There are reasons people choose and enjoy isolation, but developing disabling adverse effects from the toxic chemicals in everyday products and materials is seldom one of them.
Do you know someone who says fragrances bother or disable them? Chances are pretty good that you do, now that 34.7% of the population experience adverse effects, ranging from mild to severe and disabling, from fragrance exposures.
When your friend, family member, or colleague informs you that something you use has an adverse effect on them, how would you respond?
Do you choose the friendship? Or the product?
Would you stop using your perfume or cologne and other scented products to be “safe” near your friend?
Can you stop using fabric softeners, dryer sheets, and fragranced (or otherwise toxic) laundry products, replacing them with non-toxic, fragrance-free versions?
Would you change your favorite moisturizer or lipstick if they are causing your friend or co-worker to experience adverse health effects?
Would you shop around for new products that don’t have toxic fragrance chemicals or other harmful ingredients?
How willing are you to do these things for your friend, family member, or colleague?
When you choose the friendship, you also choose health; your own health, your friend’s health, future generation’s health, and eco-system health!
And when you do, we are able to enjoy your company, your self, your gifts and your services, your experiences, your sorrows, and your joys.
We can enjoy being WITH YOU!
When you choose the products, we can’t!
(Hint: it’s usually not because we don’t like you anymore)
We cannot enjoy the scrambled brain cells, the headaches, the blurred vision, the trouble recalling words, the dizziness, the difficulty breathing, the loss of co-ordination, or any other often debilitating symptom that those toxic chemicals can produce in our bodies and brains. We can not enjoy them when they start, nor for the minutes, hours, days, or weeks it takes to recover. Nor can we enjoy the things we cannot do as a result of the toxic effects.
Will you do what we all need you to do?
Many people with MCS/ES, MCAS, fragrance sensitivity, migraines, asthma, cancer, autism, etc., can only be around and hug others when people are free of fragrance and other harmful ingredients found in too many everyday products.
Good friends are fragrance-free and safe to hug!
If you choose to still use your carefully (or not) “chosen” products instead of the friendship, believing they are more important than the well-being of another human being, then guess what! The advertisers have successfully worked their manipulative marketing magic to make a few extra dollars off you!
But you are not the only one!
They use some of their profits to fight testing and regulation and even go so far as to create misleading “science” to publicly deny adverse effects, claiming their toxic chemicals are within government limits, if there are any (which they usually wrote) so that when someone tells you they are experiencing health problems from those products, the industry line is that it couldn’t possibly be their fault, and of course you should keep spending your money with them.
Yet we all still have power.
Much more than we realize.
Everything we say, do, and buy has effects and consequences. We can make a choice as to what kind of consequences and impact we have in and on the world.
We can have a world where friendship, health and long-term well-being are more important than short-term appearances and corporate profits.
But we have to make an effort to make that happen, if that’s what we want.
What kind of a world do you choose?
What kind of products do you buy and use?
If we keep choosing the conventional products advertised on tv and in glossy magazines, or the products pushed by MLMs, more and more people (including children) will become sick and injured with chronic health problems.
It’s not just people with MCS/ES who are affected. Cancers, MS, autism, asthma, fibromyalgia, endocrine disruption, diabetes, obesity, sperm damage, reproductive difficulties, and many other health problems are being connected to chemicals commonly found in fragrances and other everyday products.
Health care costs are climbing, we are all paying for them at the same time the corporations profit from making us sick.
If you dig deep enough, you might find that many of the suppliers of fragrance and cosmetics ingredients also make pesticides, solvents and other products and materials derived mostly from the oil, gas and coal industry, and they also make pharmaceutical and medical supplies, thereby profiting at both ends.
As more people discover these truths, the MLMs pushing essential oils have jumped in with false claims that their products are safe alternatives, but if they were, so many people wouldn’t be having adverse health effects from those too (even from the pure, the therapeutic, and the organic ones).
Most of us think it’s normal to have some products that just don’t agree with us, so we search for another product that does. It’s almost easy to ignore and forget about the symptoms, until they become more common and in response to more products, like when many things that used to be ok, no longer are.
Still, it’s usually not until it gets to a point that it’s difficult to find safe replacement products, that we start asking more questions and searching for answers.
What we learn then can be very disappointing. Yet if this info was available to all, and people could be diagnosed and “accommodated” early (not subjected to further exposures), severe MCS/ES can usually be avoided, and other accommodations are MUCH easier to accomplish. If however the MCS/ES progresses due to prolongued and/or repeated exposures, it becomes harder, much harder, and it can even become so hard that some don’t make it.
