What Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is not


MCS is not having an increased sense of smell. That’s hyperosmia.

MCS is not finding the smell of perfume or other chemicals unbearable. That’s probably the olfactory equivalent of being sensitive to noise or light.

MCS is not getting anxious or panicking when you smell a chemical or believe you are being exposed to one. That’s anxiety or phobia.

People with MCS get symptoms when they are exposed to low levels of chemicals they are sensitive to. They may or may not be able to smell the chemicals. Some people with MCS do have an increased sense of smell, but there are also people with MCS who have no sense of smell at all. People with MCS often react to chemicals that have no odour.

Some people can’t stand strong smells, or in some cases any smells at all. This doesn’t mean they have MCS. Some people with MCS find some smells unbearable, but people with MCS can also like the smells of chemicals they react to or not even notice them.

Some people with MCS feel anxious about chemicals they react to, but others don’t. People with MCS are probably more likely to be anxious about chemicals than people who don’t have MCS, just as people who have been bitten by a dog are probably more likely to be anxious about dogs than people who haven’t been bitten by a dog. However, nobody would confuse the symptoms of anxiety with the symptoms of a dog bite, but it is possible to confuse the symptoms of anxiety with symptoms of MCS.



  1. Christine

    Very well explained

  2. Theresa

    Thank you for sharing the awareness on MCS and what its not, good valid points to distinguish the differences. Having MCS, its appreciated when people raise awarness to a growing health issue, and all the best to you in 2012. May we all make wiser choices for a healthier tomorrow by eliminating dryer sheets, fabric softeners, and all heavy scented laundry products, especially GAIN and FEBREZE among so many others. There are better choices that are healthier, dryer balls, woollen dryer balls – saves money on dryer time, static-eliminator cloths that can be reused more than 100 times for the dryer and for the washing machine try the tree nut soaps – it may seem expensive at first but they are not. There are no plastic bottles or boxes to recycle, the nuts can be reused 5 to 6 times and then composted. Plus, an added bonus you can mix the soap nuts with shampoo, handsoap, and other products – saving both money, plastic, and toxic chemicals. The instructions come with the tree nut soap. So, have a safe or safer 2012 by making wise choices for our common environment and please respect a fragrance-free or unscented environment, as we all have human rights and you have a choice – we don’t. Let’s mark 2012 for wiser environmental choices! Thank you!

  3. HI, do you have any information on MCS individuals who have no sense of smell that have had studies done on them? I think this is an area where education could focus because until someone is effected in that way, a smell is just a perceptive thing, they can’t see how it causes a physical reaction.

    • In this study http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10380782 researchers exposed patients’ eyes to perfume while using nose clips or face masks to make sure they couldn’t smell anything. They got symptoms including cough and shortness of breath.

      Maybe it would help to point out that if you can smell something it means that molecules of it have got into your nose – that’s how the sense of smell works. Eye and skin exposure to chemicals can also be a problem.

  4. Reblogged this on Annelie on asthma, humor, and the world. and commented:
    Learn what MCS is not. Those who have MCS is normal people with a physical disorder.

    • Thanks, Annelie. I like your blog!

      • Thank you, so kind of you. 🙂

  5. Great post.


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