New allergen-free houses in Switzerland

A group of multi chemical sensitivity (MCS) sufferers has come together to build a special block of flats as free as possible from the chemicals which cause their suffering. President of the building cooperative Christian Schifferle, himself an MCS sufferer, has spent ‘thousands of nights’ in his camper van, and currently sleeps in the woods where it is cold but where he is not effected by electrosmog or pollution.

He says those affected by MCS lead lives of isolation and difficulty, finding it hard to hold down jobs because of their working environments, and unable to claim benefits because MCS is not a recognised disability. People with MCS react to chemical environments or to a range of chemical substances such as deodorants, paint, synthetic materials, cosmetics and perfumes.

MCS is similar to an autoimmune disease, but the usual tests to determine allergies do not necessarily work for MCS. The worst cases present symptoms including skin allergy, intestinal ailments, muscular deficiency, vertigo, breathing difficulty and circulation problems. Klaus Tereh, a doctor and member of the cooperative committee says the illness can even lead to death, as some patients react as one would do to anaphylactic shock. But many doctors refuse to recognise MCS as an organic pathology and consider it to be caused by psychological problems.

This prompted the joining of forces, and the result is this block of flats in an area of Zurich with lower electrosmog. This is the first such project in Europe, and residents will be paying around $1,411 per month when the flats are finished. The building has been constructed using chemical free stone, with a purification unit installed at the entrance to remove chemical residues. The project needs another 1.3 million Swiss Francs, which Schifferle is confident he will find. He knows of a few hundred more MCS sufferers in Switzerland, though exact figures are hard to obtain, and Dr Klaus Tereh is hopeful that continuing research will help to shed more light on MCS, but says that the fact that the symptoms are caused by permissible levels of chemicals does not help matters.

Schifferle meanwhile is continuing to try and persuade people that housing of this type is a necessity for MCS sufferers, not a luxury.

Courtesy of

Also, see our previous article on Super-E homes.


First published in January 2011


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