And The Winning Answer Is…

About a year ago I decided to give away an electronic item of some value that had belonged to my kids as they no longer wanted it and it had some chemical residues that prevented me from enjoying it (more too toxic tech issues). I posted it to a community giving group that is similar to Buy Nothing or Freecycle, where there are a lot of things given and received, for free (mostly clothing, toys, and small items).



As it was permitted to ask questions of respondents, I also decided to ask a question that people had to answer to be considered as a potential recipient.

Along with the description of the item, I posted:

*Please answer one of the following questions

1. Has anyone ever told you a product you use made them sick, and if so, how did you handle it?
2. If it hasn’t happened yet, how would you handle it if it did happen?

The responses included:

–  Nope. I don’t wear a lot of strong scents.

– I’d probably be a little embarrassed, but make sure to not wear that product around them ever again! I was super sensitive to smells during all of my pregnancies, so I totally understand!


– Not interested cuz I won one from ___ recently, but just wanted to say that I am fairly sensitive to perfumes but used to have a few perfumes that I liked. Until one day I was wearing one of my fruity perfumes in my father in law’s car and he complained and opened his window in the middle of winter. Ever since then I have stopped wearing perfume altogether because I felt so bad and can relate to being bothered by perfumes


– Very interested. I’d feel badly for them, tell them so and that I’d stop using the product from then on. I’d then leave so as not to make them worse. I used to work with people with strong sensitivities. I really felt for them. Since that experience I’ve become more aware of a lot of the products I use at home and or at work. I think my family has benefited also. Good thought provoking post.


– Interested please and thank you. I would apologize and not wear it around that person again and maybe get others input so I don’t have other people not say how they feel and have to put up with the smell of the product I am wearing


– A few years ago I used a moisturizer that give the look of a natural tan. I put it on at work without noticing how bad the scent was. One of my colleagues, who is super scent sensitive, reacted so badly she lost her voice I went to the washroom and scrubbed my legs clean and never wore it again. … Thanks for the consideration!!


– Interested, please This has not happened to me, but I would probably switch to a different product because I don’t have any strong attachments to the products I use.


– Interested! This has not happened to me but I would probably apologize and just switch products. I may be a bit offended by their boldness to start though. I sometimes have reactions to perfumes or soaps but I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone that the product they use made me ill. I simply avoid or tolerate. I teach … dance so I encounter this problem almost every time I’m in the studio! My thought is well I’d rather “suffer through” my reaction than smell their BO lol!


– Interested please! I am not scent-sative whatsoever and love to wear perfume, but I have been kindly advised by a coworker that a particular scent I wore was a bit much for her. Although the child inside me wanted to whine “but I waaaannntt to wear it and you cannnnn’t staaap meee!” I told her I appreciated her coming to me and asking rather than being A) self-rightous about it or B) suffering in silence. I now save that scent for the weekend, and we’re both working together happily.


– I’m pretty sensitive to scents myself so I don’t wear perfumes. I have never had any one tell me I make them sick but I tell my sister the scented oils in her house gave me a headache. She got offended but that could be because we are sisters.


– I wouldn’t be offended at all and would not wear that scent,especially if it was someone like a coworker who would be around me every day. Its not a big deal not to wear scented products but it can be a big deal for the person for whom they make sick.I work in a hospital so stopped wearing perfume years ago


– Interested…. This has happened to me when I was pregnant for my Youngest child her Father used to wear Axe cologne and everytime he’d come near me it literally made me dizzy and throw up. unfortunately he wasn’t as respectful or as sweet as the people on here because he kept wearing it and still does today (years later).


And the winning answer was:

magic wand 2

– Interested, thank you.  In response to your question: it has not yet happened to me but I’m sure I would stop using the product immediately. I cannot think of anything that I need in my life enough to continue using if it makes others around me sick.

I will repeat that (so that we remember what to say and do the next time we encounter someone who has allergies or environmental “sensitivities” of any kind:

“I would stop using the product immediately. I cannot think of anything that I need in my life enough to continue using if it makes others around me sick.”

And my response to the group (long winded because I had brain fog):

Thank you everyone for playing along, and thanks for being kind. Please bear with me a little longer.

I’d like to share that when (not if) someone were to ever say anything to you about a product you were using affecting them, that it isn’t about you, it’s about the ingredients that are used in the products, fragrances especially, that are a big problem. It’s not that one product is a better personal choice than another. To us, it would make no difference if it was a dollar store product or an exclusive designer product. They ALL have some allergenic and disabling ingredients now (maybe AXE more than others)

There can also be different types of reactions to fragranced products, ranging in severity from vague unpleasantness or headaches and nausea, to allergic reactions ranging in severity from mild to life threatening, the inability to think clearly or walk straight, even completely disabling (and totally life transforming) with recovery from exposures taking days to weeks to months, depending on total load.

Currently, none of us are given the choice to choose fragranced products based on safe ingredients. The ingredients are not on labels, they are trade secrets. The industry is self-regulated (no government or independent oversight), and the list of over 3000 disclosed ingredients includes some very harmful chemicals that are known to cause cancer or reproductive difficulties, neurotoxins that cause developmental and learning disorders, cognitive problems, asthmagens, allergens, hormone disruptors, the list goes on. They don’t advertise that, and they fight efforts to label them. If they affect your health, there’s no pill to take, avoidance is the medical advice that helps most, and repairing the damages is difficult, at best.

So it’s not about you, it’s about the ingredients and a particular person’s epigenetic bucket. Not one of us knows the point when we’ll reach toxic overload, or what kinds of health problems that will result in a specific person. Children are most at risk, and experts are advising pregnant women and children to avoid fragrance and other daily chemical exposures. Fragrance and chemical-free products are easy enough to find now. Please consider switching over, especially if you have children in your lives.

