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I’ve been doing this Q&A blog for about ten years, so there are literally thousands of questions and answers here. If you’ve got a question, there’s probably an answer, and if there isn’t post a question of your own. It’s free.

Spain incorporates Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) in its International Classification of Diseases

From Debra Lynn Dadd

Spain has recognized Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
Day 09/26/2014 – 3:56 a.m.

Incorporating the health system has been made in accordance with guidelines approved by WHO and other countries had already adopted

Spain has officially recognized multiple chemical sensitivity ( MCS ) to incorporate its International Classification of Diseases or ICD (the system that classifies the Health and encodes their diagnoses). With this decision, Spain joins the list of countries that recognize MCS as a disease: Germany (2000), Austria (2001), Japan (2009), Switzerland (2010) and Denmark (2012).

The process was carried out through a non-legislative proposal (PNL) presented by Deputy María del Carmen Quintanilla’s Party;following a request made to it by the Fund for the Protection of Environmental Health ( Fodesam ), in collaboration with theInformation Service Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Environmental Health ( SISS ).

The SQM radically changes the lives of those who suffer. The recognition was a longstanding demand of those affected by a disease that turns many common chemicals in everyday life a torment for those affected by MCS. Detergents, soaps, colognes, or air fresheners become aggressive to them products they produce palpitations, vomiting, skin irritation or recurrent headaches. “MCS changes the lives of those who suffer and forces, in many cases, to live with many preventive measures to not contact or in the air, with these products,” says Carmen Quintanilla. Go outside or into a store can be, for these people, impossible to perform tasks.

This condition was further added the inappropriate treatment that many of these patients receive from the health system. Because it does not appear in the ICD as a disease is in an administrative “limbo” that involves “a state of complete helplessness. Something that should end with the recognition of MCS as a disease.

“The situation of these people is very difficult,” says Carlos Prada,Chairman of Fodesam. His intolerance synthetic substances frequently used in society often forces them to live homebound, almost like “bubble people”; wear a mask and the few times they go out.

MCS affects the central nervous system, but may also cause malfunctions in other systems such as respiratory, gastrointestinal or heart. This is an “emerging disease” of chronic nature and “environmental toxic ‘causing a’ physiological response to many agents and chemical compounds” that can be found in air fresheners, colognes, personal care products, cleaning supplies, food, water Griffin, clothing, cosmetics, snuff … Therefore, although as in other diseases MCS have degrees and symptoms vary according to the parameters of health and “chemical” environment of the patient, it is a problem difficult to handle, further “limited remarkable quality of life “form, noting the non-legislative proposal.

See article at BBC: Mundo: La difícil vida de las “personas burbuja”

International Classification of Diseases (ICD)

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Dry-cleaned clothes and Evaporation Rates of Solvents

Question from Stacey

Hi Debra,

I have some dry-cleaned clothes still in the plastic that have been in my closet for about 6 years. Would these be safe by now to wear, or would you dispose of them?

Thank you!

Debra’s Answer

The dry cleaning solvent perchorethylene is very volatile and will evaporate completely. I can’t tell you exactly the evaporation rate because it depends on the conditions. (Just so you get how complex this is, take a look at this paper on how to calculate evaporation rate which uses perc as an example).

So if you brought you dry-cleaned clothes home from the cleaners 6 years ago and had removed the plastic and hung them outdoors so the perc could freely evaporate, I would say in a day or so. Certainly 3 days or 7 days there would be nothing left. The plastic, however, slows evaporation. At 6 years I don’t know what it would be. But you could simply take the clothing out of the closet, remove the plastic, put them outdoors, and within several days the perc would evaporate completely.

As long as we are talking about evaporation, there is a toxicological factor of solvents called the “evaporation rate.” Each solvent has it’s own evaporation rate. These rates are established by supposing the evaporation rate of ether (or some other substance) = 1 and by indicating other slower drying solvents as multiples of the evaporation rate of substance it is being related to.

As an example, here is a chart of the evaporation rates of solvents used in printing inks, using ether=1.


But this still doesn’t tell us how long it would take for your perc to evaporate.

The MSDS definition of evaporation rate is “the rate at which a material will vaporize (evaporate, change from liquid to vapor) compared to the rate of vaporization of a specific known material. This quantity is a ratio, therefore it is unitless.” (MSDS HyperGlossary: Evaporation Rate)

In general usage we think of it as the amount of material that evaporates from a surface per unit of time. So there are three variables
* amount of evaporated material
* per space
* per time

Here is a chart where butyl acetate=1.


The problem is that you need to start with the evaporation rate of butyl acetate, which is unknown because the number would depend on a number of variables, such as temperature, atmospheric pressure, humidity, air flow, viscosity, and, as in the case of your dry cleaning, whether or not it was covered.

But here’s something you can glean from this chart. The evaporation rate of water is classified at 0.3. Heat the water and it will evaporate faster as we can observe as steam. Freeze it and it won’t evaporate at all. That’s true for solvents too—heat speeds evaporation. But if you know water is classified as 0.3 on the butyl alcohol scale, and you know that is slow evaporation, then you can tell that acetone (nail polish) at 5.6 is five times faster.

There is a line on the MSDS for “volatility” in Section 9: Physical and Chemical Properties, but there is no data on the MSDS for perc.

Well, there’s the science lesson for today. I wish it were simpler. I just try to think in terms of is it going to evaporate fast or slower. Formaldehyde, for example, evaportates pretty quickly from an open bottle, and very slowly when bound up in a resin in particleboard.