When the symptoms become severe, and the person is no longer able to work, they will NEED help, as everyday exposures, like from shopping, or going to the doctor, will be too harmful or impossible to safely endure, or require days to weeks to recover from.
Common tasks that require energy can become extremely difficult, but when assistance is needed, far too often it isn’t available if the helpers cause more harm from 1st, 2nd, or 3rd hand fragrance residues, and as a result, too many people live without having even their basic needs met. Because, products.
Life should not be about choosing from bad or worse.
We should all have safe products and clean air to breathe.
Why is it so hard for people to quit using fragranced products, much like quitting smoking, even though there are so many safer fragrance-free options available? Shouldn’t a simple decision to stop the harm be enough?
All anyone has are the friends, family, and communities who believe friendship and kindness are more important than fragrances and other harmful products.
Please choose people, not products!
Choose clean air!
If you want to learn more about fragrances, and how and why they are so problematic these days, here are two excellent resources:
How to be fragrance-free (updated):
A list of fragrance-free policies that includes municipalities, hospitals, schools and others…
Many people with MCS/ES also have EHS and will need you to turn off your wireless devices in their presence.
photo cropped from a poster made by AEHA Ontario, now known as EHA Ontario
Here are some MCS Visitors Guidelines for visiting people with more severe MCS/ES
check in particular Section 4. Guideline Checklists for a visit to a MCS person
It’s good for you! It’s good for me!
(post updated February 2020)
very well written. love it. i have cerebral palsy and was approved for 22 hours of home health aid work, also nice since i can no longer go outside for errands due to MCS. the agency would not serve me due to my MCS saying they could not accommodate it. i sent a 22 page letters with every US agency from another Vermont county that serves persons with MCS in the same state program to the Dept. of Education, ADA, HUD, etc etc saying that they were discriminating against me, a disabled person whose needs were easily accommodated. Suddenly no one said “good luck” and hung up on me. Suddenly scared people were trying to get those Tyvek coveralls that work for me if the person wears no perfume or mouthwash or gum. Say ILLEGAL enough, they realized that the cost of Tyvek coveralls was less than the lawyer and public attention I was already getting.
With friends, I have none, aside from a man I hired to be my home health aide mostly because he is a Rasta Jewish man who won’t use anything from “Babylon” ie petrochemicals. He doesn’t need to wear Tyvek, he knows how I eat and clean, and he’s very emotionally supportive. We have very different religious beliefs, but we have the same idea of evil: these petrochemicals poisoning the world. If I had the money, I’d buy some Rawganquie, only company i can handle,sweat suits in various sizes and have people come in my back door and shower and put those on. I may try to get scraps from a local organic futon shop Heart of VT and make some odd tunics. But since making friends requires going outside usually I am not sure why I’d need them.
I’m really glad you’ve found some ways to receive some help!
Laws really do make a difference, sadly, when common sense and kindness are lacking.
The tyvek suits have been a lifesaver for me. They don’t enclose and cover everything, but if like you said, the people refrain from the worst and make some efforts to detox, the suits can help avoid disastrous exposures.
Note: these often have to be aired out first… and make sure the places they are purchased from, usually from safety supply stores, don’t use air”fresheners”.
As far as safer clothing for others is concerned, you don’t want expensive clothes for them to use while at your home! A person who uses toxic products (especially in their laundry and on their body) will need more than one shower, and that after likely a week to 3 of detoxing their lives in order to stop emitting the chemicals from their pores!
I have been told that the undyed clothing from Dharma Trading often works very well, even for us. They don’t have the same amount of chemicals on the fabrics because they are meant for being dyed, and dyes don’t take well to highly treated textiles.
When I can afford to, I will make an order from them for myself, but I’d also like to get some scrubs for guests or aides who haven’t cleaned up enough! My bigger challenge there would be detoxing them after guests /aides wear them… If they leave dryer sheet and fragrance residues in them, they won’t come out after (sufficiently for me anyway). In other words, I most likely won’t be lending clothing to visitors… I can’t even safely detox new clothing for myself now, not without a washer and dryer or laundry sink… but that’s another story… (altho I wonder if the Dharma Trading stuff might be easier if it doesn’t have some of those finishing chemicals?… hmmm…) BUT, if someone else has a way to have some scrubs for home care workers, who can also wash said scrubs somewhere in a safe way, it could work for them…
I’ve also entertained the thought of having togas available for guests, in summer and winter weight materials, but that would require a separate laundry and shower area too, with a home that was big enough and well ventilated enough, or with a garden or screened room in an area without neighbours contaminating the outdoor air… in other words, a dream… But we could also don togas at such times, making everyone feel more comfortable…
I’m fortunate to have healed enough here that I’ve been relatively ok having people visit who already use safeR products all the time. There was a time that even those residues were too much for me, so I’m glad I’ve recovered enough to tolerate some products on others that I don’t tolerate for use myself.
