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Asthma and chemical hypersensitivity: prevalence, etiology, and age of onset.

2009 SM Caress and AC Steinemann

Environmental specialists, Stanley M. Caress and Anne C. Steinemann perform study to determine prevalence, symptomatology and etiology of chemical sensitivities.


This study investigates asthma’s national prevalence and potential overlap with chemical hypersensitivity. It also examines asthma’s etiology, age of onset, and demographic characteristics. Data were collected from a geographically weighted random sample of the continental U.S. (1058 cases), in four seasonal cohorts (2005–2006).

The study found that 12.9% of the sample report asthma, 11.6% report chemical hypersensitivity, and 31.4% of those with asthma report chemical hypersensitivity.

Among asthmatics, 38% report irritation from scented products, 37.2% report health problems from air fresheners, and 13.6% report their asthma was caused by toxic exposure. Asthma cases affected each racial/ethic group in roughly the same proportion, with nearly 50% classified as childhood onset. Toxicology and Industrial Health 2009; 25: 71–78 (Asthma and Chemical Hypersensitivity).


Caress, SM, Steinemann, AC (2009) Asthma and chemical hypersensitivity: prevalence, etiology, and age of onset. Toxicology and Industrial Health February 2009 vol. 25 no. 1 71-78. Sage Publications. PDF on University of Washington Libraries Website.

SM Caress. Stanley M. Caress. Environmental Studies, University of West Georgia, Pafford 128, Carrollton, Georgia, USA

AC Steinemann. Anne C. Steinemann. Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Public Affairs, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

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