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J Occup Environ Med. 2018 Mar;60(3):e152-e156. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001272.

National Prevalence and Effects of Multiple Chemical Sensitivities.

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Department of Infrastructure Engineering, Melbourne School of Engineering, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia; and Climate, Atmospheric Sciences, and Physical Oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California.



The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS), its co-occurrence with asthma and fragrance sensitivity, and effects from exposure to fragranced consumer products.


A nationally representative cross-sectional population-based sample of adult Americans (nā€Š=ā€Š1137) was surveyed in June 2016.


Among the population, 12.8% report medically diagnosed MCS and 25.9% report chemical sensitivity. Of those with MCS, 86.2% experience health problems, such as migraine headaches, when exposed to fragranced consumer products; 71.0% are asthmatic; 70.3% cannot access places that use fragranced products such as air fresheners; and 60.7% lost workdays or a job in the past year due to fragranced products in the workplace.


Prevalence of diagnosed MCS has increased over 300%, and self-reported chemical sensitivity over 200%, in the past decade. Reducing exposure to fragranced products could help reduce adverse health and societal effects.

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