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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(2), 293; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15020293

Environmental Intolerance, Symptoms and Disability Among Fertile-Aged Women

1
Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, P.O. Box 40, 00032 Helsinki, Finland
2
Environmental Health, National Institute for Health and Welfare, P.O. Box 95, 70701 Kuopio, Finland
3
Social and Health Services, 70701 Kuopio, Finland
4
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Kuopio University Hospital, P.O. Box 100, 70029 KYS Kuopio, Finland
5
Institute of Clinical Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Eastern Finland, P.O Box 1627, 70211 Kuopio, Finland
6
School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 1627, 70211 Kuopio, Finland
7
Department of Pediatrics, Kuopio University Hospital, P.O. Box 100, 70029 KYS Kuopio, Finland
8
Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 20, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 January 2018 / Revised: 4 February 2018 / Accepted: 6 February 2018 / Published: 8 February 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Health Behavior, Chronic Disease and Health Promotion)
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Abstract

The purpose was to study the prevalence of environmental intolerance (EI) and its different manifestations, including behavioral changes and disability. Fertile-aged women (n = 680) of the Kuopio Birth Cohort Study were asked about annoyance to 12 environmental factors, symptoms and behavioral changes. We asked how much the intolerance had disrupted their work, household responsibilities or social life. We chose intolerance attributed to chemicals, indoor molds, and electromagnetic fields to represent typical intolerance entities. Of the respondents, 46% reported annoyance to chemicals, molds, or electromagnetic fields. Thirty-three percent reported symptoms relating to at least one of these three EIs, 18% reported symptoms that included central nervous system symptoms, and 15% reported behavioral changes. Indicating disability, 8.4% reported their experience relating to any of the three EIs as at least “somewhat difficult”, 2.2% “very difficult” or “extremely difficult”, and 0.9% “extremely difficult”. Of the latter 2.2%, all attributed their intolerance to indoor molds, and two thirds also to chemicals. As the number of difficulties increased, the number of organ systems, behavioral changes and overlaps of the three EIs also grew. EI is a heterogeneous phenomenon and its prevalence depends on its definition. The manifestations of EI form a continuum, ranging from annoyance to severe disability. View Full-Text
Keywords: idiopathic environmental intolerance; multiple chemical sensitivity; sick building syndrome; electromagnetic hypersensitivity idiopathic environmental intolerance; multiple chemical sensitivity; sick building syndrome; electromagnetic hypersensitivity
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Vuokko, A.; Karvala, K.; Lampi, J.; Keski-Nisula, L.; Pasanen, M.; Voutilainen, R.; Pekkanen, J.; Sainio, M. Environmental Intolerance, Symptoms and Disability Among Fertile-Aged Women. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 293.

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