Daniel D. Worley (email@example.com)
Fri, 20 Feb 1998 08:43:48 -0400
>Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 15:48:03 -0500
>From: Richard Wolfson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Subject: chemical sensitivity
>Here is an excellent article on chemical sensitivity.
>As chemical sensitivity relates to food allergies and food sensitivity,
>which we can expect to rise sharply with genetically engineered foods, I
>thought you might find the article very relevant.
>=======================Electronic Edition======================== . .
>. RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH WEEKLY #585 .
>. ---February 12, 1998--- .
>. HEADLINES: .
>. A NEW MECHANISM OF DISEASE? .
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>A NEW MECHANISM OF DISEASE?
>Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is an ailment, or a family of ailments,
>that has very real consequences for tens of millions of Americans.
>In various large surveys 15% to 30% of Americans (37 to 75 million people)
>report that they are unusually sensitive or allergic to certain common
>chemicals such as detergents, perfumes, solvents, pesticides,
>pharmaceuticals, foods, or even the smell of dry-cleaned clothes. An
>estimated 5% (13 million people) have been diagnosed by a physician as
>being especially sensitive. Many of these people react so strongly that
>they can become disabled from very low exposures to common
>substances.[1,pgs.232-233] Typical symptoms include prolonged fatigue,
>memory difficulties, dizziness, lightheadedness, difficulty concentrating,
>depression, feeling spacey or groggy, loss of motivation, feeling tense or
>nervous, shortness of breath, irritability, muscle aches, joint pain,
>headaches, head fullness or pressure, chest pains, difficulty focusing
>eyes, nausea, and more. This group of symptoms is known as environmental
>illness or, more commonly, multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), meaning
>"sensitivity to many chemicals."
>MCS has been recognized by its symptoms for 50 years because MCS sufferers
>in many geographical areas, researchers studying them, and doctors treating
>them, have reported a remarkably consistent picture of disease. However,
>because MCS sufferers react to chemicals at levels that are hundreds or
>thousands of times lower than allowable occupational exposures, traditional
>toxicology dictates that their symptoms cannot be caused by chemical
>exposures. Nor is MCS a true allergy because there are no IgE-mediated
>reactions involved, so allergists don't know what to make of it.
>In sum, because MCS does not fit any of the three currently-accepted
>mechanisms of disease --infectious, immune system, or cancer --traditional
>medicine has not known how to explain MCS, and so has often labeled it
>"psychogenic" --originating in the patient's mind. This has left MCS
>sufferers in limbo. Told they are crazy, or imagining their disease, or
>making it up, they find themselves passed from physician to physician
>without any satisfactory answers and often without relief from their very
>real distress. (Some MCS sufferers DO have psychological symptoms, but that
>doesn't necessarily mean their disease ORIGINATES in their mind.) Forty
>percent of MCS sufferers report having seen more than 10 medical
>MCS came to the attention of mainstream science and medicine forcibly in
>1987 when U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) installed 27,000
>square yards of new carpeting and painted and remodeled office space at its
>Waterside Mall headquarters in Washington, D.C. Some 200 agency employees
>developed symptoms associated with "sick building
>syndrome"[1,pgs.174,76-77] --and several dozen EPA employees later reported
>developing MCS. The National Research Council has now accepted that "sick
>building syndrome" is a real phenomenon, producing MCS-like symptoms.
>Most recently, MCS has been in the news because there are two new, large
>populations of people who exhibit some or all of the symptoms of MCS: Gulf
>War veterans, and women with silicone breast implants.
>Since 1990, progress has been made defining and understanding MCS, though
>there is still a long way to go. Nevertheless, real progress has been made.
>A new book --a second, updated edition of CHEMICAL EXPOSURES; LOW LEVELS
>AND HIGH STAKES, by Nicholas A. Ashford and Claudia S. Miller --offers a
>lucid, thoughtful description of the current science and medicine of MCS,
>suggests a hypothesis (which could be tested) about the origins of the
>disease(es), and offers real hope to sufferers that one day their ailments
>will be understood and treated, possibly even prevented.
