MCS/ES Symptoms

MCS/ES and EHS symptom lists resemble several other symptom lists.

There are many symptoms. Not all are immediate. Some can be delayed.

MCS Definition Criteria 1999

1999 Consensus Definition Criteria:

1. MCS is a chronic condition.
2. Symptoms recur reproducibly.
3. Symptoms recur in response to low levels of chemical exposure.
4. Symptoms occur when exposed to multiple unrelated chemicals.
5. Symptoms improve or resolve when trigger chemicals (incitants) are removed.
6. Multiple organ systems are affected.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: a 1999 Consensus.
Archives of Environmental Health. 54: No 3, May/June 1999; 147-149.

EHS symptoms WEEPEHS symptom chart from WEEP

MCS ES symptoms include:

From Table 7: Environmental sensitivity symptoms/reactions
Sears,  Medical Perspectives

Nervous system

Heightened sense of smell
Difficulty concentrating
Difficulty remembering
Apparent variability in mental processes
Feeling dull or groggy
Feeling “spacey”
Restlessness, hyperactivity, agitation, insomnia
Lack of coordination or balance

Upper respiratory system

Stuffy nose, itchy nose (the “allergic salute”)
Blocked ears
Sinus stuffiness, pain, infections

Lower respiratory system

Wheezing, shortness of breath, heavy chest
Frequent bronchitis or pneumonia


Red, watery eyes
Dark circles under eyes
Pain in eyes
Blurred, disturbed vision

Gastrointestinal system

Abdominal pain

Endocrine system

Fatigue, lethargy
Blood sugar fluctuations

Musculoskeletal system

Joint and muscle pain in the extremities and/or back
Muscle twitching or spasms
Muscle weakness

Cardiovascular system

Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Cold extremities
High or low blood pressure

Skin (dermatological system)

Flushing (whole body, or isolated, such as ears, nose or cheeks)
Other rashes

Genitourinary system

Frequency and urgency to urinate
Painful bladder spasms


Severe MCS/ES… What Does It Mean?

Categorical guidelines for levels of disability

Able to work.
Frequently has many symptoms, some of vague nature.
May find petrochemicals and other environmental exposures such as auto exhausts cigarette smoke, and cleaning materials to be unpleasant or produce uncomfortable feelings, but able to work effectively.

Able to work at home or with controlled environment at work place.
May have to use gas mask or charcoal mask and air purifier filter system.
Exposure to inciting agents causes acute symptoms which may alter functional capacity (severe headache, muscle pain, poor concentration, memory loss, etc.).
May have to change job or work conditions if environmental pollution is severe enough.

Unable to work effectively, even with environmental control, using avoidance, masks or filters.
On some days, may be able to work 30 to 60 minute shifts several times a day if in a very controlled environment. Reacts to chemicals such as insecticide, phenols, chlorine, formaldehyde, perfume, petro-chemicals, etc.
Has severe mental and physical symptoms which may or may not clear.
Public exposures such as church, post office, movie or shopping are not tolerated.
Visitors to home must clean up significantly.
Can usually care for self in a home situation.
May be able to drive if automobile made free of inciting agents, sealed, and has charcoal air filters.
Has difficulty with other family members or guests in home who bring in aggravating exposures on clothing, printed material, hair, etc.
Adversely reacts to many medications.
May have to move if existing home has uncontrollable outdoor pollution, is new and has not outgassed, or has other significant problems of mold, flooring, or other incitants.
Requires a clean room, carpet-free, cleared of inciting agents, special heating and air filtering.
Must wear natural fiber clothing specially laundered.

Requires assistance to function in rigidly controlled home environment.
Reactive symptoms have spread to virtually all environmental agents including chemicals, foods, pollens, and molds.
Has mental and physical symptoms that are incapacitating, although frequently not structurally described.
Total and very restrictive environmental control required in home and vehicle.
Cannot tolerate family or help who have outside exposures with even small contamination of clothing or hair with odors.
Visitors usually are too toxic to be tolerated indoors.
Usually requires several moves to different areas of the country to find tolerable climate which is also chemical free.
May require unusual and extensive measures to make a tolerable clean refuge area to sleep in.
Has difficulties with virtually everything in environment (universal reactor).

