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Chemical Sensitivity Being Recognized As Illness Around the World





MCS America

Lourdes Salvador's Column

...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.








Lourdes Salvador is the founder of MCS America, a science writer, and a social advocate for the greater awareness of environmental contamination, human toxicology, and propagation of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) as a disorder of organic biological origin induced by toxic environmental insults.

For more information visit MCS America




Monday, November 15th, 2010:


Chemical Sensitivity Being Recognized As Illness Around the World

by Lourdes Salvador

A growing number of governments, organizations, and authorities are recognizing multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) as an illness induced by toxic substances.

MCS is an acquired illness that begins with a chemical poisoning event, either from an acute exposure or long-term chronic exposure to a toxic substance. Once the initial poisoning occurs, the condition is triggered by low-level exposure to airborne agents and other toxic substances such as perfumes, fragranced products, cleansers, pesticides, mold, solvents, and new building materials.

The Unites States Environmental Protection Agency defines MCS as "a diagnostic label for people who suffer multi-system illnesses as a result of contact with, or proximity to, a variety of airborne agents and other substances."

MCS often becomes disabling because the triggering chemicals are pervasive in the everyday environment. Various governments, organizations, and authorities have recognized the serious nature of MCS and put forth the following statements.

American Lung Association

American Medical Association

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Indoor Air Pollution: An Introduction for Health Professionals (1994)

"The current consensus is that in cases of claimed or suspected MCS, complaints should not be dismissed as psychogenic, and a thorough workup is essential. Primary care givers should determine that the individual does not have an underlying physiological problem and should consider the value of consultation with allergists and other specialists." (page 20)

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

MCS Disorder and Environmental Illness as Handicaps (1992)

"The General Counsel has accepted the attached memorandums the Department's position on the issue of when Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Disorder (MCS) and Environmental Illness (EI) are "handicaps" within the meaning of subsection 802 (h) of the Fair Housing Act (the "Act"), 42 U.S. C. 3602(h), and the Department's implementing regulation, 24 C.F.R. 100.201 (1991).  In sum, MCS and EI can be associated with physical impairments which substantially impair one or more of a person's major life activities.  Thus, individuals disabled by MCS and EI can be handicapped within the meaning of the Act.  However, while MCS or EI can be handicaps under the Act, ordinary allergies generally would not be."

U.S. Department of Education

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Policy and Resources (2001)

"MCS Is Now Recognized as a Disability.  Both the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) have recognized MCS as a disabling condition. People with MCS have won several Workers Compensation cases. A recent human rights lawsuit in Pennsylvania established the right of an affected person to safe living space in subsidized housing. Both the Maryland State Legislature and New Jersey State Department of Health have commissioned studies of MCS. The NJ study provides an excellent overview of medical and legal issues related to MCS."

Social Security

DI 24515.064 Evaluation Of Specific Issues — Environmental Illness (1996)!opendocument

"In claims alleging disability due to environmental illness, it is often difficult to identify abnormal signs and laboratory findings which can be associated with the alleged symptoms. Therefore, in evaluating claims based on environmental illness, all of the claimant's symptoms, signs, and laboratory findings must be considered to determine if there is a medically determinable impairment and the impact of any impairment on the claimant's ability to work. This evaluation should be made on an individual case-by-case basis to determine if the impairment prevents substantial gainful activity."

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

Indoor Environmental Quality Policy

"Fragrance is not appropriate for a professional work environment, and the use of some products with fragrance may be detrimental to the health of workers with chemical sensitivities, allergies, asthma, and chronic headaches/migraines." (page 9)

The United States Access Board

Board Policy to Promote Fragrance-Free Environments

"There is a growing number of people who suffer more severe reactions to these and many other types of products and chemicals. This condition is known as multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) and involves people who have developed an acute sensitivity to various chemicals in the environment. People with MCS experience a range of debilitating physical reactions, some even life-threatening, to chemicals used in a variety of products, including fragrances and personal care products, deodorizers and cleaners, pesticides, wall and floor coverings, and building materials.  It´s a complex issue with a variety of triggering agents and physical reactions. Different people are affected by different products in different ways. The common factor is that the reaction, whatever the type, is very strong and disabling. Information needs to be developed on exactly what brings about such an acute sensitivity to certain chemicals, how and why this happens, and what can be done about it."

Canadian Government

Canadian Human Right Commission

"Individuals with environmental sensitivities experience a variety of adverse reactions to environmental agents at concentrations well below those that might affect the "average person". This medical condition is a disability and those living with environmental sensitivities are entitled to the protection of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability."

The German Institute of Medicine

MCS, CFS, FMS: coding according to ICD-10-GM (2008)

MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) is classified under:

T78.4 ... Allergy, not otherwise specified;

Chapter 19 (injuries, poisoning and certain other consequences of toxic causes),

Section T66-T78 (Other and unspecified effects of external causes)

Austria Federal Ministry of Health

MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) is classified under:

T78.4 ... Allergy, not otherwise specified;

Chapter 19 (injuries, poisoning and certain other consequences of toxic causes),

Section T66-T78 (Other and unspecified effects of external causes)

Japanese Ministry of Health

ICD10 codes: T65.9 poisoning and other unspecified substances, toxic substances, unspecified

MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) is classified under:

T659 … Toxic effect of unspecified substance

T659 QV58... chemical sensitivity

Government of South Australia

Disability Access Checklist Guide for Government Owned & Leased Premises (2006)

For a continuously updated list of governments and authorities recognizing MCS, visit the following website:

Governments and Organizations Recognizing Chemical Sensitivity







For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.


Copyrighted 2010 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America



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