>The stakes are enormous, and the chemical industry knows it. If a
>clearly-defined disease emerges from research on MCS, with chemical causes
>that are understood, then it can't be too many decades before chemical
>corporations will have to face liability and compensation claims from
>millions of victims harmed by their products. Who knows where this might
>lead in the relationship between corporations and an angry public?
>Like the tobacco companies before them, the chemical corporations are bent
>on casting doubt on the serious medical research now being conducted to
>discover the causes and physiologic mechanisms of MCS. The chemical
>corporations have labeled such research "junk science," and they have
>funded a new research arm of their own (modeled on the Tobacco Research
>Institute?) called the Environmental Sensitivities Research Institute
>(ESRI). DowElanco, Monsanto, Procter and Gamble, the Cosmetic Toiletries
>and Fragrances Association, and other companies and trade associations
>involved in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and other
>chemicals, each pay $10,000 per year to keep ESRI going. The head of ESRI
>is Dr. Ronald Gots, who also runs something called the National Medical
>Advisory Group, which provides expert witnesses to defend the chemical
>corporations in tort lawsuits. Dr. Gots has published no original
>peer-reviewed research on MCS, yet he and ESRI specialize in claiming that
>MCS is a mental disorder. Dr. Gots says, "[E]verything that is known about
>MCS to date strongly suggests behavioral and psychogenic explanations for
>symptoms."[1,pg.280] In other words, if you exhibit some or all of the
>symptoms of MCS, you are probably crazy and if your doctor thinks
>otherwise, he or she is probably a charlatan. Such a claim has special
>staying power because it cannot be tested scientifically. As long as anyone
>is around to assert its validity, such a claim surrounds MCS research with
>an aura of controversy --and controversial topics have trouble attracting
>Here is a typical "advertorial" by ESRI from the February, 1996 issue of
>THE MERCHANDISER (Spring Grove, Pennsylvania):
>"Multiple Chemical Sensitivities: Fear of Risk or Fact of Life?
>"Scientists are increasingly concerned that a doubtful new
>diagnosis--supposedly caused by everything 'man-made' in the
>environment--is unnecessarily making thousands of Americans miserable each
>year. One of these so-called 'modern diseases' is called MCS, for Multiple
>Chemical Sensitivities. Many established scientists and physicians doubt
>MCS actually does exist; it exists only because a patient believes it does
>and because a doctor validates that belief. For information on MCS, write
>the Environmental Sensitivities Research Institute, 6001 Montrose Road,
>Suite 400, North Bethesda, MD 20852."
>The authors of the new book on MCS are highly qualified. Nicholas Ashford
>is professor of technology and policy at Massachusetts Institute of
>Technology (MIT) with advanced degrees in chemistry and law. Claudia Miller
>is a medical doctor with a masters degree in environmental health; she
>teaches at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.
>Their 1989 report on MCS, funded by the New Jersey Department of Health,
>won the prestigious Macedo award of the American Association for World
>Health. Their new book is a pleasure to read. It is clear, thoughtful,
>intelligent, and carefully written. It makes an important contribution to
>our understanding of chemical sensitivity.
>In reviewing several hundred studies --not all of them of good quality
>--Ashford and Miller describe the common themes that emerge from the good
>ones: MCS seems to be a disease (or family of diseases) that occurs in two
>stages. MCS is "initiated" by a high exposure (for example, a chemical
>fire, or spill) or by repeated moderate exposure to pesticides or solvents
>or some other strong chemical(s) such as those found in chemical dumps or
>used in remodeling homes or offices, including new carpeting. After the
>"initiating" exposure, symptoms are then "triggered" by extremely low
>exposure to many different chemicals, such as those found in fragrances, or
>tobacco smoke, pharmaceuticals, or foods. Not everyone exposed to chemicals
>gets MCS, just as not everyone stung by a bee goes into anaphylactic shock.
>A certain portion of the population seems predisposed to react strongly to
>chemicals after an initiating event.
