Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Chemical Sensitivity: Complaining Can Be A Good Thing

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Chemical Sensitivity: Complaining Can Be A Good Thing

Article excerpt

The first U.S. conference devoted to multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), held recently in Santa Fe, N.M., delivered a big boost to the effort to increase public awareness of the ailment.

MCS is usually a permanent condition and affects millions, although many people are unaware they have the ailment or that it exists, according to John Wilson, president of the Chemical Injury Information Network, the group that organized the event. Lack of public awareness is perhaps the root of the MCS problem.

Defining MCS is problematic, because its effects are broad and varied. For those with chronic MCS, symptoms include asthma, sinus and respiratory problems, digestive disturbances, skin rashes, blood diseases, neurological disorders and brain damage. These symptoms can occur after only brief exposures to almost any chemical. Thus, regular employment is generally out of the question.

Multiple surveys indicate that 25 percent to 33 percent of the population has MCS, but those with chronic symptoms are a subset of this, with estimates varying between 4 percent and 15 percent. …

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