Environmental Intolerance, Symptoms and Disability Among Fertile-Aged Women
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CitationVuokko, Aki. Karvala, Kirsi. Lampi, Jussi. Keski-Nisula, Leea. Pasanen, Markku. Voutilainen, Raimo. Pekkanen, Juha. Sainio, Markku. (2018). Environmental Intolerance, Symptoms and Disability Among Fertile-Aged Women. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15 (2) , 293. 10.3390/ijerph15020293.
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.