Purpose: Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is a clinical syndrome representing multi-organ and psychological symptoms caused by chronic exposure to various chemicals in low concentrations. We evaluated the prevalence and related factors of MCS targeting Korean adults using the Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (QEESI©). Methods: A total of 446 participants were recruited from Severance Hospital. Participants underwent a questionnaire interview including questions on sociodemographic factors, occupational and environmental factors, allergic diseases, and the QEESI©. Among them, 379 participants completed the questionnaire and the QEESI©. According to the QEESI© interpretation results, participants were divided into very suggestive (VS) group and less suggestive (LS) group. Results: The estimated prevalence of MCS was higher in allergic patients than non-allergic participants (19.7% and 11.3%, respectively, P=0.04). In the multivariate logistic regression analysis, ages of 30-39 (OR, 2.94; 95% CI, 1.25-6.95) and those of 40-49 (OR, 2.51; 95% CI, 1.02-6.21) were significantly related to MCS compared to those aged less than 30 years. Female sex (OR, 2.16; 95% CI, 1.11-4.18), experience of dwelling in a new house (OR, 2.05; 95% CI, 1.04-4.03), and atopic dermatitis (OR, 1.95; 95% CI, 1.04-3.69) were also significantly related to MCS. However, only age of 30-39 in the allergic group was significant in the stratified analysis. Conclusions: The estimated prevalence of MCS was higher among allergic patients than non-allergic participants. People with experience of dwelling in a new house and atopic dermatitis were more at risk of being intolerant to chemicals. Further studies to provide the nationally representative prevalence data and clarify risk factors and mechanisms of MCS are required.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine