Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: An acquired disorder characterized by recurrent symptoms, referable to multiple organ systems, occurring in response to demonstrable exposure to many chemically unrelated compounds at doses below those established in the general population to cause harmful effects. (Cullen MR. The worker with multiple chemical sensitivities: an overview. Occup Med 1987;2(4):655-61)Environmental Illness: A polysymptomatic condition believed by clinical ecologists to result from immune dysregulation induced by common foods, allergens, and chemicals, resulting in various physical and mental disorders. The medical community has remained largely skeptical of the existence of this "disease", given the plethora of symptoms attributed to environmental illness, the lack of reproducible laboratory abnormalities, and the use of unproven therapies to treat the condition. (From Segen, Dictionary of Modern Medicine, 1992)Environmental Medicine: Medical specialty concerned with environmental factors that may impinge upon human disease, and development of methods for the detection, prevention, and control of environmentally related disease.Sick Building Syndrome: A group of symptoms that are two- to three-fold more common in those who work in large, energy-efficient buildings, associated with an increased frequency of headaches, lethargy, and dry skin. Clinical manifestations include hypersensitivity pneumonitis (ALVEOLITIS, EXTRINSIC ALLERGIC); allergic rhinitis (RHINITIS, ALLERGIC, PERENNIAL); ASTHMA; infections, skin eruptions, and mucous membrane irritation syndromes. Current usage tends to be less restrictive with regard to the type of building and delineation of complaints. (From Segen, Dictionary of Modern Medicine, 1992)Environmental Health: The science of controlling or modifying those conditions, influences, or forces surrounding man which relate to promoting, establishing, and maintaining health.Psychophysiologic Disorders: A group of disorders characterized by physical symptoms that are affected by emotional factors and involve a single organ system, usually under AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM control. (American Psychiatric Glossary, 1988)Persian Gulf Syndrome: Unexplained symptoms reported by veterans of the Persian Gulf War with Iraq in 1991. The symptoms reported include fatigue, skin rash, muscle and joint pain, headaches, loss of memory, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal and respiratory symptoms, and extreme sensitivity to commonly occurring chemicals. (Nature 1994 May 5;369(6475):8)Toluene: A widely used industrial solvent.Environment, Controlled: A state in which the environs of hospitals, laboratories, domestic and animal housing, work places, spacecraft, and other surroundings are under technological control with regard to air conditioning, heating, lighting, humidity, ventilation, and other ambient features. The concept includes control of atmospheric composition. (From Jane's Aerospace Dictionary, 3d ed)Voluntary Health Agencies: Non-profit organizations concerned with various aspects of health, e.g., education, promotion, treatment, services, etc.Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic: A syndrome characterized by persistent or recurrent fatigue, diffuse musculoskeletal pain, sleep disturbances, and subjective cognitive impairment of 6 months duration or longer. Symptoms are not caused by ongoing exertion; are not relieved by rest; and result in a substantial reduction of previous levels of occupational, educational, social, or personal activities. Minor alterations of immune, neuroendocrine, and autonomic function may be associated with this syndrome. There is also considerable overlap between this condition and FIBROMYALGIA. (From Semin Neurol 1998;18(2):237-42; Ann Intern Med 1994 Dec 15;121(12): 953-9)Consumer Product SafetyOccupational Medicine: Medical specialty concerned with the promotion and maintenance of the physical and mental health of employees in occupational settings.Encyclopedias as Topic: Works containing information articles on subjects in every field of knowledge, usually arranged in alphabetical order, or a similar work limited to a special field or subject. (From The ALA Glossary of Library and Information Science, 1983)Steam Bath: Therapy of sitting in a hot steamy room followed by a cool bath or shower.Pleurodynia, Epidemic: An acute, febrile, infectious disease generally occurring in epidemics. It is usually caused by coxsackieviruses B and sometimes by coxsackieviruses A; echoviruses; or other enteroviruses.Encephalomyelitis: A general term indicating inflammation of the BRAIN and SPINAL CORD, often used to indicate an infectious process, but also applicable to a variety of autoimmune and toxic-metabolic conditions. There is significant overlap regarding the usage of this term and ENCEPHALITIS in the literature.

