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A treatment for chemical intolerance and non-specific building-related illness

Research project Adverse reactions to everyday chemical exposure such as perfume, or the indoor air at work, are common enough to be considered public health issues. Can the symptoms be alleviated?

It is very common to be bothered by the indoor air at work, at home or in other places in society. Symptoms mainly attributed to certain buildings is known as “non-specific building-related illness”. Reactions to everyday chemicals such as perfume is called “chemical intolerance”. The aim of this project is to investigate whether symptoms can be treated through a method inspired by hyposensibilization/allergy vaccination.

Head of project

Linus Andersson
Other position, associate professor

Project overview

Project period:

2020-01-01 2022-12-31


Astma- och allergiförbundet

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Psychology

Research area


Project description

Up to one in ten adult swedes report that they get ill by the indoor air. Symptoms associated with certain buildings are defined as “building-related illness”. Reactions to everyday chemical exposures are labeled as “chemical intolerance”. These two conditions overlap, and are both medically unexplained. The association between exposure and symptom is unknown, and there is no established way to treat those who seek aid. Our aim is to investigate whether symptoms can be alleviated by a treatment intervention. We will recruit 10 patients for whom we can establish a symptom-eliciting exposure to a multiple-case study. After pre-testing, they will participate in 10 sessions in a well-controlled exposure chamber, where they are exposed to low but increasing doses of the triggering compound. The intervention is followed by extensive post-measurements and a final session 6 months after the intervention cessation.

Latest update: 2020-02-11