It’s Not Personal, It’s The Chemicals


Have you ever noticed how some people get offended when we are disabled by, or get sick from something in the products they’ve used?

What’s up with that?


What about those who feign disbelief that we could be harmed by something they are using? Or that they could be using something that is harmful?


While I am not up to delving into the psychological and emotional intricacies of those responses here, or how industry pays big money to create them, I did come up with a few simple images with variations of the following text:

It’s not you! It’s not personal! It’s the chemicals!

Fragrances, personal care, and laundry products
contain toxic chemicals that make it impossible
for some people to be around those who use them.

It s not you 5

It s not you 2

It s not you 1

While fragrances, personal care, cleaning, and laundry products aren’t the only sources of indoor and outdoor air pollution that can be disabling and cause other adverse health effects, they are one of the easiest ones to address and eliminate.

Be fragrance-free. It’s good for you. It’s good for me.

For more information about the harmful ingredients allowed in everyday products and  materials, and to learn what you can do about it, see some of the links in the side-bar or other posts on this site and elsewhere.

Corporations (and others) should not be allowed to profit from making and selling products that harm people and the environment when used as directed.

Let’s all do what we can to nurture health and well-being for one and all!

More here:

It’s Not Personal, It’s The Chemicals #2


32 responses to “It’s Not Personal, It’s The Chemicals

  1. Thank you Linda LOVE this! Excellent.

  2. great article. I’ve taken some notes down to spread the word , but could I please have some of the links you mentioned here:” For more information about the harmful ingredients allowed in everyday products and materials, and to learn what you can do about it, see some of the links in the side-bar or other posts on this site and elsewhere.” Thanks Linda :)

  3. Reblogged this on Annelie on asthma, humor, and the world. and commented:
    Just like that. So true.

  4. So right, and so true Linda. 👍

  5. Great info. Indignant would be another great word.

    • Ah yes! But I have never heard anyone say “I am so indignant”… while I have had 2 people tell me how offended they were. The first one was 15-20 years ago, and and the last one was last month, a health food store manager, no less, who insisted that their store could in no way be responsible for the 2nd and 3rd hand fragrance residues on the things I was ordering from them.

      “We stand firmly on the fact that the contamination is happening before or after the product appears in our store.”, yet their fragranced products are not sealed in glass, nor do they have a fragrance free policy for staff.

      It’s like saying that the smoke from the smoking section could not possibly be affecting anyone, or getting into the upholstery or hair of anyone or anything in the non-smoking section on the other side of the room, airplane, whatever…

      Plus, they are “all natural”… sighs… Green-washing is so rampant that even store managers believe it!

      Maybe these responses are something you can work with from a point of love?

      • Hi just in response to this – as someone who also alerts health food shops to the contamination of their products from shell packers and staff perfume . There is an ambient cocktail of fragrances, washing powder etc smell that’s in all public places. I get it war-time I am in the city and its also on all the products that I buy from shops – supermarkets etc. I don’t know what can be done about this – yes washing powder in ships should be sealed in lead containers it’s so pervasive but what can be done about the synthetic fragrances smell from other shoppers? The only thing that will work is to ban those chemicals in these products full stop. A long way in the future but maybe one day people will wake up and see how the corporates are controlling their very body odour and public spaces.

        • We need fragrance-free supply chains. The fragrance contamination is worse than smoking ever was. We can’t get away from it anymore.

          I don’t know how there were people who had no exposure to fragrances, maybe they just didn’t realize, because I am housebound, and it’s really hard to get supplies that aren’t fragrance-contaminated from somewhere along the line, and I can’t go outside without being assaulted by someone’s toxic dryer vent exhaust.

          Here’s some US research delving into some of the problems:

          And the Australian edition:

          …”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.” …

  6. This is what I posted on my facebook with this link:

    As you choose your Christmas presents this year, please be aware, cologne makes you and others sick. 25% of the population will avoid you thinking YOU STINK. Toxic, unregulated chemicals will cause prostate, breast and uterine cancer. Cologne wearers shower water pollutes the water table destroying water resources for everyone.

    Perfume is an easy and unimaginative gift that can give your loved one cancer. You can do better.

    • The water issue is a serious one. Fragrance and other toxic ingredient residues are found in all waters now, and no, municipal filtration systems do not filter it all out for you when it comes back in your drinking water… The manufacturers are allowed to sell toxic products and not pay for the health damages and pollution they cause.

  7. It’s hard, my daughter was given a hair treatment product she uses ‘when she goes to gym’ (as if she isn’t still contaminated by the time she gets home) she thoughtfully asked me if I ‘liked how it smells’, I had to explain once again that ‘it’s not got to do with ‘liking the smell’, it’s the chemicals that are ‘off gasing’ from her hair that are attacking my nervous system, causing symptoms to flare up and causing harm to my already delicate metabolism that I don’t ‘like’. : (

    It just seems so hard for others who have not experienced severe consequences of all this poisoning to understand how these every day products everyone uses can really be so harmfull to us or how they are causing our EI or Environmental Illnesses (including cancer). It’s like they don’t want to believe it because it ‘bursts your bubble’, if we become ‘aware’ we can not willingly keep poisoning ourselves but then we must make an effort to change our ways. This is not an easy task, this society we live in teaches us that it’s necessary to ‘fit in’ and makes it easier and more accessable to survive by their rules so they profit while poisoning or contaminating us along with all life on Earth : (

    If it is understood how even ‘second hand’ cigarettes smoke can have a negative effect on your health and smokers must respect others ‘clean air’ why should it be so difficult to understand that our health is also harmed by ‘second hand chemical off gases’ from fragrances, personal care, cleaning and laundry products, etc.?

