Prevalence and effects of multiple chemical sensitivities in Australia

Steinemann, Anne (2018) Prevalence and effects of multiple chemical sensitivities in Australia. Preventive Medicine Reports, 10. pp. 191-194.

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Multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) is a medical condition associated with exposure to common chemical pollutants. The aims of this study are to assess the prevalence of MCS, its overlaps with asthma and fragrance sensitivity, and its health and societal effects in Australia. Data were collected in June 2016 using an on-line survey with a representative national sample (N = 1098) of adults (ages 18–65) in Australia. Results found that, across the country, 6.5% report medically diagnosed MCS, 18.9% report chemical sensitivity (being unusually sensitive to everyday chemicals and chemically formulated products), and 19.9% either or both. Among people with MCS, 74.6% also have diagnosed asthma or an asthma-like condition, and 91.5% have fragrance sensitivity, reporting health problems (such as migraine headaches) when exposed to fragranced consumer products (such as air fresheners and cleaning supplies). In addition, among people with MCS, 77.5% are prevented from access to places because of fragranced products, 52.1% lost workdays or a job in the past year due to fragranced product exposure in the workplace, and 55.4% report health effects considered potentially disabling. Results indicate that MCS is a widespread disease, affecting an estimated 1 million adult Australians, with chemical sensitivity affecting another 2 million. Reducing chemical exposure to problematic sources, such as fragranced consumer products, is critical to reduce adverse effects.

Item ID: 58672
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2211-3355
Keywords: Asthma, Chemical sensitivity, Fragrance sensitivity, Fragranced consumer products, MCS, Multiple chemical sensitivities
Copyright Information: Copyright 2018 The Author. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2019 01:40
FoR Codes: 35 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 3505 Human resources and industrial relations > 350505 Occupational and workplace health and safety @ 50%
40 ENGINEERING > 4011 Environmental engineering > 401199 Environmental engineering not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920405 Environmental Health @ 100%
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