A Report on Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)

The Interagency Workgroup on
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

August 24, 1998

Predecisional Draft

Table of Contents


Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is the term most commonly applied to a condition that challenges patients, health-care providers, and health and environmental agencies alike. Persons reported as suffering from MCS present with outcomes that range from minor discomfort to severe disability. However, many scientists and medical specialists continue to debate the validity of MCS as a distinct disease entity.

In 1995, because of concern for the health and well-being of persons with symptoms of MCS and because MCS presents challenging policy issues, several Federal agencies that conduct or sponsor environmental programs formed the Interagency Workgroup on Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (referred to as "the workgroup" in this report). The workgroup reviewed relevant scientific literature, considered recommendations previously issued by various expert panels, reviewed current and past federal actions, and developed technical and policy recommendations concerning MCS.

This report was prepared by the workgroup's members and staff listed in Sections XIII and XIV. The draft was reviewed by 12 experts in occupational and/or environmental medicine, toxicology, immunology, psychology, psychiatry, and physiology. The subsequent revision was made available as a draft report for the public's review and comment.

The workgroup considers policy makers and researchers at agencies concerned with MCS to be the primary audience for this report. It is not intended to provide guidelines for individual clinical management of those with symptoms of MCS, nor is it intended to evaluate existing diagnostic and treatment methods. Rather, it provides a public health evaluation of the extent and nature of this complex problem and recommends future actions for Federal agencies to consider.

The Federal departments and agencies represented on the workgroup included the Department of Defense, Department of Energy,  Department of Health and Human Services (i.e., Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, National Center for Environmental Health, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences),  Department of Veterans Affairs, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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