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Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 1993 Aug;18(1):44-53.

Double-blind provocation chamber challenges in 20 patients presenting with "multiple chemical sensitivity".

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  • 1Allergy Respiratory Institute of Colorado, Denver 80222.


A clinical algorithm was used to discriminate verifiable chemical sensitivity from psychological disorders in patients referred for evaluation of polysomatic symptoms attributed to hypersensitivity to workplace and domestic chemicals. These patients believed that they were reactive or hypersensitive to low-level exposure to multiple chemicals. Some had previously been evaluated and managed by the tenets of "clinical ecology" and diagnosed as having "multiple chemical sensitivity." Double-blind provocation challenges with an olfactory masker were performed in an environmental chamber on each of 20 patients. A variety of chemicals was employed, one or more per subject, dependent on individual clinical history. Clean air challenges with the olfactory masker were used as placebo or sham controls. As a group, probability analyses of patient symptom reports from 145 chemical and clean air challenges failed to show sensitivity (33.3%), specificity (64.7%), or efficiency (52.4%). Individually, none of these patients demonstrated a reliable response pattern across a series of challenges. Implications for future research in assessment methodology incorporating neurophysiologic and neurobehavioral measures are discussed.

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