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The Federal MCS Review: comment by Peter Evans

Wednesday 12 November 2008

ChemicalsPeter Evans, Convenor of the South Australian Task Force on MCS, has responded to the Office of Chemical Safety’s request for comments on its draft report on MCS:


MCS draft report – comment by Peter Evans (PDF, 76KB)

This is the text of the above PDF:


Office of Chemical Safety Invites Comment on its Draft Review of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

By Peter Evans
South Australian Task Force on MCS

For the past several years Australia’s principal chemical regulators have been investigating multiple chemical sensitivity. After numerous frustrating delays a working draft of the report entitled “A Scientific Review of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: Identifying Key Research Needs”, has been published by the Office of Chemical Safety. The aim of the review is to produce a robust, science-based report that recognises the existence of MCS and enhances the understanding, prevention and management of this complex and poorly understood condition.

In late October, as part of a community consultation process associated with the review, around 15 representatives from national MCS interest groups were invited to meet with government representatives in Canberra’s Old Parliament House. Key community concerns at the meeting were that the review was unduly biased towards psychological theories of MCS and that there was no information on the latest physiological research such as genetic factors in MCS. The consensus view of community groups was that the report in its current form might actually do more harm than good due to psychological bias. Some people with MCS are already avoiding attempting to access medical care due to very real fears that they may be inappropriately forced into psychiatric institutions without access to proper medical care. Poorly informed medical practitioners do not need any more ammunition for this kind of mistreatment of people with MCS. In response to these community concerns some early modifications were made to the report and more are likely to occur in future.

The Office of Chemical Safety appears committed to producing an accurate and robust report based on the available science. Community groups are now mobilising to ensure that the report includes the latest scientific evidence of the physiological basis of MCS.

The review has not included any consideration of the human rights and disability access aspects of MCS. The Office of Chemical Safety has very limited influence on the policies of other government departments to ensure that people with MCS have safe access to hospitals, doctors and other essential services in the community. However, it was recognised at the community consultation meeting that the MCS review will act as a beachhead in government to influence other departments to develop appropriate policies on issues like MCS disability access. For this reason it is imperative that the existing psychological bias in the report be removed.

The Office of Chemical Safety has now entered into a public consultation and corrections period for its report, a copy of which is available from October 3 until 15 January, from the OCS website at Corrections or comments on the information in the report can be submitted via email to or by post to Office of Chemical Safety, PO Box 58, Sydney, NSW, 2001. Submissions close on January 15, 2009.


Here’s the draft report that Peter refers to:


A Scientific Review of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: Identifying Key Research Needs (PDF, 295KB)

And here’s the main information page for the draft report at the Office of Chemical Safety website:

Office of Chemical Safety: Multiple Chemical Sensitivity review draft report


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