From “E.I. Disability Classification”, l987, The Human Ecologist, No. 35, P. 13. via “The Phenomenology of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity at Four Levels of Severity”, Pamela Reed Gibson, James Madison University

Sensitivity-related illness: the escalating pandemic of allergy, food intolerance and chemical sensitivity

by Stephen J. Genuis


The prevalence of allergic-related diseases, food intolerance, and chemical sensitivities in both the pediatric and adult population has increased dramatically over the last two decades, with escalating rates of associated morbidity.

Conditions of acquired allergy, food intolerance and chemical hypersensitivity are frequently the direct sequelae of a toxicant induced loss of tolerance (TILT) in response to a significant initiating toxic exposure.

Following the primary toxicant insult, the individuals become sensitive to low levels of diverse and unrelated triggers in their environment such as commonly encountered chemical, inhalant or food antigens.

Among sensitized individuals, exposure to assorted inciting stimuli may precipitate diverse clinical and/or immune sequelae as may be evidenced by clinical symptoms as well as varied lymphocyte, antibody, or cytokine responses in some cases.

Recently recognized as a mechanism of disease development, TILT and resultant sensitivity-related illness (SRI) may involve various organ systems and evoke wide-ranging physical or neuropsychological manifestations.

With escalating rates of toxicant exposure and bioaccumulation in the population-at-large, an increasing proportion of contemporary illness is the direct result of TILT and ensuing SRI.

Avoidance of triggers will preclude symptoms, and desensitization immunotherapy or immune suppression may ameliorate symptomatology in some cases.

Resolution of SRI generally occurs on a gradual basis following the elimination of bioaccumulated toxicity and avoidance of further initiating adverse environmental exposures.

As has usually been the case throughout medical history whenever new evidence regarding disease mechanisms emerges, resistance to the translation of knowledge abounds.

symptoms 2

From the College of Family Physicians of Canada:

Pandemic of idiopathic multimorbidity
by Stephen J. Genuis

“Despite the entertaining educational soiree with my colleagues, I wondered whether industry-sponsored medical education was the best means to keep physicians apprised of emerging scientific information.

If this approach to knowledge translation and the historical pendulum from research to clinical practice continue, we can expect it will take the usual 1 to 2 generations before health practitioners are familiar with the documented pathophysiological mechanisms and restorative approach to many cases of multimorbidity.

If so, countless individuals with apparently inexplicable multisystem complaints will needlessly suffer and receive an incorrect label of being psychiatrically disordered.

By the end of the evening, 3 things were evident:

that the pandemic of idiopathic multimorbidity was real,

that health care costs were escalating,

and that the share price of antidepressant manufacturers would likely continue north for years to come.”

Why (else) is this taking so long?

Big News for Ontario (2014)

“The province is providing nearly $560,000 to support two new annual fellowships over three years for a total of six new fellowships. They will allow family medicine graduates to complete an extra year of focused training in environmental health, and will help primary care providers like family doctors offer the right care to assess, diagnose and treat environmentally-linked health issues.”

That’s a handful of graduates in Ontario equipped to serve the already approximately  570,000  people diagnosed (mostly) at a clinic almost nobody knows about, but that has a perpetual 6-18 month wait list. What about all the people who have no idea (including their doctors)?

More here: Statistics, MCS/ES, and Wireless

You can compare symptom lists  for Alzheimer’s, Brain Injury, Chemo Brain, EHS (Electrohypersensitivity), Food Allergies and Sensitivities, Fibromyalgia, Inhalant Abuse, Mold Illness, MCS/ES (multiple chemical sensitivities / environmental sensitivities), MS (Multiple Sclerosis), Neurotoxicity, Pesticide Poisoning, Poisoning, and Stroke in the SYMPTOM LISTS tab at the top of the blog.

I had thought of posting the symptom lists without saying which list was for what condition, and then have you all guess what was what, but I gave them to you straight. I don’t have the technology or brain to create that interactive game.

