Elizabeth Feudale-Bowes of Pennsylvania suffers from such an extreme case of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) that she must live in a chemical-free “bubble” for ten hours a day.
She is sensitive to fabric softener, nail polish, perfume, new sneakers, and upholstery, among other items. Her symptoms include migraines, joint pain, bladder inflammation, seizures, and temporary paralysis.
She spends most of her day in a galvanized steel and porcelain shed behind her house. The inside of the shed resembles a prison cell – it contains a toilet, a metal cabinet, a box spring with the metal coils exposed, and a bunch of organic cotton blankets – but it’s her only sanctuary from a world that makes her violently ill.
“If I don’t live like this, my pain level is so severe that I can’t function, I can’t live, I can’t survive. It’s excruciating,” Feudale-Bowes, 52, told the Associated Press.
And now a judge has ordered that her bubble be dismantled by the end of the month because it breaks zoning rules. Feudale-Bowes’ husband hooked up electrical, water, and sewer service without securing proper permits, and neighbors are concerned that the shed will lower their property values.
“My wife’s not a lawn mower, and I didn’t put up an illegal shed just to mess with the township,” said her husband. They are considering suing the township under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
How did Feudale-Bowes become so sensitive to so many chemicals? Many experts think that MCS develops with cumulative exposure. Over time, chemicals seem to wear down the immune systems of some people, making them increasingly sensitive.
(After reading about Feudale-Bowes, I feel lucky that I’m only sensitive to some cleaning chemicals and strong fragrances.)
How to Prevent MCS
The best way to prevent MCS is to keep your immune system healthy and avoid synthetic chemicals. Never use artificial fragrances in your home; instead, use an air purifier for odors, which will also eliminate other toxic airborne chemicals. Use natural cleaners instead of chemical cleaners. Vapor steam cleaners, for instance, are wonderful chemical-free cleaning systems.
Keep your home free of chemical residues by dusting and vacuuming frequently. Be sure to use a HEPA-filtered vacuum; otherwise, you’re simply stirring up allergens and pollutants when you vacuum. Sleep on allergy bedding to protect your immune system at night.
Also get plenty of rest, drink plenty of purified water, eat healthy, organic foods, and exercise regularly. It’s impossible to avoid synthetic chemicals in our modern world, but if you can avoid the majority of them and keep your immune system healthy, then you should be able to prevent extreme MCS.