There’s more I could say (I could go on forever… as chemical exposures affect my brain and ability to communicate in ways that range from an inability to get a coherent sentence out, to an inability to stop and edit – if you know anyone with autism, it can be very similar) but I will stop now and get to the give-away.

I appreciate how kind and thoughtful you have all been, and I wish I had several ___ s to give.

What the chosen recipient said, the way he said it, would bring tears of joy to everyone who has ever been adversely impacted by the ingredients in everyday products and materials, and HAD to (not wanted to) ask someone to change something. It’s a response we don’t hear often enough (especially from family).

It was so immediate and unquestioning, and restores hope about mankind :-)

If more people valued life and health more than their products, I believe our society would be so much healthier and happier than we are now.

Thank you ____! I hope you have a lot of fun playing with your new ___! I’ll pm you with my address. And please don’t wear any cologne or aftershave when you come to pick it up.

One more time (cuz I love it so):

“I would stop using the product immediately. I cannot think of anything that I need in my life enough to continue using if it makes others around me sick.”

15 responses to “And The Winning Answer Is…

  1. Susan Felderman

    This is awesome ! Thanks :)

  2. Great idea and interesting replies ! Thank you for posting .Seems like a good way forward is to tell people – most people I mention it to also have a story . I also react to fragrances (synthetic) . Good to hear people would change. I also have a terrible reaction to washing powder so even if they don’t use perfume/aftershave I react to that. I am finding that’s a harder issue to address . Because people won’t have any clothes not washed in their brand of choice. I am also find proles homes have an heoverpowering smell of washing powder and I find it hard to stay there and breath – what to do ! Thank you for making me feel I am not alone .

    • You are definitely not alone!

      And the chemicals in laundry washing powders, liquids, softeners, and sheets are the kryptonites of my life!
      So many of us are locked into our homes, unable to go for walks, be in our backyards, or open our windows because the neighbors dryer vents were designed to emit moisture, not toxic chemicals…

      But for those not yet like us, it’s so important to take the precautions that can prevent further chemical injury, and that means stopping all the fragranced products, the soaps, cremes, lotions and potions, deodorants, shampoos, (these all come in fragrance free versions too!)…

      And quit the air “fresheners” and scented candles that just add more chemical contaminants to indoor air, covering up the stink that needs fresh air ventilation… Don’t turn your home or office into a slow toxic gas chamber, open a couple of windows!

      • Yes I agree ! I campaign against toxic chemicals in the hope that they will be banned. Many are endocrine disruptors – and much of the fragrances in washing powder ect come encapsulated or in nano form. So they continually off gas . I must admit I don’t know how people think they “smell nice” to me is vile ! Thank you for your posts this issue needs to be broadcast far and wide.

  3. Interesting replies. It’s sad though that most of the people didn’t make the connection that putting it on over the weekend might not harm that particular co-worker but might someone at the grocery store. I am heart-sick for the pregnant woman whose husband appears to care so little for her health or that of his children. I wish we could reward all of those who replied they have quit for another. They’re my heroes. <3

    • It’s astonishing how many people choose products over people… So yes, the ones who “get it” are truly to be celebrated these days!

      Another few interesting tid-bits…

      If a scent-sensitive admin had not been one of the first people who commented, I am sure that there would have been more comments, but they would not have been so polite… The group has over 1000 people in it. Had I not posed that question, I would have had at least 200 people interested in aquiring the object. I was kind of disappointed that so few were up to responding.

  4. Pingback: MCS WTH TED (Part 1) | Life in the City with a Future

  5. I have been searching for this:
    “There can also be different types of reactions to fragranced products, ranging in severity from vague unpleasantness or headaches and nausea, to allergic reactions ranging in severity from mild to life threatening, the inability to think clearly or walk straight, even completely disabling (and totally life transforming) with recovery from exposures taking days to weeks to months, depending on total load.”
    the word walk… cause once exposed I can’t walk.. finally a bit of validation something sought in doctors offices and never found… thanks
    Could I ask where you found this information? I would like to read it and copy it and keep it for my doctors ect. As apparently I am the only person affected this way that doctors have seen. I could use a bit of validation I can carry around with me should my walking become impaired. Thanks

  6. I don’t see a name for the person who posted The winning answer is… who is this?

  7. Ok my question to you is where did you see the word walk added to a list of symptoms as so far I am the only one I know who can’t walk when affected and I have never seen unable to walk on any symptom list.. if it is on a list some place that you have could you please copy it and put it here so I can copy it too. Doctors I have don’t think this walking issue is part of mcs… mind you there are not mcs doctors that I know of that I can see these are other doctors gps movement disorder doctors.

    • Those are my words, from my experiences and from online discussions, but the list in the CHRC document has a number of symptoms that indicate difficulty walking could be a result too:

      Feeling dull or groggy

      Lack of coordination or balance


      Joint and muscle pain in the extremities and/or back

      Muscle twitching or spasms

      Muscle weakness

      “Environmental sensitivities may affect every system in the body, so multiple symptoms are possible, with variation among individuals. Neurological symptoms are almost universal. Common incitants are summarised in Table 6 and symptoms are summarised in Table 7. The impact of environmental sensitivities on workers’ performance may range from mild (e.g. habituation to chronic exposures such that performance may be sub-optimal, although not “abnormal”) to severe impairment such that work is impossible. ”

      The document might be available at this link too (they keep changing the link every year or two, and sometimes the search function doesn’t bring it up)

      Environmental Sensitivities | Canadian Human Rights Commission

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