Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

Definition

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is “a diagnostic label for people who suffer multi-system illnesses as a result of contact with, or proximity to, a variety of airborne agents and other substances." (EPA)

General Information

Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) was identified in a 1989 multidisciplinary survey of 89 clinicians and researchers, and modified in 1999. Top consensus criteria (Multiple chemical sensitivity: a 1999 consensus, 1999) for MCS define the condition by these criteria:



A chronic condition.
Symptoms recur reproducibly.
Symptoms recur in response to low levels of chemical exposure.
Symptoms occur when exposed to multiple unrelated chemicals.
Symptoms improve or resolve when trigger chemicals are removed.
Multiple organ systems are affected.

Toxic substances that people with MCS become disabled by include any quantity of exposures to pesticides, secondhand smoke, alcohol, fresh paint, scented products and perfumes, candles, fragrances, food preservatives, flavor enhancers, aerosols, tap water, cosmetics, personal care products, new carpets, petroleum products, formaldehyde, outdoor pollutants, newspaper ink, cleaning compounds, printing and office products, and other synthetically derived chemicals. Some also become ill from natural products that are highly concentrated such as natural orange cleaners due to high volatile organic compound and pesticide concentration. Symptoms can range from minor annoyances (headache, runny nose) to life-threatening reactions (seizures, anaphalaxis).