The May 12 stands since 1992 for the International Day of multiple chemical sensitivity (often: International Day for people who suffer from multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) – International Awareness Day for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity). The following lines examine what this medical day of action against multiple chemical intolerances is all about and why it deserves a permanent place in the calendar of curious holidays from all over the world.
What is multiple chemical sensitivity anyway?
Let us begin with a definitional approach to the topic of this day of action from the calendar of medical days of action: Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).
According to the ICD-10 classification of the WHO, MCS belongs to the group of chronic multi-system diseases as an allergy and manifests itself in severe intolerance to various volatile chemicals. In contrast to healthy people, people affected by MCS have a significantly lower tolerance threshold for substances that trigger symptoms and so the chemicals in exhaust gases, fragrances, cigarette smoke etc. can lead to severe irritation or a toxic effect.
The symptoms are usually expressed by a large number of unspecific physical complaints, which are often associated with mental disorders (see also the list of further links below and the (see also the article on International Rare Diseases Day (often also: Rare Disease Day, which has always been the last day in February since 2008).).
Who started the International Awareness Day for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?
As with so many other medical campaign days, the origins and backgrounds of the International Awareness Day for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity are relatively well documented. This “International Day for People Suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)” is part of the campaign of the so-called International Awareness Day (often also: International Awareness Day for Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases (CIND) – German International Day of Action chronic immune and neurological diseases).
This day of action was launched in 1992 by the American doctor Tom Hennessy and tries to create greater public awareness of the concerns of people affected by the following diseases:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (English Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)
- Fibromyalgia or Fibromyalgia Syndrome (English Fibromyalgia)
- Gulf War Syndrome
- Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
In the case of the MCS day of action, however, it is not entirely clear whether this event was part of this campaign from the start. Some sources refer to the year 1996 in this regard (see also the list of further links below).
Why does the International Day of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity fall on May 12th?
In contrast, in the course of the research for this article, I was unable to find out why the international day of action on multiple chemical sensitivity falls on May 12th. Although the date results from the previously described affiliation to International Awareness Day, here too there does not seem to be any direct reason for choosing the date.
In this respect it seems also no direct connection to also committed today US Day of odometer (Engl. National Odometer Day) or the date of Limerick (Engl. National Limerick Day) or the UK day of cucumber (English. National Cucumber Day ) to give. In this context, a connection to International Nurses Day, with which the life and work of the British nurse Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910) is commemorated on the occasion of her birthday, is at least more appropriate or likely in this context .
Goals and intention: What is the international MCS day of action about?
With May 12th, people affected by MCS try to draw special attention to their illness and the living conditions associated with it. Unfortunately, rallies in public places usually fail because of the lack of power and the ubiquitous fragrances.
Often the only way that remains is via websites, online portals, social media or the neighborhood / the (remaining) circle of friends. In short, the MCS day of action is primarily about creating a broader public for those affected and their relatives (see also the list of further links below).
The yellow ribbon and the canary symbolize MCS
As with so many other medical action days, there are in the case of MCS an internationally recognized symbol that solidarity should be shown (see also an example of the contribution to the World Parkinson’s Day (World Parkinson’s Day) on 11 April who uses a red tulip as a symbol).
Here it is the yellow ribbon or the color yellow based on the canaries that miners used to take with them into the shafts as a warning signal against a lack of oxygen. The bird fell off the perch when there was insufficient oxygen in the air. This was the signal for the miners to leave the mine shaft. But sometimes a green or a half green and half yellow ribbon is also used.
At this point, a final thank you to my reader Angelica Möller, who drew my attention to today’s day of action a few weeks ago and asked me to include it in the calendar of the curious world days. I am of course very happy to comply with this with this article.
In this sense: Show your solidarity with those affected.