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

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

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, especially the indoor air quality, 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.

What types of specialists treat sick building syndrome?

Usually, if there is a problem with a building in which patients are becoming ill, the problems can be first referred to individuals in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or in some problems like Legionnaires' disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Primary-care physicians and pediatricians usually treat symptoms that are attributed to the air quality in buildings, but other specialists may become involved. For example, allergists, immunologists, specialized building inspectors, and others may be called in to help determine the cause of the problems and ways to solve them.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/8/2016

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors