Sick Building Syndrome (Environmental Illness, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or MCS)

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Sick building syndrome facts

  • Sick building syndrome is believed by some to be an illness caused by unknown agents in buildings.
  • Sick building syndrome is a controversial subject because many experts do not think it is a true syndrome.
  • Sick building syndrome has no known cause.
  • For those who believe the syndrome is real, many risk factors are cited.
  • Many nonspecific symptoms cited for the syndrome fit no pattern.
  • There are no diagnostic tests for the syndrome.
  • There is no specific treatment for the syndrome.
  • Complications of the alleged syndrome range from increased symptoms to inability to tolerate being inside a certain building and the problems, many job related, that may occur.
  • The prognosis of an alleged syndrome is unclear, but symptomatic treatments may reduce problems and result in a fair to good prognosis.
  • Prevention is difficult in a syndrome without a known cause, no diagnostic tests, and no defined treatments, but the Environmental Protection Agency provides prevention methods to address known disease problems that can be diagnosed and are known to be related to air-moving systems and construction materials used in buildings.

What is sick building syndrome?

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Sick building syndrome (also termed environmental illness, multiple chemical sensitivity or MCS) is considered by some clinicians to be an illness in some people after they are exposed to as yet undefined chemical, biological, or physical agents that are thought to be found in building(s). The term was first used in 1986 and has been controversial ever since.

Why is sick building syndrome controversial?

Sick building syndrome is controversial. Although many people and some clinicians believe there is a disease "syndrome" related to buildings and their internal environment, many other clinicians and medical organizations say there is no convincing clinical evidence that such a medical syndrome exists. The controversy exists because a number of people have a constellation of nonspecific symptoms that have no proven etiology (cause), yet believe they occur from sources inside building(s). Medical organizations such as the American Medical Association (AMA) and many experts say without any defined symptoms and no convincing evidence of a given source or cause, no test to diagnose the syndrome, and no treatment for the syndrome, there is no such medical syndrome.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/25/2013

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