Life would be so much easier if toxic chemicals were not allowed into everyday products and materials…
Here’s a sample fragrance free policy with more resources linked from it:
Best wishes for this holiday season.
I suffer from MCS, iGe Mediated Environmental Illness, Reactive Airways, Allergies to chemicals and have bilateral osteoarthritis in my knees from standing on knee joints which have been inflammed by chemical inhalants. I have lived outside like you in Vancouver and now Toronto because it is too toxic to be indoors anywhere. I am currently sleeping outside the Law Courts Building alcove ( exit). I would like to hold a press conference on the lack of accessibility in this city: no standard enforced non-smoking bylaw, no scent- free spaces (except Federal Government workplaces), no enforcement of idling bylaw, no “green” buildings or safe green housing, no ethically based healthcare, NO HUMAN RIGHTS for people with NON-VISIBLE DISABILITIES. No accessible transit (can’t take street cars or get off at subway station with no elevator). I am an organic vegan and the only time I have stayed at a shelter here I was persecuted for being vegan and for requesting accommodation under the Charter of Human Rights & Freedoms.
Would you want to be part of my press conference in any way? I have been fogged since childhood (am 58) with DDT, malation, dursban and other insecticides in Winnipeg. I will be suing the City of Winnipeg for destoying my immune system. I left Toronto in 1994 a healthy person. Within 5 years I developed all the MCS related illnesses. The Toxic Chemicals Act has NOT been reviewed/overhauled in 40, YES F’N FORTY YEARS in CANADA!!! CRIMINAL!!!
I would like to launch several class action lawsuits. I could use your help. Proctor & Gamble (TIDE) is on the top of my list.
Pleaee contact me ASAP B4 I send out a press release to the media. Maybe you can help me with this?
I’m so sorry to hear of your suffering Olga. It is so wrong that the corporations get bailed out while we humans have to personally suffer their consequences and usually without assistance.
I’m not in Toronto anymore and have lost touch with the MCS/ES group that was more active there. Are you a member of EHA Ontario? They might know who is active (and healthy enough without feeling they have something to lose) in the Toronto area.
ARCH, the legal group, may or may not be helpful. If more people with MCS/ES contacted them, they’d know the seriousness of the issues we face.
The Ontario Ombudsman’s office can be helpful.
CERA (the Center for Rights and Accommodation) can be helpful.
If anyone is able to help, please leave a comment here.
Perhaps add a note if you wish it to be sent privately to Olga, and I will do that instead of releasing the comment to the public.
This post is just wonderful, Linda. You’ve tackled one of the roughest subjects: the choices people make when faced with those of us who have MCS. And you said it “like it is.”
Thank you. Some day I hope be able to write in a kinder and gentler way that actually inspires the fragrance users to stop hurting themselves and everyone else around them. I’m not sure this post will accomplish that for any but the one’s who are feeling some negative effects from these products already.
Here’s another blogger’s take on the subject. I hadn’t seen this when I wrote the one above:
Here are a few of my experiences with fragrance sensitivities. I’ve linked to your blog posting from my last posting.
Hoping to raise more awareness.
Well done (and sorry you need to)!
I love the images! Did you make them?
Yes, those are my doodle images. Thank you!
Great work! Good images can convey so much!
Please check out Fergiemoto’s blog post too:
I would choose the product. I can always make new friends but I wouldn’t stop using perfume. Sorry. Now for my husband I’d make an exception but not for some friends. No thank you! I’d also like to know does a respirator mask work for anyone that complaints about fragrance. You might want to try.
Cool, let’s just get people to wear masks instead of all these pesky no smoking rules. Next time your house is on fire, just pop on a respirator and don’t bother emergency services over a little bit of smoke and fire… your ableism is showing.
…”Finally, for public officials, the problem of “secondhand scents,” or indirect exposure to fragranced products, has parallels to secondhand tobacco smoke. Prevention from fragrance product exposure will enable individuals to work in their workplaces, attend school, and function in society without suffering involuntary harm.” …
Health and societal effects from exposure to fragranced consumer products
Here’s good idea for users so they don’t cause public health problems, but it doesn’t address what happens when they are out walking around leaving a toxic trail everywhere…
Reblogged this on sondasmcschatter and commented:
REBLOG FROM MY MCS SISTER LINDA!!!!!!! THANKS LINDA- YOU ALWAYS SHARE THE BEST INFO!!