Prevalence of people reporting sensitivities to chemicals in a population-based survey. (1/104)

To describe the prevalence and correlates of reports about sensitivities to chemicals, questions about chemical sensitivities were added to the 1995 California Behavior Risk Factor Survey (BRFS). The survey was administered by telephone to 4,046 subjects. Of all respondents, 253 (6.3%) reported doctor-diagnosed "environmental illness" or "multiple chemical sensitivity" (MCS) and 643 (15.9%) reported being "allergic or unusually sensitive to everyday chemicals." Sensitivity to more than one type of chemical was described by 11.9% of the total sample population. Logistic regression models were constructed. Hispanic ethnicity was associated with physician-diagnosed MCS (adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 1.82, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.21-2.73). Female gender was associated with individual self-reports of sensitivity (adjusted OR = 1.63, 95% CI 1.23-2.17). Marital status, employment, education, geographic location, and income were not predictive of reported chemical sensitivities or reported doctor diagnosis. Surprising numbers of people believed they were sensitive to chemicals and made sick by common chemical exposures. The homogeneity of responses across race-ethnicity, geography, education, and marital status is compatible with a physiologic response or with widespread societal apprehensions in regard to chemical exposure.  (+info)

A review of multiple chemical sensitivity. (2/104)

OBJECTIVE: To review critically the scientific literature on multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). Definitions of MCS vary but, for this review, a broad definition of MCS was adopted as symptoms in more than one organ system elicited by various unrelated chemicals at very low levels of exposure. METHODS: A systematic literature search identified several hundred references from which key papers were selected. Two questions are considered, does MCS exist and what causes MCS. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Despite extensive literature on the existence of MCS, there is no unequivocal epidemiological evidence; quantitative exposure data are singularly lacking; and qualitative exposure data are, at best, patchy. There is also some evidence to suggest that MCS is sometimes used as an indiscriminate diagnosis for undiagnosed disorders. Despite this, the collated evidence suggests that MCS does exist although its prevalence generally seems to be exaggerated. Many causal mechanisms have been proposed, some suggesting a physical origin--such as MCS reflecting an immunological overload (total body load)--others favouring a psychological basis--such as MCS symptoms being evoked as part of a conditioned response to previous trauma. The available evidence seems most strongly to support a physical mechanism involving sensitisation of part of the midbrain known as the limbic system. However, it is increasingly being recognised that the psychological milieu of a person can considerably influence physical illness, either through generating a predisposition to disease or in the subsequent prognosis. Work is needed to establish the prevalence of MCS and to confirm or refute selected causal mechanisms.  (+info)

Acquisition and extinction of somatic symptoms in response to odours: a Pavlovian paradigm relevant to multiple chemical sensitivity. (3/104)

OBJECTIVES: Multiple chemical sensitivity is a poorly understood syndrome in which various symptoms are triggered by chemically unrelated, but often odorous substances, at doses below those known to be harmful. This study focuses on the process of pavlovian acquisition and extinction of somatic symptoms triggered by odours. METHODS: Diluted ammonia and butyric acid were odorous conditioned stimuli (CS). The unconditioned stimulus (US) was 7.4% CO2 enriched air. One odour (CS+) was presented together with the US for 2 minutes (CS+ trial), and the other odour (CS-) was presented with air (CS-trial). Three CS+ and three CS-exposures were run in a semi-randomised order; this as the acquisition (conditioning) phase. To test the effect of the conditioning, each subject then had one CS+ only--that is, CS+ without CO2--and one CS- test exposure. Next, half the subjects (n = 32) received five additional CS+ only exposures (extinction group), while the other half received five exposures to breathing air (wait group). Finally, all subjects got one CS+ only test exposure to test the effect of the extinction. Ventilatory responses were measured during and somatic symptoms after each exposure. RESULTS: More symptoms were reported upon exposure to CS+ only than to CS-odours, regardless of the odour type. Altered respiratory rate was only found when ammonia was CS+. Five extinction trials were sufficient to reduce the level of acquired symptoms. CONCLUSION: Subjects can acquire somatic symptoms and altered respiratory behaviour in response to harmless, but odorous chemical substances, if these odours have been associated with a physiological challenge that originally had caused these symptoms. The conditioned symptoms can subsequently be reduced in an extinction procedure. The study further supports the plausibility of a pavlovian conditioning hypothesis to explain the pathogenesis of MCS.  (+info)

