Why such concern? You can read the Ontario group’s new critique and counterargument, “Putting the Chemicals Back in Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.” This response to the INSPQ report lays out what the debate and the stakes are all about.

“The year 2021 was, for the most part, a really good year in MCS studies, advancing understanding in a number of important ways” says environmental health writer and consultant Varda Burstyn, the lead author of Putting the Chemicals Back. “A number of important new articles were published. But then, we read the report from Quebec’s INSPQ, and the sirens went off. Because we realized that if its conclusions were accepted by medical and health authorities, anywhere, people with MCS, as well as ME and other complex diseases, would be imperilled, and all the good work done by so many advocates, researchers and physicians would be endangered.”

“That’s why we decided to write our own report, and to research and reference it extensively,” says Maureen MacQuarrie, the collaborating author, a former lawyer and policy adviser, and now a member of the Steering Committee for the ICanCME Research Network and clinical care working group. “We knew that by showcasing the research omitted by the INSPQ plus the new research, we could refute their conclusions and, at the same time, give people a great idea of the really good work being done out there today.”

“This new report is important for all kinds of people,” says Adrianna Tetley, the former CEO of the Alliance for Healthier Communities, board member of MEAO and former co-chair of the Ontario Centre of Excellence in Environmental Health business case project. “Policy makers, health providers, those working in the disability field, and many others urgently need to understand what MCS really is, and they’ll gain new knowledge about ME too. They need this as responsible partners in the effort in front of all of us, which is to modernize health care in general to address complex, environmentally-linked diseases, including long-COVID – a modernization that is very overdue.”

“We identified some very excellent new research in neurological and immunological factors, and unpacked it to make it accessible to all,” Varda says. “We gave a lot of space to the clinical experience, and to patient experience – both left out of the INSPQ report. In addition, and crucially, we placed MCS within the field of environmental health where it belongs. We drew both on important existing work and on wonderful new work that shows how seriously everyday toxics impact neurological and immunological, as well as many other aspects of health. All that was lost or ignored in the INSPQ report, and the result was an astounding mistake in describing common chemicals as “harmless.”

“Everyone has a stake in this refutation of the conclusions of the INSPQ report,” says Denise Magi, President of MEAO, “because we are all targeted by it, and we all need the new type of medicine that our critique explains and proposes.”

“The new practical recommendations in this report, including those for a new paradigm for clinical care, are excellent, and so badly needed,” says Ted Ball, health systems design consultant, patient advocate and former co-chair of the OCEEH business case project. “Reading this report, even the executive summary alone, is revelatory, of MCS, and of studies in environmental health more broadly. It is a highly rewarding investment of time and paints a clear picture of the direction we need to go in and how to do it.”


Putting the Chemicals Back in “Multiple Chemical Sensitivity”: Ontario Advocates Address Syndrome de sensibilité chimique multiple, une approche Intégrative pou iIdentifier les mécanismes physiopathologiques/ Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome, an Integrative Approach to Identifying the Pathophysiological Mechanisms. Lead author Varda Burstyn Collaborating author Maureen MacQuarrie for the Ontario Ad Hoc Environmental Health Advocates. June 27, 2022.

Two other highly relevant documents from the Ontario process to create a network of care for people with ES/MCS, ME/CFS and FM, that are extensively cited and analyzed in the new report are:

Recognition, inclusion and equity: Solutions for people living in Ontario with ES/MCS, ME/CFS and FM – The Business Case Proposal, Steering Committee of the OCEEH Business Case project, November 2013.



You may also be interested in reading a number of additional documents from the Ontario process to create a network of care for people with ES/MCS, ME/CFS and FM, especially those cited and analyzed in the new report, as well as the related and relevant links below.

Additional research reports from multiple components of 2011-2013 study project funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Ontario Trillium Foundation, to prepare a business case for a three tiered network of care called the Ontario Centre of Excellence in Environmental Health (OCEEH). http://recognitioninclusionandequity.org/resources/

Ontario Task Force on Environmental Health 2016-2018.








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Molot, J. (2021). Response to the report of the National Institute of Public Health Québec (INSPQ) on Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) – Summary. October 15, 2021. Submitted by ASEQ-EHAQ. Available at https://aseq-ehaq.ca/pdf/Response_INSPQ_Short-Summary_EN.pdf Accessed April 15, 2022.

Molot, J., Sears, M., Marshall, L., & Bray, R. I. (2021). Neurological susceptibility to environmental exposures: pathophysiological mechanisms in neurodegeneration and multiple chemical sensitivity. Reviews on Environmental Health. Published online September 16, 2021. Available at https://doi.org/10.1515/reveh-2021-0043



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