Odor sensitivity and respiratory complaint profiles in a community-based sample with asthma, hay fever, and chemical odor intolerance

Carol M. Baldwin, Iris R. Bell, Mary Kay O'rourke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

This is a community-based study of odor sensitivity and respiratory complaints for persons reporting asthma (n=14/141), hay fever (n=72/140), and chemical odor intolerance (CI) (n=41/181). CI, a symptom of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), was determined from self-ratings of feeling‘moderately' to‘severely' ill using the Chemical Odor Intolerance Index (CII). Index odors included perfume, pesticide, drying paint, new carpet odor, and car exhaust. Six additional odors [natural gas, disinfectants, chlorinated water, room deodorizers, and environmental tobacco smoke (ETS)] were also assessed in the health and environment survey. Asthmatics reported feeling‘frequently' to‘almost always' ill from the CII index odors of drying paint, new carpet odor, perfume, and cleaning agents compared to nonasthmatics. People with hay fever documented feeling‘frequently' to‘almost always' ill from pesticides, drying paint, and car exhaust compared to individuals without hay fever. The CI cited illness from air freshener, natural gas and chlorinated water, in addition to the index odors of perfume, paint, pesticides, new carpeting and auto exhaust. All three groups were significantly more likely to report feeling ill from ETS. People with asthma were significantly more likely to report lower lung complaints, such as wheeze and dyspnea. People with hay fever cited more chest tightness. The CI were significantly more likely to report upper and lower respiratory symptoms. Given this overlap in respiratory complaints, it could be that CI may serve to amplify these traditional immune-related disorders and/or suggest that having asthma or hay fever could make one more vulnerable to CI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-409
Number of pages7
JournalToxicology and Industrial Health
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1999

Keywords

  • asthma
  • chemical odor intolerance
  • hay fever
  • multiple chemical sensitivity
  • relative risk ratio
  • respiratory problems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Odor sensitivity and respiratory complaint profiles in a community-based sample with asthma, hay fever, and chemical odor intolerance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this