Lourdes Salvador's Column
...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.
Lourdes Salvador volunteers as a writer and social advocate for the recognition of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). She was a passionate advocate for the homeless and worked with her local governor to provide services to the homeless through a new approach she created to end homelessness. That passion soon turned to advocacy and activism for people with MCS and the medical professionals who serve them. She co-founded MCS Awareness in 2005 and went on to found MCS America in 2006. She serves as a partner for Environmental Education Week, a partner for the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE), and a supporter for the American Cancer Society: Campaign for Smokefree Air.
Q & A: Public HVAC Scent Diffusers
by Lourdes Salvador
Q: The store I shop in recently began adding scent in the HVAC system and the air in the store is filled with it. It’s very unpleasant and I often can’t breathe in the store. I may have to stop shopping there. I was thinking of writing a letter. What can I do to remedy this?
A: First, the adding of synthetic chemicals to the air is a health issue. Studies have shown that there are numerous toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in the form of volatile organic compounds in fragrances. Scientists say that 30.5% of the general population experience scented products on others irritating. That’s a lot of customers to loose and does not even consider the millions of people who already have asthma, allergies, respiratory disease, and chemical sensitivities.
The reason these scent diffusers are often installed is because scent marketers spend millions to sell their products by convincing store management through biased studies that adding scent to the HVAC system will keep customers in their stores longer, hence they have time to buy more.
Like the scent manufacturers, approaching the issue from the financial bottom line is important. Manufacturers have convinced the store management that their sales will go up if they use these scents. Customers need to tell them otherwise.
The best solution is to shop elsewhere, send someone in to shop for you, or request accommodations where the employees shop for you and bring your purchases to the curb to collect payment. Let the store know why you are requesting accommodations and encourage them to remove the scent diffuser so you can once again enter to browse to select point-of-purchase items you would not buy otherwise.
Studies have shown that people with multiple chemical sensitivity may be functionally impaired by fragrances and other chemicals. Functional impairment qualifies as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Key points to address in your letter:
- 30.5% of the general population experience scented products as irritating.
- The addition of scent has ruined your shopping experience.
- You want accommodations to obtain goods from the store.
- Employees would be more productive and customer base would increase.
- Request the installation of an air filter on the HVAC instead to "improve air quality and shopping experience".
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
Copyrighted 2009 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America