Prevalence and effects of multiple chemical sensitivities in Australia.
Source TitlePreventive Medicine Reports
University of Melbourne Author/sSteinemann, Anne
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsSteinemann, A. (2018). Prevalence and effects of multiple chemical sensitivities in Australia.. Prev Med Rep, 10, pp.191-194. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2018.03.007.
Access StatusOpen Access
Open Access at PMChttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5984225
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.
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