The Environment Agency presented its first report on “chemical sensitivity conditions” to the head of Tokyo’s Suginami Ward, explaining Wednesday that experts have yet to agree that the rising number of unexplained health complaints are in fact the result of chemicals. In recent years, illnesses generally referred to as “chemical sensitivity sickness” have cropped up, but there is not enough evidence to conclude that chemicals are the sole cause, the two-year study concluded. Though not formed expressly to address so-called Suginami disease, officials pledged to notify ward head Hiroshi Yamada when results of the study became available. Yamada asked the agency for help in September in determining the cause of a spate of unexplained maladies affecting locals, including dizziness, numbness and loss of taste. The symptoms are thought to be related to a trash processing facility that opened in the Suginami-Igusa area in mid-1996. The group also failed to come up with a standardized method of diagnosing whether a patient is suffering from a chemically related affliction, but tentatively defined chemically sensitive conditions as those that defy explanation by conventional medicine and are thought to be the result of exposure to chemicals in the environment. The report is the result of a debate and information compiled by a 15-member research group made up of doctors, researchers and sanitation experts, among others. It also advocates further study with an eye to making illnesses linked to chemical intolerance clinically treatable.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.