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Reported chemical sensitivities in a health survey of United Kingdon military personnel
  1. S Reid,
  2. M Hotopf,
  3. L Hull,
  4. K Ismail,
  5. C Unwin,
  6. S Wessely
  1. Gulf War Illnesses Research Unit, Guy's, King's, and St Thomas's School of Medicine, London SE5 8AZ, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr S Reid, Paterson Centre for Mental Health, St Mary's Hospital, South Wharf Road, London W2 1PD, UK;


Objective: To report the prevalence of self reported chemical sensitivities in three cohorts of United Kingdom service personnel.

Method: Cross sectional postal survey of three cohorts of United Kingdom military personnel comprising Gulf veterans (n=3531), those who had served in Bosnia (n=2050), and those serving during the Gulf war but not deployed there (Era cohort, n=2614).

Results: Sensitivity to at least one everyday chemical was reported by a considerable proportion of all three cohorts, and particularly by veterans of the Gulf war (Era: 14%; Bosnia: 13%; Gulf: 28%).

Conclusion: Reported chemical sensitivities were common in all three military cohorts. Our understanding of chemical sensitivities remains limited and objective evidence for a causal link between low level exposures to chemicals and reported symptoms is lacking. Given their frequency in the population, further work in this area is necessary.

  • multiple chemical sensitivity
  • occupational exposure
  • MCS
  • multiple chemical sensitivity

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