A controlled comparison of symptoms and chemical intolerances reported by Gulf War veterans, implant recipients and persons with multiple chemical sensitivity

Claudia S. Miller, Thomas J. Prihoda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

66 Scopus citations


Using the Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (EESI), a standardized instrument for measuring chemical sensitivity, weobtained and compared ratings of symptoms, chemical (inhalant) intolerances, other intolerances (e.g., drugs, caffeine, alcohol, skin contactants), lifeimpact, and masking (ongoing exposures) in five populations: multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) patients who did (n=96) or did not (n=90) attribute onset of their illness to a specific exposure event, patients with implanted devices (n=87), Gulf War veterans (n=72), and controls (n=76). For each patient group, mean scores on the first four scales were significantly greater than for controls. MCS patients reported avoiding more chemical exposures (were less masked) than the other groups. Across groups, for a given level of symptoms, as masking increased, mean scores on the Chemical Intolerance Scale decreased. In contrast, mean scores on the Other Intolerance Scale appeared to be less affected by masking. These findings suggest that some patients with antecedent chemical exposures, whether exogenous (chemical spill, pesticide application, indoor air contaminants) or endogenous (implant), develop new chemical, food, and drug intolerances. Reports of new caffeine, alcohol, medication, food, or other intolerances by patients may signal exposure-related illness. Masking may reduce individuals' awareness of chemical intolerances, and, to a lesser degree, other intolerances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)386-397
Number of pages12
JournalToxicology and Industrial Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1999



  • Gulf War veterans
  • chemical sensitivity
  • environmental exposures
  • environmental illness
  • implant
  • multiple chemical sensitivity
  • pesticide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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