“Fragrance-Free” is a Health and Safety Policy
A “Fragrance Free” policy is great for classes. First, it is a common courtesy which allows us to “share the air” comfortably. Just as smokers now understand that they are not allowed to harm other people with their habit, so fragrance users–who use products that emit airborne chemical toxins–are eventually going to be regulated and held to a higher standard of social accountability and manners.
Fragrances are found in scented products, including personal care products, cleaning products, candles, “air fresheners” and even pesticides). They are widely used toxic formulations that cause and/or trigger acute and chronic health problems such as asthma. Some formulations contain carcinogens or suspected carcinogens. Some have chemicals which are neurotoxic or which cause liver damage. Other chemicals are endocrine disruptors, which can mess with your reproductive system and hormones. (See article links below.)
“Fragrance-Free” also means no essential oils either. Many of those are not safe, contrary to the marketing messages you may have heard.
And your clothing has to be free of scent also.
A “Fragrance-Free” policy is also an important health and safety measure designed to provide and maintain good indoor air quality (see bottom of this blog for links).
“Fragrance-Free” is a Disability Accommodation Policy
This is also my request for disability accommodation and respect from you. I am a person who suffers from asthma and other respiratory ailments and chemical injury illnesses when exposed to toxic chemicals. Banning fragrances is integral to providing me with the fundamental human right to breathe freely.
This policy doesn’t just benefit me, it benefits my students as well.
I’ve been living with environmental illness (EI) and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) for almost 30 years now. I have chronic health conditions which can occasionally be disabling, thanks to the widespread use of toxic consumer products. Every single thing I do has to be in clean air environments and among people who are “fragrance-free.” Otherwise, I cannot function and I go home sick, and stay sick for awhile.
In my opinion, fragrances and scented products should only be used by consenting adults in private settings. They have no place around children, pets, or people who are medically fragile, asthmatic, disabled, or who just plain don’t want to smell that stuff.
Their use forms a significant barrier to my ability to comfortably access education, health care (including obstetric care when I was pregnant!), jobs, public transportation, restaurants, social events, recreation, grocery stores, clothing stores, and so on.
So, please, if you’ve “forgotten” my Health and Safety Policy and are wearing perfume, cologne, scented hair products, scented deodorants, aromatherapy oils, scented lotions, or insecticides (or if your clothing is scented as a result of your customary use of the above products), I cannot share my office or classroom with you.
It is nothing personal. It’s health and safety. It’s science. It’s the only way I can manage to live and work. Thank you.
Recent Articles and Studies
National_Prevalence_and_Effects_of_Multiple_Chemical_Sensitivities – Click twice to get the PDF of this article published in the Journal of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, Feb. 16, 2018. Quote from abstract: [Results: Among the population, 12.8% report medically diagnosed MCS and 25.9% report chemical sensitivity. Of those with MCS, 86.2% experience health problems, such as migraine headaches, when exposed to fragranced consumer products; 71.0% are asthmatic; 70.3% cannot access places that use fragranced products such as air fresheners; and 60.7% lost workdays or a job in the past year due to fragranced products in the workplace.] doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001272
The Air Pollutants in Your Medicine Cabinet. Robinson Meyer, Atlantic Monthly, Feb. 21, 2018.
And my Sherlock Holmes spoof, “Death by Perfume,” written in 1997.