A 37-year-old mechanic with multiple chemical sensitivities. (4/104)

A 37-year-old heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning mechanic developed respiratory, musculoskeletal, and central nervous system symptoms associated with a variety of odorous environmental chemicals. Organic disease was not evident, but the patient was distressed by these symptoms and was at risk for becoming disabled by them. His symptoms fit broadly into the condition recognized as multiple chemical sensitivity. Multiple chemical sensitivity is a diagnostic term for a group of symptoms without demonstrated organic basis. The symptoms are characteristic of dysfunction in multiple organ systems, they increase and decrease according to exposure to low levels of chemical agents in the patient's environment, and they sometimes occur after a distinct environmental change or insult such as an industrial accident or remodeling. Although traditional medical organizations have not agreed on a definition for this syndrome, it is being increasingly recognized and makes up an increasing percentage of the caseload at occupational and environmental medicine clinics. Although there is often dispute about whether the symptoms have a functional or organic basis, an informed approach to evaluation, diagnosis, and management and a careful assessment of impairment, disability, and work relatedness are necessary. Careful exclusion of organic causes is critical, and this should be followed by a judicious approach to coping with symptoms.  (+info)

Model development and research vision for the future of multiple chemical sensitivity. (5/104)

Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is characterized by heightened self-reported sensitivity to extremely low concentrations of chemicals. It has numerous symptoms in common with the sick building syndrome, the Gulf War syndrome, and chronic fatigue. Despite much research, reproducible objective findings are lacking for MCS, as is a sound model to explain it. This paper proposes a 2-step model combining the needed epidemiologic terminology with that of psychophysiological activation and sensitization. It is suggested that different environmental stressors act as initiators. After initiation, the limbic system and other parts of the brain become sensitized and hyperreactive to environmental triggers. Odor acts as one important trigger. Future research should use more biological assessments in combination with environmental and psychosocial data and involve patient groups with similar symptoms, although diagnosed as suffering from different entities. The similarities and differences of patients with such entities need to be understood before the entities themselves can be understood, diagnosed, treated, and prevented.  (+info)

Psychological test performance during experimental challenge to toluene and n-butyl acetate in cases of solvent-induced toxic encephalopathy. (6/104)

OBJECTIVES: This study determined whether performance in neurobehavioral tests deteriorates during subjectively annoying chemical challenge below known neurotoxic thresholds among persons with toxic encephalopathy with subjective hypersensitivity to chemicals. METHODS: Subjects with symptoms and previous neuropsychological test results compatible with toxic encephalopathy (TE) of either type 2A (N=12) or 2B (N=12) and unexposed referents (N=12) were challenged in an exposure chamber. In a counterbalanced design, the subjects were exposed on 2 occasions to increasing air concentrations of n-butyl acetate and toluene at levels well below the thresholds for neurotoxic effects. Attention and motor speed tests were given (i) in room air outside the chamber before the challenge, (ii) in room air inside the chamber before the exposure, (iii) at 12 ppm (44 or 56 mg/m3), and (iv) at 48 ppm (at 180 or 228 mg/m3). RESULTS: For both substances the TE groups showed a slight increase (deterioration) in the simple reaction-time task during chemical exposure, but not in the complex reaction-time task or in the digit symbol test of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. Contrary to reference subjects, the TE subjects did not show any improvement or learning effect in the digit symbol test over the chamber phases. n-Butyl acetate tended to affect cognitive functioning more obviously than toluene did. Suggestion or expectancy effects were not observed in any group in the clean-air baseline conditions. CONCLUSIONS: The results do not support the notion that men with subjective hypersensitivity to chemicals would be more affected than healthy men regarding cognitive functioning during annoying solvent exposure below thresholds for acute neurotoxic effects.  (+info)

Reproducibility of the University of Toronto self-administered questionnaire used to assess environmental sensitivity. (7/104)

