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October 2, 1991

Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes

Author Affiliations

San Francisco General Hospital University of California— San Francisco

San Francisco General Hospital University of California— San Francisco

JAMA. 1991;266(13):1858-1859. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470130140053

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Drs Ashford and Miller were originally given the opportunity to research the subject of chemical exposures and associated multiple chemical sensitivities by a contract from the New Jersey Health Department. The report that resulted was expanded to form the basis for this volume, which provides a stimulating review of the controversy surrounding multiple chemical sensitivities.

The authors' primary message is that the techniques of scientific inquiry must be applied to a problem defined by the presence of multiple symptoms reflecting multiple organ systems among diverse groups of workers. The affected include office workers plagued by indoor air pollution, industrial workers exposed to industrial chemicals, and individuals exposed in their residences to ground water, air pollutants, food contaminated with pesticide residues, and home chemical products.

The authors note the parallels between the rise of multiple chemical sensitivities and two historical factors: the rise of chemical production and consumption and an overall