Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

Boston Self Help Center’s Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) Project aims to both ease the lives of those who are living with MCS and help to prevent the illness. We believe that through education and understanding this potentially debilitating condition can be contained and made manageable.

What Is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?

Not a lot of people know about MCS, but it is a condition that has become more and more prevalent and is interfering with the lives of more and more people. The more prevalent MCS becomes the more likely it is that you, your family, or your friends will be affected by the illness.

Although it is not known exactly why, people with MCS are severely sensitive to a range of common chemicals such as those found in soap, perfume, cigarette smoke, paint, pesticides, automobile exhaust, clothing, and plastics. Many people have some chemical sensitivities; exposure to perfume or cigarette smoke often causes headaches, sore throats, and congestion in otherwise healthy people. In people who have MCS, however, the person reacts adversely to a large number of chemicals and allergens, with the number and type often increasing over time and the symptoms becoming more severe.

MCS can be debilitating, even life-threatening. However, it is also preventable.

What We Do

BSHC’s MCS Project provides information and referral services and short-term support to people with concerns about MCS. (See “About Our Information and Referral Service” and “About Our Peer Counseling Program.”) We also give trainings about MCS to both small and large groups. Generally about 1- to 1½-hours in length, these trainings are offered on a sliding fee scale and can be tailored to meet a range of needs.

Recently, Boston Self Help Center has been developing a full-day training about MCS that is geared specifically to paratransit-service providers. Our hope is to make this training available to transportation services throughout the country, principally by means of webinars and a detailed guide.

Secondhand Scent: Accommodating People with MCS

mcsThis 36-minute video, available in both VHS and DVD format through Boston Self Help Center, gives basic information about MCS and shows the human side of the illness. It is effective in conveying to family, friends, health-care providers, and co-workers the importance of accommodating people with this very serious condition.

Secondhand Scent is closed captioned and is narrated for access to people with print disabilities. It is available at a cost of $15 to $25 for individuals, $30 to $50 for agencies.


For More Information

If you would like more information about Secondhand Scent, our trainings, or any of the other services that the MCS Project provides, please call our message line at (617) 277-0080. We will return your call within two business days.

“I just wanted to tell you what a wonderful, wonderful job Rosemary [BSHC’s presenter] did speaking at the [MCS] training this morning. I was so thrilled and impressed by all the information she gave and provided as handouts. It was clear, easy to understand and she commanded control of the audience amazingly.”

–Attendee at one of Boston Self Help Center’s MCS trainings