    Why is our ‘clean air’ not respected by limiting or banning these harmfull chemical exposures as has been done with smoking in public places? Will we keep poisoning everything and everyone until there is no more room for prevention and rectification as this society destroys our environment and our lives?

    There needs to be an awakening but we are walking about like chemically induced, mind muddled or brainwashed zombies that have lost their reasoning capabilities. Wake up to LIFE, respect your health and your life by finding alternative chemical-free or organic produce ♡♡♡

    • I keep hearing from people who are out there (not housebound) that there are so many people with allergies and “sensitivities” now… yet most have not realized that it’s because we are being poisoned by all these toxic laundry, personal care, cleaning, and food-like products (yes, so many processed “foods” contain artificial flavor and other chemicals) and that these substances for the vast majority were NEVER tested for human health effects, and the adverse effects that have been discovered, have been covered up by industry.

      For example, benzene is used by some fragrance manufacturers. Health professionals say there is no safe level of benzene.

      Our bodies were not designed for 24/7 ingestion of, contact with, or exposure to petroleum based substances.

  8. Regarding benzene:
    Internal documents reveal industry ‘pattern of behavior’ on toxic chemicals

    By David Heath

    Sixty-six years ago, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health wrote a report linking leukemia to benzene, a common solvent and an ingredient in gasoline. “It is generally considered,” he wrote, “that the only absolutely safe concentration for benzene is zero.”

    The report is remarkable not only because of its age and candor, but also because it was prepared for and published by the oil industry’s main lobby group, the American Petroleum Institute.

    This document and others like it bedevil oil and chemical industry executives and their lawyers, who to this day maintain that benzene causes only rare types of cancer and only at high doses.

    Decades after its release, a lawyer for Shell Oil Company flagged the 1948 report as being potentially damaging in lawsuits and gave out instructions to “avoid unnecessary disclosure of sensitive documents or information” and “disclose sensitive benzene documents only on court order.”

    … see link for full report (which was just released this week)

  9. We need to make “it’s not personal, it’s the chemicals” signs to wear around our necks. A great post.

  10. Reblogged this on allergictolifemybattle and commented:
    I like this post! It is definitely the chemicals, but it is personal when others who know my situation choose to ignore it.

  11. Ugh, as always there’s that b.s. of placing the blame on the “sensitive” person. As you said, the fragrance industry has done a great job of convincing people that fragrance is the symbol of romance and sex rather than a toxic chemical stew. I love all the memes, but the guitar guy with the ‘fro and the rose killed me. :-)

  12. Great post, Linda. Personally, I never say, “I’m offended.”, more than likely, I’ll say exactly what has happened. An example, “Fragrance has impacted on my health.”, or “Your fragrance is effecting me.” However, I have had a few people say they are offended when I ask them not to wear certain products; like my right to breathe without getting upper respiratory symptoms is below their right to smell *nice.

    I know, it’s all semantics, really, but the words we use really count. I try to avoid using the word smell when talking about a fragrance based products containing solvents or petrochemicals (and God knows what else). My mantra is: “It’s the chemicals, not the smell, in the products that impact on my health.” So, so proud of my teachers at uni these past years, as that’s what they were saying too. Some people just don’t get it!

    I love the photos. Well done :) I’ve pinned them, here:

    Miche x

  13. Where is a live chat for MCS sufferers?

    • I’m sorry, I am not aware of any live chats now.

      There are some groups on facebook that you can find if you search for MCS (or the full word) or the other terms used for MCS.

      If you are in the UK (guessing due to your use of the term “MCS sufferers”), you could get in touch with MCS Aware and see if they have live chats there.

  14. In 2014, when this post was created, essential oils had not yet become pervasive in public space, so they were not included.

    Essential oils are NOT benign, and they ARE accessibility barriers.

    Don’t share your meds if you use them medicinally. Don’t use them in public spaces where they become accessibility barriers or in ways that you transport them into public on your body and clothing.

    They also emit hazardous VOCs which combine with other pollutants to create smog.

    • “Essential oils, widely used in society, emit numerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some of these VOCs are considered as potentially hazardous under federal regulations. However, essential oils are exempt from disclosure of their ingredients on their label. Thus, the public may lack information on emissions and potential hazards from essential oils.

      This study examined VOCs emitted from a range of commercial essential oils, including tea tree oils, lavender oils, eucalyptus oils, and other individual oils and mixtures of oils. Using headspace gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), the study analyzed 24 commercial essential oils, including 12 with claims of being “natural” or related terms, such as organic, 100% pure, or plant-based.

      Results identified 595 VOCs emitted from the 24 essential oils, representing 188 different VOCs. The most common VOCs emitted were alpha-pinene, limonene, acetone, linalool, alpha-phellandrene, beta-myrcene, and camphene.

      Among the 589 VOCs identified, 124 VOCs, representing 33 different VOCs, are classified as potentially hazardous. All natural and regular essential oils emitted one or more potentially hazardous VOCs, such as acetaldehyde, acetone, and ethanol. Toluene was also found in 50% of essential oils.

      Moreover, for the prevalent VOCs classified as potentially hazardous, no significant difference was found between regular and natural essential oils. This study provides insights and information about emissions of commercial essential oils that can be useful for public awareness and risk reduction.”

  15. “How DARE she get sick by something I choose to use”
    Don’t be like that!
    Be like the people who apologize and ask if
    there’s something that can be used instead.

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