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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 351457, 13 pages
Review Article

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and the Workplace: Current Position and Need for an Occupational Health Surveillance Protocol

INAIL Research, Department of Occupational Medicine, Via Alessandria 220/E, 00198 Rome, Italy

Received 1 March 2013; Accepted 28 May 2013

Academic Editor: Daniela Caccamo

Copyright © 2013 A. Martini et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Multiple chemical sensitivity, commonly known as environmental illness, is a chronic disease in which exposure to low levels of chemicals causes correlated symptoms of varying intensity. With the continuous introduction of new substances, people with MCS suffer significant limitations to their living environment and frequently to their workplace. This paper describes the current situation as regards MCS and the critical points in its case definition, which is still not generally agreed upon; this makes it difficult to recognize with certainty, especially, its precise relationship with work. Other problems arise in relation to the occupational physician’s role in diagnosing and managing the worker with the disorder, the question of low levels of exposure to chemicals, and the best measures possible to prevent it. A diagnostic “route” is proposed, useful as a reference for the occupational physician who is often called in first to identify cases suspected of having this disease and to manage MCS workers. Work-related problems for people with MCS depend not only on occupational exposure but also on the incompatibility between their illness and their work. More occupational physicians need to be “sensitive” to MCS, so that these workers are recognized promptly, the work is adapted as necessary, and preventive measures are promoted in the workplace.