risks of Perfume. The best odor is no odor.Eliminate superfluous scents in your life – see Less Toxic Personal Products.


7.       Air Fresheners, deodorizers, scented candles, potpourri

These products contain toxic chemicals and only pollute the air even further. Many contain a chemical that deadens nasal receptors. People with MCS cannot enter a bathroom in which air fresheners are used, and even react to residues of these products on the clothing of others. Instead, use good ventilation and good hygiene.


8.       Spraying anything

Products such as Windex, hair spray, and pesticides were never intended for your lungs. Spraying releases a vapor of toxic substances and propellants that may take 12 to 36 hours to settle completely and can be breathed in and contacted long after spraying.

Switch to solids, liquids, and powders, which are generally safer.


9.       Dry cleaning

Buy clothes that don't require dry cleaning (e.g. washable rayon or silk) or choose a dry cleaner that does not use “perc” (perchloroethylene), a hazardous substance.


10.   Moth balls

Most wool products are treated to be moth resistant now. For heirlooms you can use cedar chips or store clothes in a cedar chest or use a generous amount of lavender flowers.  Be sure to air clothes for several days after storing with any of these repellants.


11.   Furniture polish


Polish unvarnished wood with almond, walnut, or olive oil; beeswax and olive oil; or a mixture of 1 part lemon juice to 2 parts olive oil (work it in well and wipe off excess because oily surfaces attract dirt). To clean and polish varnished wood, use a mild vegetable oil soap.




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