Environmental sensitivity patients report symptoms provoked by low-level exposure to a wide range of substances. Features of published case definitions include nature of onset, chronicity, symptom provocation by multiple substances, symptom provocation by an escalating number of exposures, involvement of multiple body systems including the nervous system, provocation by unrelated substances, and addictive behaviors. This study assessed the reproducibility of a Canadian self-administered questionnaire, the University of Toronto Health Survey, designed to determine the prevalence of the features described in these case definitions. A total of 191 eligible respondents aged 16-70 years who attended several types of medical practices in 1994 were invited to complete a second questionnaire 5-7 months after the first; 134 (70.2%) complied. Total agreement on whether patients satisfied each of seven case definitions ranged from 80% to 90%. After adjustment for chance, major agreement was observed for three of the seven case definitions (kappa = 0.69, 0.68, and 0.78). The survey achieved good reproducibility regarding self-report of symptoms described in published case definitions of environmental sensitivity.  (+info)

A 4-year-old girl with manifestations of multiple chemical sensitivities. (8/104)

Multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) syndrome, also known as idiopathic environmental intolerance, is a controversial diagnosis that encompasses a wide range of waxing and waning, subjective symptoms referable to more than one body system and provoked by exposure to low levels of chemicals, foods, or other agents in the environment. Although MCS has been studied extensively, a unifying mechanism explaining the illness remains obscure, and clinicians are divided as to whether such a medical entity exists separately from psychosomatic syndromes. MCS is an adult diagnosis; there is little reference to pediatric cases in the scientific literature. In this case from the Pediatric Environmental Health Subspecialty Unit at Boston's Children's Hospital, I present the case of a preschool child who had suffered from milk allergy and poor weight gain as an infant, and then later developed asthma, allergic symptoms, sinusitis, headaches, fatigue, and rashes precipitated by an expanding variety of chemicals, foods, and allergens. I review definitions, mechanisms, diagnostic strategies, and management, and discuss some uniquely pediatric features of MCS as illustrated by this case.  (+info)

