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 Banning Fragrances in the Workplace
by Lourdes Salvador
Q: I have a co-worker who applies expensive perfume at work and it fills the whole office and makes me ill. I´ve provided a doctor´s letter to my supervisor and asked the woman to stop, but they both think my complaint is petty and won´t do anything. What can I do?
A: A ban of all fragrances in the workplace would be best for everyone. Work isn't a popularity contest and people have a right to breathe and be healthy. Fragrances are a totally unnecessary addition to dressing in the workplace. If someone has an odor issue, they need to bathe rather than add scent to their existing odor.
Fragrance sensitivity is a disability which may be accommodated under the Americans with Disabilities Act. See:
JAN Accommodation and Compliance Series - Employees with Fragrance Sensitivity
Fact Sheet - Job Accommodations for People with Respiratory Impairment
For additional information on chemical sensitivities and general accommodations under the law, see:
You mentioned the perfume was an expensive perfume. The cost of a perfume does not impact its acceptable use in the workplace. All synthetic fragrances contain dangerous chemicals which are not revealed on the label, between 3,000 - 5,000 of them... 80% of which have not been tested for human safety.
Fragrance sensitivity to scents worn by others affects more than 30% of the population according to researchers.
For more information on the chemical composition and health effects of fragrances see:
Some additional links with quality information on fragrance sensitivity:
AAOHN: Synthetic Fragrances Pose Health Risk to 20 Percent of Workers
Fragrance chemical allergy: a major environmental and consumer health problem
Pollution & air quality - Indoor air quality - Scents
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
Copyrighted 2009 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America