Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is a disorder triggered by exposure to chemicals in the environment. Exposure can occur through air, food, water, or skin contact. Like allergies, MCS symptoms tend to come and go with various exposures, although some people's reactions may be delayed. MCS often impairs multiple bodily functions, including the nervous system and digestion; typical MCS symptoms include headaches, asthma or breathing problems, memory loss, fatigue, and depression.

Students with MCS may have difficulty attending class regularly or completing work assignments. Tasks that involve the use of, or exposure to, various chemicals, such as those used in science labs or art work, may be particularly difficult to complete. Because each person affected by MCS has a unique set of health problems and triggers, individual students are the best source of information about their specific needs.


Typical accommodations for students with multiple chemical sensitivity include:

  • preferential seating near windows that open
  • well-ventilated spaces, free of pollutants
  • flexible attendance requirements
  • attention to chemicals in laboratory work and art work
  • alternative assignments

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Invisible Disabilities and Postsecondary Education

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General Information on Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

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