Lourdes Salvador's Column
...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.
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Fragrance Free Policies at Work
by Lourdes Salvador
Q: My employer just started a fragrance free policy at work to accommodate several co-workers who don´t like fragrance. I´ve never heard of such a thing! What´s this all about?
A: Fragrance sensitivity is stunningly common. A 2009 study revealed that a considerable percentage of the American population experiences adverse health effects from fragranced products. Researchers Caress and Steinemann say, "Results aggregated from both surveys found that 30.5% of the general population reported scented products on others irritating, 19% reported adverse health effects from air fresheners, and 10.9% reported irritation by scented laundry products vented outside."
It´s not that your coworkers don´t like perfume. People who experience adverse health effects often liked scents and used them prior to developing sensitivity to fragrances. Perfumes and other fragrances found in air fresheners, cleaning, and personal care products are irritants and often contain unregulated chemicals, some of which have been found to be on the United States Environmental Protection Agency hazardous waste list.
Your employer is not alone. Fragrance chemical sensitivity is a very real impairment and is recognized by many governments and organizations around the world. Here are just a few:
- American Lung Association
- American Medical Association
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- U.S. Department of Education
- Social Security
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers For Disease Control and Prevention
- The German Institute of Medicine
- Japanese Ministry of Health
- Government of South Australia
A full list of the links and actual documents for these organizations may be found at: http://mcs-america.org/index_files/MCSRecognition.htm
A startling number of employers, including the U.S. Center's for Disease Control and Prevention, have recognized the serious nature and human toxicity of fragrance and have enacted fragrance free policies.
Here is a partial list:
- Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Accessibility for United Methodist Churches
- Broward Sheriff's Office Internal Affairs Division
- City of Detroit
- DHS Oregon Fragrance Guidelines
- Portland Police Call Center Fragrance Free Policy
- Portland Police Records Dept Fragrance Free Policy
- United States Access Board
- U.S. Census Bureau
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Boise Natural Health, Inc.
- Brant Community Healthcare System
- Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston
- The Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine
- Allan D. Lieberman, M.D.,
- Francis Holistic Medical Center
- David Thompson Health Region: Scent Free Workplace Policy
- Harrison Medical Center, 2520 Cherry Avenue, Bremerton, WA
- Hotel Dieu Hospital, Ontario, Canada.
- Mercy Medical Center
- The Nova Scotia Environmental Health Centre
- Women's College Hospital (Canada)
- Arthouse Preschool, LLC
- Athabasca University
- Cecil College
- Challenge Charter School, Glendale, Arizona
- Colby Village Elementary School, New Brunswick Board of Education, School District 8
- Minnesota HB 2148, "Fragrance-Free Schools Pilot Project,"
- Mount Saint Vincent University Scent Free Policy, Canada
- North Seattle Community College
- Portland State University
- School District 8 Saint John, New Brunswick , Canada
- University of Calgary, Canada
- University of Toronto, Canada
- Vernon Barford Junior High School, Alberta, Canada
- York University
- The Bay Area Country Dance Society
- Cosmic Laugh
- Public Service Alliance of Canada BC
- The National Organization for Lesbians of SizE
- The Seattle English Country Dances
- Scent Free Facilities, Organizations, and Events (2003-2005)
Links to the scent free policies for these employers can be found here: http://mcs-america.org/index_files/FragranceFreePlaces.htm.
Look on the bright side. Your employer´s new policy is to the benefit of everyone´s health.
Caress S.M., Steinemann A.C. 2009. Prevalence of fragrance sensitivity in the American population. Journal of Environmental Health 71(7): 46-50.
Steinemann AC. Fragranced consumer products and undisclosed ingredients. Environ Impact Asses Rev (2008), doi:10.1016/j.eiar.2008.05.002.
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
Copyrighted 2010 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America