Diagnosis of environmental sensitivities
Environmental sensitivities are a range of reactions to environmental factors including chemicals, foods, biological agents and electromagnetic radiation, at levels of exposure tolerated by many people. It encompasses a range of overlapping chronic conditions such as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and Electromagnetic Sensitivity.
Environmental sensitivities frequently contribute to illnesses such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) and Fibromyalgia (FM).
In 1999, group of physicians and researchers published the criteria for diagnosis of MCS. Case Criteria - 1999 Consensus on Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)
• Symptoms are reproducible.
• The condition is chronic.
• Low levels of exposure (lower than previously or commonly
tolerated) result in symptoms.
• Symptoms improve or resolve when incitants are removed
• Responses occur to multiple chemically unrelated substances.
• Symptoms involve multiple organ Systems.
Reference: 1999 Consensus on Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. Archives of Environmental Health, May/June 1999, Vol. 54, No. 3, based on: J. R. Nethercott, L. L. Davidoff, B. Curbow. “Multiple Chemical Sensitivities Syndrome: Toward a Working Case Definition.” Arch Environ Health, 1993; 48:19–26.
Read more about the 1999 consensus ->
These diagnostic criteria were then validated by University of Toronto researchers, who also determined additional symptoms common in people with MCS.
• Having a stronger sense of smell than others.
• Difficulty concentrating.
• Feeling dull or groggy.
• Feeling spacey.
Reference: McKeown-Eyssen, G. E., C. J. Baines, L. M. Marshall, et al. “Multiple Chemical Sensitivity:
Discriminant Validity of Case Definitions.” Arch Environ Health, 2001; 56(5):406–12
Diagnostic Checklists –Ontario College of Family Physicians website www.ocfp.ca (go to Environmental Health Committee and scroll down (http://www.ocfp.on.ca/committees/env-health))
Also noted commonly in the international medical literature:
• Onset of ES most commonly reported after acute exposure to pesticides, solvents
• Pain and fatigue may be severely disabling
• If exposures are constant, sensitivities may be “masked” and not recognized until…
The Tipping Point
Cumulative contamination leads to tipping points. For example:
• we are surpassing the environmental tipping point with climate change
• human body burden and cellular/organ injuries build up over time
Multiple exposures can cause multiple effects, but until overloaded, a person may not feel ill
Sensitivities to various substances are individual, but may “spread” to more types of exposures.