>The mechanisms of MCS are not understood, but recent evidence suggests that
>the nervous system (or perhaps the nervous and immune systems together)
>somehow become sensitized by an initiating exposure. Thereafter, low
>exposures to common chemicals bring on major symptoms way out of proportion
>to the size of the stimulus.
>Ashford and Miller suggest that MCS is not really the best name for this
>ailment or family of ailments because it fails to reflect the importance of
>the initiating chemical exposure. They suggest that the name
>Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT) better describes the true nature
>of the illness(es) --initiated by a toxic exposure which leads to the loss
>of tolerance for common chemicals. They suggest that different initiating
>events may give rise to somewhat different ailments, all of which cause
>sensitivity to chemicals --just as different infectious diseases can all
>cause a fever.
>The scientific community has held several symposia on MCS (or TILT) since
>1990 and a scientific consensus has been reached on the double-blinded,
>placebo-controlled research that needs to be conducted to define this
>disease (or disease family).
>Despite this consensus, the research is not being conducted because the
>needed facilities do not exist. A special "environmental medical unit"
>needs to be built, preferably in a hospital, to test MCS patients by
>exposing them to chemicals under controlled conditions and observing their
>responses. Despite numerous recommendations that such a unit should be
>built --including a recommendation from the National Research Council --the
>funding is not there.
>Without naming him, authors Ashford and Miller blame Ronald Gots and others
>like him for the logjam: "...those who continue to promote untested and
>untestable psychogenic theories for MCS are part of the problem. Their
>lobbying of policymakers and others in this regard has contributed to
>widespread governmental inertia on this issue, making it near impossible to
>obtain funding for essential studies specifically directed toward MCS. Many
>of those who advocate psychological explanations in government-sponsored
>meetings and in the scientific literature are paid corporate spokespersons
>or consultants with financial conflicts of interest. Yet these conflicts
>generally are not revealed when these individuals appear in scientific
>meetings, author scientific articles, serve on official panels or boards,
>or serve as reviewers of grant proposals. Policymakers and publishers of
>scholarly journals need to recognize and remedy this appalling
>These are not academic questions. Seventy thousand Gulf War veterans,
>alone, have sought help. They are told they must prove their disease exists
>--but without research they have no proof. The same is true of tens of
>thousands of women whose breast implants have left them with many of the
>symptoms of MCS. (David Kessler, when he was head of the Food and Drug
>Administration (FDA) said, "We know more about the life of a tire than a
>breast implant.") These and millions of other people are genuinely
>suffering, yet they are told --with no research basis --that there is
>nothing medically wrong with them--it's all in their minds. Only research
>can find the truth.
>Quite possibly, MCS or TILT is a new, fourth disease mechanism parallel to
>infections, immune disorders, and cancer. Those suffering its symptoms
>cannot gain relief from their torment until the needed research is done.
>Those who are being paid by chemical corporations to stand in the way of
>that research deserve the labels inhuman and inhumane. Would criminal be
>too strong a word?
>(National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981/AFL-CIO)
> Nicholas A. Ashford and Claudia S. Miller, CHEMICAL EXPOSURES; LOW
>LEVELS AND HIGH STAKES. Second Edition. (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold,
>1998). ISBN 0-442-02524-6.
>Descriptor terms: mcs; multiple chemical sensitivity; environmental
>illness; allergies; nicholas ashford; claudia miller; low levels and high
>stakes; tobacco strategy; junk science; monsanto; dowelanco; procter and
>gamble; cosmetics, toiletries and fragrances association; ronald gots;
>esri; national medical advisory group; pharmaceuticals; pesticides; fires;
>environmental sensitivities research institute; solvents; nervous system;
>immune system; toxicant-induced loss of tilerance; tilt; environmental
>medical unit; research agendas; emu; gulf war syndrome; silicone breast
>implants; breast implants; disease mechanisms;
>Environmental Research Foundation provides this electronic version of
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>--Peter Montague, Editor
>Richard Wolfson, PhD
>Consumer Right to Know Campaign,
>for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term
>Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods,
>500 Wilbrod Street
>Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2
>Our website, http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/geindex.html
>contains more information on genetic engineering as well as
>previous genetic engineering news items
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