Once we recognize that the symptoms we are experiencing could be caused by petrochemicals and or wireless radiation, the fun of trying to eliminate and avoid exposures  begins. In today’s world, where the toxic economy is more important than life itself, this will be challenging. Exposures are everywhere now.

We have to become a detective,  an advocate for ourselves, and for the environment, ask service providers and employers for accommodations, ask people (who don’t like to change) to do things differently, go to a lot of time, trouble, and expense looking for products that don’t trigger our symptoms, possibly have to get rid of furniture and clothing, move house (maybe a few times), watch our friends and family abandon us, and experience many other previously unimaginable things,  just so that we can get ourselves from the beginning to the end of our now totally changed days.

But, we’re in good company. Pretty soon no-one will be unscathed.

Change is coming!

Working together to clean up our environments and lives will get us there faster!

9 responses to “MCS/ES Symptoms

  1. Thank you for posting this, I certainly suffer from various symptoms that you have mentioned.

    • Have you been able to eliminate common sources of exposures to determine which things are causing the symptoms?

      I was able to narrow most of mine down to the point of finding out that my fibromyalgia flares were due to certain types of chemical exposures, even at trace levels (as in clothing). Others were from furniture or from airborne chemicals. Fragrance contaminated food was another huge source of problems.

  2. Early diagnosis is so important with MCS/ES too, as avoiding the triggers can help us heal, and not avoiding them can cause damage that is very difficult if not impossible to heal from

    The importance of early and accurate diagnosis | helpful hints for healthcare professionals that could improve prognosis May 2016

  3. Some resources for your doctors:

    From the Ontario College of Family Physicians

    Environmental Health Publications and Tools

    Taking An Exposure History 2015
    These sheets are designed as tools for taking patients history with respect to exposure to environmental contaminants. Dr. Lynn Marshall


    Case Criteria Checklists (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity)


    From Dr Claudia Miller:

    The Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (QEESI)
    A screening tool for multiple chemical intolerance. Coupled with an exposure history, it is useful in diagnosing TILT (Toxicant-induced Loss of Tolerance).

  4. Good news for people in Ontario!
    The Task Force for the OCEEH is finally happening!

  5. Pingback: CBC News Hi-lights Accessibility Barriers to Housing for People With MCS/ES | Seriously "Sensitive" to Pollution

  6. Environment-Linked Illnesses: Chronic Pain,
    Fatigue and Chemical Intolerance Linked to Environment Exposures
    As much as I know this… finally see it in black and white.

    What symptoms are worse depends on the day … I found this and it may not be new to any of you but it was to me. What is new is the fact there is training for doctors there is no reason for them not to know about mcs…chronic pain associated with mcs should not be a surprise to doctors at this point… yet it still seems chemical causes of pain is still not believed.

    The Environmental Health Committee: The CME modules developed under this Committee’s
    guidance have recently been re-accredited. One module: Environment-Linked Illnesses: Chronic Pain,
    Fatigue and Chemical Intolerance Linked to Environment Exposures — Office Assessment and
    The Year in Review 2013-14 8
    Management was offered this at this year’s Family Medicine Forum in Quebec City and will be
    delivered at our own ASA. The Committee has also initiated an “Environmental Health Update” which
    is available on the OCFP website.
    I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our Committee members who play such an important role in
    ensuring the OCFP is relevant and useful to our members. On behalf of the Board, I would like to say a special
    thank you to the ASA Chairs Drs. Deborah Smith and Kim Bender for their focus on creating such an exceptional
    education program again at this year’s ASA.
    Building a Stronger Organization
    The Board of Directors continues to be very pleased with CEO Jessica may not be new to any of you but it was to me.

    Click to access year-in-review-2013-2014_final.pdf

    • Training IS available. The clinic in Toronto (and associates) offer it, but as Dr Molot said in his May 12th video from EHAQ this year, because there’s so little understanding about it, no-one is interested. It really should be a part of their regular curriculum, not an elective add-on, especially when they do some research and see the stigma and BS some of the doctors have been put through.

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