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The Canaries: Photographer Thilde Jensen’s Portraits of Men and Women with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)

Take a look at the photo series on Thilde’s website


‘Canaries Statement’, by Thilde Jensen

The Canaries series comes out of a personal encounter with a hyper-sensitive dimension of reality, invisible to most – it is a story that carries an alarming message about the human cost of progress.

Since World War II the production and use of synthetic petroleum derived chemicals has exploded. We live in a world today where man-made chemicals are part of every breath we take and where electro magnetic emissions are beaming at us from every corner.

As a result it is believed that more than ten million Americans have developed a disabling condition referred to as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) or Environmental Illness (EI). EI is a condition in which the immune and central nervous systems go into extreme reactions when exposed to small amounts of daily chemicals like perfume, cleaning products, car exhaust, printed matter, construction materials and pesticides.

When the delicate balance of life first has been broken there seems no end to how sensitive we can become or to which element one might sensitize. In addition to chemicals some react to food, electromagnetic fields, textiles and even light – making life a near impossibility.

Many people with EI end up living as refugees in remote areas out of tents, cars, or retro-fitted trailers, away from dangers of neighbors’ chemical use. Others are prisoners of their homes, with advanced air filter systems to keep outside air from contaminating their breathing space.

At the core of the bizarre, and sometimes freakish, appearance of Environmental Illness is a questioning of the sanity of a human world continuing to develop in a manner that is toxic to life itself.