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Why Organic Fish is a Terrible Idea

From Debra Lynn Dadd

I’m forwarding this to you from Max Goldberg…

The USDA is very close to finalizing standards for organic
fish and what it has come up with is absolutely horrible.

If organic is important to you (even if you don’t eat fish), I
strongly urge you to read what is going on and take action.

Why Organic Fish is a Bad, Bad Idea

As always, thank you so much for supporting organic food!
Max Goldberg

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Electric Tea Kettle

Question from Mira

Does anyone know of a chemically safe electric tea kettle? I drink tea all day long and would like something that heats up quickly and turns off automatically. Thanks.

Debra’s Answer


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Need To Choose An Insulation

Question from Gayle


I’m needing to add more insulation to my home which was built in the 1960’s. There are SO many choices. Since it’s an established home, it seems easiest to have insulation “blown in”. Foam types scare me. Has anyone used “Green Fiber” from Lowe’s? They say it’s formaldehyde free and made of 85% recycled materials . . . I’m open to suggestions!



Debra’s Answer

Readers, can you offer your experience?

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Neem Oil May Be Toxic

Question from SARA

Hello Debra,

My name is Ines and the story I am about to tell you is truly horrible.

I am a victim of the false advertising of piggy paint, which was what lead me to your article. My 4 year old daughter almost died because she accidentally ingested piggy paint. But it wasn’t the chemicals that affected her…it was the NEEM OIL!!!!!

I originally bought the product because the founder advertised that her kids put their hands in their mouths all the time and that’s why she created the product.

I desperately need more help because the research in this is so limited. I am worried that something can happen to another child.
The symptoms include drowsiness, lethargy, seizures, respiratory arrest which can lead to death and coma. I do not understand why neem oil would be in a product advertised for children since it is known to be hazardous even for pregnant women. If you can help me in any way I would be very grateful. Thank you for you article as well.

Debra’s Answer

I agree with you that neem oil should not be in a product where it is expected that children would put it in their mouths.

Here is the neem oil side effects list from WebMD:


What kind of help do you need? Is your daughter OK now?

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Menopause: safe moisturizers for dryness?

Question from Susaninnyc

Hi everyone,
(And Debra, thank you for all you do!)

I need some advice. I have severe MCS, I’m now in menopause and my gyn suggested Replens (a vaginal moisturizer) for dryness and atrophy. I looked at the ingredients in Replens and they’re basically bottles of industrial chemicals-ugh!

I found what looks like a somewhat better alternative called Luvena, but it still has Polypropylene Glycol and Propanediol, along with a few other other unrecognizable ingredients. Does anyone know of other alternatives?


Debra’s Answer

Try Aloe Cadabra. It’s the first personal lubricant that’s all natural and contains 95% organic aloe vera. Feels nice too. Comes in nice natural flavors and unscented, too.

Order Aloe Cadabra from

There are some other natural and organic lubricants on this page, I haven’t checked all the ingredients of all of them. I’m familiar with Aloe Cadabra.

Readers, which do you like?

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Blue Indicator on Toothbrushes

Question from Annette Tweedel

Hi Debra,

I use the Oral B blue indicator toothbrush. Well I just did some research and found out that the blue indicator is a blue dye, Coomassie Brilliant Blue. Wouldn’t that be considered not healthy? Should I be looking for another toothbrush?

Debra’s Answer

Well, I looked up Coomassie Brilliant Blue dye and found out that it is not soluable in water, so it would pretty much stick to the material of the brush, which is probably nylon.

I prefer using natural bristle toothbrushes myself. That way there is no question about dyes.

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galvanized steel

Question from Stacey

Hi Debra,

I found some “rustproof galvanized steel” containers to use as storage/recycle bins. Do you think these are safe to use as storage containers (toys, clothes, or even dog food)?

Thank you!

Debra’s Answer

Galvanizing is the process of coating iron or steel with a thin layer of zinc to prevent the metal from rusting. There are two methods: “hot-dipped”, which consists of passing the continuous length of metal through a molten bath, followed by an air stream “wipe” that controls the thickness of the zinc finish; and “electro-galvanizing”, which fuses the zinc to the metal electrolytically.

I don’t see anything toxic about this. When I had a cat, I dumped the big bag of cat food into a small galvanized garbage can with a handle and a lid. It was perfect to keep it fresh.

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Why Toxic Chemicals Continue to Be in Consumer Products

From Debra Lynn Dadd

An interesting article was released in Newsweek magazine this past week, about endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), such as bisphenol A (BPA).

“For the first time anywhere in the world, the Europe Union (EU) is attempting to regulate endocrine disrupting chemicals, setting down criteria to define, identify and, where necessary, ban EDCs. Already, this is sending shockwaves through boardrooms across the world because companies selling their goods in Europe will be forced by law to comply. Everyday goods may be taken off the market; industry could lose ­billions. The emphasis is on the word “could” because the fightback has already begun. Already a year over deadline, the procedure has finally gone to public consultation, where it has met with uproar.”

It very clearly describes what we consumers are up against. Over and over we ask, if there is scientific evidence that a chemical is toxic, why is it still allowed to be on the market? Isn’t the government protecting us?

Well, it seems that even when a government tries to protect us, there are other forces at work.

So we need to have a consumer voice that is even stronger.

Read more at Newsweek: Calls to Ban Toxic Chemicals Fall on Deaf Ears Around the World

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