L'Association pour la santé environnementale du Québec / Environmental Health Association of Québec

Impacts of COVID-19 Health Measures on People with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

March 2023 – The Environmental Health Association of Québec (ASEQ-EHAQ) is glad to be presenting at Hotel Bonaventure (Montreal) on March 13 to 16 for the event Journée annuelles de santé publique (Annual day of Public Health) hosted by INSPQ. The project is on the lived experience of those living with MCS during the COVID-19 pandemic. ASEQ-EHAQ’s researcher will communicate our findings in person and a Q&A session will follow the presentation of the poster on Monday, March 13. This event is hybrid, you can register for either in person or online participation on:

Click here to view the poster

April 2021 – With the ongoing pandemic and the need to protect our health with appropriate measures, a fact sheet has been developed with information on safer, least-toxic cleaning and disinfection methods and products.

A support letter has also been made available to help you gain access to essential services.

November 2021 – Guidelines to disinfection and lists of products (COVID-19)

The above link will provide a list of disinfectants and hand-sanitizers authorized for sale in Canada by Health Canada until November 2021.

It also provides information on guidelines for Disinfection, Sanitizing, Sterilization and Cleaning from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including the active ingredients, and known health effects and recommendations. Other sources of information include Health Canada, EPA, and journal articles.

February 2021 – The MCS/COVID project survey is now closed

We thank those who have participated in our online survey on the impacts of COVID-19 health measures. The survey is now closed. Your participation will help improve the quality of life of those experiencing MCS and improve understanding of the condition in the current health context. For those still in the process of completing the survey, you will still be able to submit your response.

Please visit this page often for new updates on the MCS/COVID project!  

October 2020 – About the MCS/COVID-19 Project

The Environmental Health Association of Québec has listened to your requests during the ongoing health crisis and has worked hard to launch the MCS/COVID-19 project. This project, a joint effort between ASEQ-EHAQ, the clinicians at the Environmental Health Clinic at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto and other doctors and researchers, will address the measures taken against COVID-19 and their impacts on individuals suffering from multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS).

Since the start of the pandemic, activity on our telephone help lines has increased by more than 33%. We understand that the ongoing health crisis may have brought new challenges or worsened previous ones. For example, you may be facing increased disability due to greater exposure to disinfectants and fragranced products as well as increased barriers to essential needs such as food and healthcare. You may also be experiencing increased levels of isolation as a result of confinement, limited social circles and increase in the use of chemicals and fragrances. The pandemic has unfortunately also given rise to the sharing of false information, especially on social media, that has plagued both the scientific community and the public (Mian & Khan, 2020).

In order to improve access to healthcare and essential services for MCS sufferers, reduce isolation and give you the most accurate and relevant information, we have created the MSC/COVID-19 project with the following five goals in mind:

1) Identifying triggers that are causing symptoms

MCS sufferers often have other chronic conditions which make them more vulnerable to the health effects of COVID-19 and identifying triggers is key to better management. In this project, we will ask the MCS population to identify substances that can trigger symptoms and perhaps increase disability

2) Improving accessibility and reducing disability

The MCS population has also experienced loss of accessibility due to barriers to access to essential/basic needs such as food and healthcare as well as increased effects related to isolation as a result of confinement, limited social circles and increased chemical use.

3) Gathering current and evidence-based data to assess the impact of novel coronavirus on the MCS population

Environmental sensitivities are growing fields in research, and the impacts of the measures taken against the new coronavirus on this population is just one of many important aspects that remain unknown. The pandemic has unfortunately given rise to the sharing of false information that is readily available on social media. We hope that our efforts to collect current data on the population and to publish a scientific article will help translate into evidence-based practices for the community, health professionals and policy makers.

4) Education and raising awareness of MCS

Despite being recognised as a disability under the Canadian Human Right Act, the lack of awareness on MCS as well as recognition has always existed well before COVID-19 and this has made it difficult for individuals to obtain a diagnosis and accommodation. We hope that by engaging the community in all major steps of the project, their voices can be heard, and a sense of belonging can be achieved.

5) Offering sustainable solutions for the future

Like many other health crises in the past, regardless of severity, COVID-19 is certainly not the last. It’s important that the MCS population is equipped with the necessary knowledge and resources they need to help better manage and avoid complications from other chronic conditions. The same goes for health professionals or workplace settings so they can be mindful of safer alternatives for this population.

Get involved in our project!

You will be able to help achieve our goals by participating in this project through many online activities such as surveys, discussions, video conferences, letters and much more! We hope that your participation will enable you to share the necessary resources and information to help your local community and beyond to get through the current pandemic.

Stay tuned or contact us to learn more!