Everyday Chemicals May Be Affecting Your Health


MACI, P.O. Box 754, Andover, MA 01810 (978) 681-5117


Perhaps you have chronic symptoms (scratchy/sore throat, headache, difficulty concentrating, fatigue,  etc.). Medical tests may have failed to show a cause, so you’ve tried to ignore these symptoms. What could possibly happen to you, right? ...Well, these seemingly harmless symptoms may actually be your body’s warning signals that something in your environment is overloading you.  It may get worse.  Some individuals may have their health suddenly spiral downward, perhaps developing Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, a severe form of environmental illness. It may happen to you.


Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS):  A preventable, chronic condition in which a person develops greatly increased sensitivities to common chemicals and other irritants.  A person may develop MCS from repeated low-level exposures to various environmental chemicals or agents, or from an acute exposure.  This illness is not like getting a cold or the flu, and then recovering.  MCS reactions can be very serious, even life threatening, involving any part of the body (brain, lungs, skeletal muscle, heart, etc.).  MCS afflicts people in all walks of life, and it disables.  Prevention is crucial.  Once afflicted, recovery is difficult and incomplete.


You may not know if you are at risk for MCS until too late. Researchers estimate that 15% of the population have an increased allergic sensitivity to chemicals commonly found in household products. Incidence of environmental illness and MCS is escalating.


Where Are These Environmental Chemicals?


- Carpeting/furnishings (esp. new):  thousands of volatile organic compounds

- Air ducts:  asbestos, microbial growth, mineral or fiberglass fibers

- Moist or leaking areas: mold, mildew

- Copiers/printers: toners and other volatile organic compounds


·    Household/Office Cleaners and Disinfectants

Chlorine (can form organo-chlorines and dioxins), ammonia, lye, petroleum distillates, nitrobenzene, naphtha. Disinfectants also contain phenol, formaldehyde, ethanol


·    Synthetic Fragrances (called simply ‘fragrance’ on ingredients labels)

'Fragrance’ is in most laundry products (fabric softener and dryer sheets especially), body care products, perfume, cleaning products, air fresheners.  Among the many possible immuno- and neurotoxic chemicals in ‘fragrance’ are:  acetone, benzaldehyde, camphor, ethyl acetate, limonene, linalool, methyline chloride, terpineol.  Health effects testing of these compounds is woefully incomplete.


·    Synthetic Pesticides and Fertilizers

Our food and indoor and outdoor environments are affected. Chemicals include: organo-chlorines, organo-phosphates, petrochemicals.


How Can I Minimize My Exposure to Toxic Chemicals?

·    Choose natural fiber carpet, or no carpet.  Heed your body’s symptoms and investigate unhealthy indoor air; remove, ventilate, purify (air filtering), in this order of priority.

·    Choose natural/low toxic cleaning products: Bon Ami instead of chlorinated cleanser, plant based over petroleum based, hot soapy water or borax for disinfecting.

·    Eliminate or minimize synthetic fragrances; choose natural alternatives/'fragrance free’. Don’t use scented dryer anti-cling sheets--dry like fabrics together to eliminate cling.

·          Buy ‘organic‘/natural foods.  Research natural pest control and fertilizing methods. Note:  Lawns are heartier with organic fertilizers that encourage deep roots.





Eliminate as many as possible of the items below, especially those that make you feel unwell.  A list of approved substitutes will follow this table.


Air deodorizers & sprays



Carpet (except all cotton, all untreated wool, Persian, Chinese, etc.)

Car exhaust (including from open window or attached garage)

Cedar wood or chips

Clothing containing polyester

Copy machine toner


Deodorants & antiperspirants




Electric blankets & sheets

Fabric softeners

Felt-tip peas

Flame proof mattresses

Floor cleaners, strippers & waxes


Fragranced products (any & all)

Fungicides (& treated wall piper)

Furniture polish

Gas appliances (stoves & other)

Hair sprays

Insecticide sprays & no pest strips

Kerosene & gasoline

Lacquer & Varnish

Mineral oil

Moth balls and crystals

Moth proofed paper

Mouth wash

Nail polish & remover

News print & ink

Oil and Lubricants

Oven Cleaner



Perfume & perfumed products, after shaves

Permanent-press clothing

Pillow cases & sheets cont. polyester

Pine scented cleaners

Plastics (that emit odors i.e. mattress covers, tablecloths, shower curtains, draperies, vinyl food wrappers, shelf paper)

Rubber foam cushions & mattresses

Scented soap, shampoo, conditioner


Smoke from frying & baking

Stain proof upholstery & carpet

Synthetic clothing

Teflon pots and pans

Tobacco smoke





Borax and Baking Soda = Parts

1/2 Hydrogen Peroxide instead of Bleach

Granny’s Power Plus Laundry Detergent

Life Tree Detergent

Arm & Hammer Detergent, Perfume & Dye Free

Shaklee Power Formula Basic L Free, Laundry Concentrate

Vinegar or Lemon Juice and water

Baking soda and water

Original Bon Ami

Super Washing Soda

Life Tree for Automatic Dishwasher

AFM: Super Clean and Safety Clean

Earth Rite

Shaklee Basic H

Granny’s Body Satin, Shampoo & Cream Rinse

Tom’s of Maine Toothpaste

Rock Crystal Deodorant

Unscented Vegetable Glycerin Soap

Unscented Ivory soap, shampoo, cream rinse

Original Nutragena

Pure Essentials Fragrance Free Shampoo


Opportunities for discussion of this, and information about other topics are available from:  Toxics Information Project (TIP), Tel. 401-351-9193 or E-Mail:  TIP@toxicsinfo.org

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