  • Information from the Integrated Mission System of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was used to investigate the employment discrimination experiences of Americans with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) in comparison to Americans in a general disability group with allergies, asthma, HIV, gastrointestinal impairment, cumulative trauma disorder and tuberculosis. (
  • The rate at which people are experiencing a barrage of health problems such as rashes, allergies, respiratory problems, difficulties focusing mentally due to fragrances and a gambit of other chemical sensitivities to cleaning supplies, off-gassing clothes, furniture, varnishes, new carpets etc. , is rising substantially. (
  • These persons may find organic clothing is an essential component of their self-care plan in reducing their exposure to the vast array of toxic chemicals that we are unknowingly (and now knowingly) exposing ourselves to every day. (
  • Although this explanation may not fully apply to multiple chemical sensitivity, undoubtedly the discriminating physician must include the impact of psychosocial elements when evaluating these patients. (
  • During the past five years, we have seen a growing percentage of patients with previously diagnosed multiple chemical sensitivity or a similar diagnosis who had undergone SPECT scans. (
  • In addition to the numerous chemical, hormonal, immunologic and neurologic assessments performed by the clinical ecologists, a new "objective" tool has been added to their armamentarium-the single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scan. (
  • Multiple chemical sensitivity is not simply a medical concern of diagnosis and treatment, but it is becoming a major social and economic issue with a strong activist agenda. (
  • Often, multiple chemical sensitivity begins with a reaction to one type of chemical or food, but then spreads to many others. (
  • Furthermore, even the American Medical Association recognizes that scented products can aggravate asthma and respiratory problems, so cutting our fragrance chemicals in your home can help family members, visitors, co-workers or schoolmates with these problems. (
  • Information from the Integrated Mission System of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was used to investigate the employment discrimination experiences of Americans with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) in comparison to Americans in a general disability group with allergies, asthma, HIV, gastrointestinal impairment, cumulative trauma disorder and tuberculosis. (
  • It is ideal for not only removing odours but for people with allergies, chemical sensitivities and asthma. (
  • All these patients, when thoroughly investigated, showed food and chemical sensitivitiet / intolerances on the CYTOTOXIC TEST, especially to cow's milk, gluten-containing grains, legumes and beans, all of which can cause severe malabsorption state for vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc. (
  • In their recent letter to the editor, 1 Drs. Fung and Kennon misrepresented the position of the World Health Organization (WHO) when they stated that WHO recommends changing the name of multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) to "idiopathic environmental intolerances. (
  • There has been some UK press coverage in 2016 of new research into how chemical fragrances from air fresheners can decay into formaldehyde in confined spaces. (
  • At Rawganique, our customers love us as much for what we leave out of our sweatshop-free organic products (the nasties such as PVC, BPA, dioxin, formaldehyde, bleach, chemical dyes, sweatshop-free labor, etc) as for the good stuff we put into our products (100% natural fibers from GMO-free organic agriculture). (
  • One of the main inspirations that keep us going is knowing that our customers can't take products made by other manufacturers, even organic ones, due to the formaldehyde, pesticide residues (due to poor oversight of even supposedly organic agriculture), or other chemicals used in the production process. (
  • It was determined that I had sustained a serious chemical injury through exposure to unsafe building materials that laced the interior of our new house trailer…especially formaldehyde. (
  • Many commercial mattresses are manufactured using polyurethane, synthetic fabrics, chemical fire retardants, toxic dyes, formaldehyde and stain-resistant chemicals. (
  • In addition to extreme sensitivity to low concentrations of certain chemicals, several hypotheses have been proposed. (
  • However, because of the extreme sensitivity that MCS sufferers experience, they tend to shy away from mainstream doctors anyway for fear of being put on medications that will detrimentally affect their health even further. (
  • Information about how extreme sensitivity and toxicity develop in the body, how sensitivity and toxicity differ, and how they often overlap. (
  • Detailed descriptions of each of the five major causes of extreme sensitivity and toxicity: mold, Bartonella (a co-infection of Lyme disease), mast cell activation, porphyria, and carbon monoxide poisoning. (
  • Perceived Treatment Efficacy for Conventional and Alternative Therapies Reported by Persons with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. (
  • OBJECTIVE: We aimed to evaluate the prevalence rates and interannual fluctuations in multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) in Japanese workers. (
  • Prevalence rates of between 1.0 and 2.9% have been estimated for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity in the states of South Australia and New South Wales, Australia, Table 1. (
  • Prevalence rates of chemical hypersensitivity were, 7.5% for children 2-15 year old, 16% for the South Australian survey and 24.6% in the 2002 NSW survey. (
  • In addition to the numerous chemical, hormonal, immunologic and neurologic assessments performed by the clinical ecologists, a new "objective" tool has been added to their armamentarium-the single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scan. (
  • Nonetheless, their standardized use in clinical settings is still lacking, long overdue, and greatly needed --- especially in light of government studies in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada that revealed 2-4 times as many cases of chemical sensitivity among Gulf War veterans than undeployed controls. (
  • The Chemical Senses Branch supports both basic and applied research, with most of its funds going to just five "chemosensory research centers" : the Connecticut Chemosensory Clinical Research Center (860-679-2459), Monell Chemical Senses Center (215-898-6666), Rocky Mountain Taste and Smell Center (303-315-5650), State University of New York Clinical Olfactory Research Center (315-464-5588), and University of Pennsylvania Smell and Taste Center (215-662-6580). (
  • Broadly speaking however, the physical route of initialization of multiple chemical sensitivity is NOT well understood, although in the USA, in a study into the effects of the drug Neurontin, one part of the study specifically linked brain injury to the onset of multiple chemical sensitivity, concluding that the injury allowed easier sensitization to MCS excitants to occur than would otherwise have been the case. (
  • In addition, state health department surveys of civilians in New Mexico and California showed that 2-6%, respectively, already had been diagnosed with MCS and that 16% of the civilians reported an "unusual sensitivity" to common everyday chemicals. (
  • Up to 16% of individuals report some form of "unusual sensitivity" to common everyday chemicals (a phenomenon which is culturally restricted to North America and Europe). (
  • Bolt H, Kiesswetter E (2002) Is multiple chemical sensitivity a clinically defined entity? (
  • In any case, according to theories like TILT and the anecdotal experiences of millions of MCS sufferers, failure to avoid exposure to chemical that trigger a reaction may result in sensitisation to other chemicals that were previously tolerable. (
  • Use of the term "multiple chemical sensitivity" (MCS) as a diagnostic label has generated increasing controversy during the past few decades as a phenomenon related to exposure to chemical agents sustained both in indoor and outdoor environments. (
  • They occur in response to demonstrable exposure to chemical compounds at doses far below those known to cause harmful effects in the general population. (