An interesting study about frequency of chemical sensitivities in the general population. The study, conducted by Prof. Anne Steinemann (at the Univ. of Melbourne) is observational, and based on self-reports by 1137 people. But it's amazing that so many people (1 in 4 Americans in the study or 25.9%) report some chemical sensitivities, and also that 12.8% report that they have medically diagnosed Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS).
But it makes sense when you think about all the chemicals we are bombarded with daily, many with known negative health effects. Perhaps you have a physical reaction or feel allergic to certain products - such as household cleaning products, paints, perfumes, insect spray, or other scented products? That could be a chemical sensitivity.
People especially reported health problems from scented consumer products (with added fragrances), such as air fresheners, scented laundry products, cleaning supplies, scented candles, perfume, and personal care products. Yes - those are products to avoid for many reasons, but especially health reasons (see here, here, and here). Not only do we breathe in the chemicals, but our skin absorbs them! They are indoor air pollutants (some are endocrine disruptors, some are carcinogenic), and should be avoided. [See here for in-depth discussion.]
Instead, buy unscented products, and totally avoid some unnecessary products such as air fresheners and dryer sheets (it's advertising that says they're needed, but they're really not). From Science Daily:
University of Melbourne research reveals that one in four Americans report chemical sensitivity, with nearly half this group medically diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), suffering health problems from exposure to common chemical products and pollutants such as insect spray, paint, cleaning supplies, fragrances and petrochemical fumes.
The research was conducted by Anne Steinemann, Professor of Civil Engineering and Chair of Sustainable Cities from the University of Melbourne School of Engineering .... Professor Steinemann found the prevalence of chemical sensitivity has increased more than 200 per cent and diagnosed MCS has increased more than 300 per cent among American adults in the past decade. Across America, an estimated 55 million adults have chemical sensitivity or MCS.
The study used an online survey with a national random sample of 1,137 people, representative of age, gender and region, from a large web-based panel held by Survey Sampling International (SSI).
The study found that, when exposed to problematic sources, people with MCS experience a range of adverse health effects, from migraines and dizziness to breathing difficulties and heart problems. For 76 per cent of people, the severity of effects can be disabling. "People with MCS are like human canaries. They react earlier and more severely to chemical pollutants, even at low levels," Professor Steinemann said.
The study also found that 71 per cent of people with MCS are asthmatic, and 86.2 per cent with MCS report health problems from fragranced consumer products, such as air fresheners, scented laundry products, cleaning supplies, fragranced candles, perfume and personal care products.