Chemical Sensitivities

Chemical Sensitivities

Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) can be totally debilitating. What makes matters worse, these chemical intolerances are poorly understood by the medical community. Your symptoms may be occurring at very low concentrations, even below the sensitivity of our instruments and sampling methods. Call us at (312) 920-9393 to discuss if an indoor environmental assessment is appropriate for your chemical sensitivities.

What are chemical sensitivities?

It is easier to explain what they are not. Multiple chemical sensitivity is different than allergy (e.g. pollen, pets and dust mites). To distinguish them from allergy, some respected doctors prefer the term “chemical intolerance”. Dr. Claudia Miller uses the terminology “Toxicant Induced Loss of Tolerance” or TILT for short.

What can Indoor Science do?

We can perform a thorough indoor environmental assessment to look for common indoor air quality problems. It’s best to start with the “low hanging fruit”. We want to make sure there are no problems with combustion appliances, dampness, ventilation, or other common issues.

Once those items are identified and resolved, the natural impulse is to collect air samples for volatile organic compounds and see if any chemicals are in high concentrations. The problem with this approach is that an extremely low concentration may be triggering the reactions. The offending chemical may only be found in trace concentrations.

Another approach is to use the sensitive individual as a “detector”. This should only be done once the individual has been “unmasked”. When someone is living in an environment with the offending chemical, their body will be masked. Dr. Claudia Miller defines masking as follows:

Masking results from the multiple overlapping reactions that occur to many different chemicals, foods and drugs (including alcoholic and caffeinated beverages that were formerly tolerated) and normal habituation associated with chronic exposures. Once an individual’s reactions have spread to many diverse exposures and that person is masked, it is difficult to identify specific food or environmental triggers.


Masking hides the relationship between exposures and triggers. We will work to get you unmasked and slowly re-expose you to potential triggers one by one. This can be a long process, but the goal is to identify specific chemicals for which you have built up an intolerance.

To get started, call our office at (312) 920-9393 to discuss your concerns.

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