Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) is a highly controversial issue. In theory, MCS is an adverse physical reaction to low levels of many common chemicals. Chemical sensitivity is generally accepted as a reaction to chemicals but debate continues as to whether MCS is classifiable as an illness. There are a number of synonyms for MCS, including 20th century disease, environmental illness, total allergy syndrome, idiopathic environmental illness, and chemical AIDS.
Proposed theories to explain the cause of MCS include allergy, dysfunction of the immune system, neurobiological sensitization, and various psychological theories. There is insufficient scientific evidence to confirm a relationship between any of these possible causes and symptoms. Due to the lack of definite information an evaluation must be performed by a physician knowledgeable of the symptoms of this condition.
Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces. The OSHA law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law (including the right to raise a health and safety concern or report an injury). For more information see www.whistleblowers.gov or worker rights.
OSHA can help answer questions or concerns from employers and workers. To reach your regional or area OSHA office, go to OSHA's Regional & Area Offices webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
Small businesses may contact OSHA's free on-site consultation services funded by OSHA to help determine whether there are hazards at their worksites. To contact free consultation services, go to OSHA's On-site Consultation web page or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) and press number 4.
Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards. Workers can file a complaint with OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), online via eCompliant Form, or by printing the complaint form and mailing or faxing it to the local OSHA area office. Complaints that are signed by an worker are more likely to result in an inspection.
If you think your job is unsafe or if you have questions, contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Your contact will be kept confidential. We can help. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's Workers' page.
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