The Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (EESI): a standardized approach for measuring chemical intolerances for research and clinical applications

Toxicol Ind Health. 1999 Apr-Jun;15(3-4):370-85. doi: 10.1177/074823379901500311.


The lack of a generally accepted case definition for multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) and the absence of a standardized approach for measuring salient aspects of chemical sensitivity that would permit cross-comparison of findings by different investigators have hindered progress in this area. Based upon findings from an earlier study of 112 persons with self-reported chemical sensitivity who attributed their chemical sensitivity to a well-defined exposure event, we developed an instrument with self-rating scales to assess Symptom Severity, Chemical (Inhalant) Intolerances, Other Intolerances (e.g., foods, medications, alcohol), Life Impact, and Masking (a measure of ongoing chemical exposures). When administered to four patient groups and controls, the scales showed good reliability and validity overall (n = 421) and in each group. Used together, the scales provided sensitivity of 92% and specificity of 95% in differentiating chemically sensitive persons from controls. Our results support use of these scales individually or collectively for a variety of applications including the selection of chemically sensitive subjects and controls for research, assessment of chemical sensitivity in various study populations, cross-comparison of groups studied by different investigators, pre- and post-assessment of therapeutic interventions, clinical evaluation of complex patients who report intolerances, and teaching medical residents and students how to evaluate patients for chemical sensitivity and MCS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity / etiology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires