Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Review

What is MCS?

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is a term that describes a condition in which affected individuals experience diverse (sometimes debilitating) symptoms associated with exposure to a variety of chemicals in the environment, often at very low levels.  The pathogenic mechanisms involved in MCS have not been established, and precise diagnostic methods and treatments have yet to be agreed by the medical profession. 

A consistent finding from a number of Australian and overseas studies has been the need for further research. Following public consultation, including with MCS interest groups in Australia, a review report entitled A Scientific Review of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: Identifying Key Research Needs was published in November 2010, which identified the following priorities:

Targeted research into the biological basis of the condition

Understanding the biological basis of MCS could lead to improved diagnosis and treatment - several biologically plausible hypotheses were found to be worthy of further investigation. 

Clinical research into diagnosis and treatment 

Criteria used in diagnosis and treatment of MCS are variable. The report identified benefit in:

  • standardising diagnostic criteria
  • determining the prevalence of medically diagnosed and self-reported cases
  • using challenge testing to explore initiation/triggering
  • investigating modes of action and determining effective treatment/management protocols.

Longitudinal study

A longitudinal clinical and sociological study could assist in understanding the natural history of people with MCS, and the impacts of different management strategies.


A clinical education program could be developed:

  • based on contemporary evidence
  • providing practical guidance on clinical management.
Back to top