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Multiple Chemical Sensitivity


Overview :

Multiple chemical sensitivity typically begins with one high-dose exposure to a chemical, but it may also develop with long-term exposure to a low level of a chemical. Chemicals most often connected with MCS include: formaldehyde; pesticides; solvents; petrochemical fuels such as diesel, gasoline, and kerosene; waxes, detergents, and cleaning products; latex; tobacco smoke; perfumes and fragrances; and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. People who develop MCS are commonly exposed in one of the following situations: on the job as an industrial worker; residing or working in a poorly ventilated building; or living in conditions of high air or water pollution. Others may be exposed in unique incidents.

Because MCS is difficult to diagnose, estimates vary as to what percentage of the population develops MCS. However, most MCS patients are female. The median age of MCS patients is 40 years old, and most experienced symptoms before they were 30 years old. There is also a large percentage of Persian Gulf War veterans who have reported symptoms of chemical sensitivity since their return from the Gulf in the early 1990s.




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