All it takes is a decision to go fragrance-free!
It should be easier than quitting smoking since there aren’t supposed to be addictive chemicals in fragrances, right?
Due to the fact that so many people are now experiencing adverse effects from fragranced products (34.7% in 2016), we are well on the way to having fragrance-free policies everywhere for the sake of protecting public health just as was done with smoking bans. It’s not just those of us who suffer immediate and disabling adverse effects from the products (1st, 2nd, and 3rd hand), but for everyone.
Here are some great resources (in no particular order) to help you go fragrance-free:
For event planning
It’s important to be inclusive from the beginning and reinforce it on all communications. If accessibility isn’t included at the beginning stages, people will miss it and you and your events will not be safe or accessible.
Accessible Meetings Guide (also) Addresses Chemical and Electrical Sensitivities
3 Steps to Organizing A Fragrance Free Event
3 Steps to Organizing A Fragrance Free Event
*** Some excellent info, including lots of product options from the East Bay Meditation Center:
Why be … How to be… List of Products… and More…
For visitors or caregivers
How to be fragrance-free by Peggy Munson:
MCS House Rules
(I’ve just been informed that this link isn’t working for everyone, so I’ve uploaded a copy of the PDF here> MCS House Rules from MCS Advocacy)
MCS Visitors Guidelines
for visiting people with more severe MCS/ES
Remember light cigarettes and non-smoking sections?
Some people think there’s a cost barrier. These days, many fragrance-free products cost the same as other products. Some products we can totally do without when we switch to natural cleaning products like baking soda and non-GMO vinegar.
Please do try to avoid the big brand name counterparts (like TIDE and Bounce) as many of those are just as toxic and harmful to ‘sensitive’ people as the fragranced versions! Dry less and use dryer balls (wool is healthier than plastic – but do NOT use tennis balls or balls of foil)
EWG has guides for cosmetics and cleaning products that offer a good start (although not an end all be all) regarding the safety of disclosed ingredients in thousands of products available all over North America (and elsewhere). Unfortunately they (and Made Safe) certify or verify essential oils as being safe. They are not. Essential oils are NOT appropriate in fragrance-free environments.
When you start going fragrance-free for your own sake (and not because of a policy) then each time you run out of a product, just replace it with a fragrance-free product. Read the labels for hidden ingredients. Common words to watch out for include ‘fragrance’, ‘parfum’, ‘aroma’, and ‘essential oils’. Avoid those.
Sadly (or criminally), some unscrupulous manufacturers hide fragrance ingredients under their chemical names, most likely as a way to gaslight the people who suffer adverse effects from them, as the people who buy them will say “but I’m not wearing any fragrance – I checked!” while the folks who are adversely affected suffer from the exposures PLUS the anger and incredulity.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you stop on the way to go shopping or visit someplace where they sell or use fragranced products, air “fresheners”, scented candles, etc, then the VOCs will have settled in your hair and clothing just like smoke from smoky rooms, and you will no longer be fragrance-free.
Here’s an example of how a health-harm-reduction policy could be written and enforced (once they add laundry products and essential oils to the list):
All persons who work in, attend as patients of, or visit Kingston General Hospital, have an obligation to help maintain a scent-free environment.
“All staff, patients, and visitors will:
Refrain from wearing cologne, perfume, scented personal care products such as body lotions, sprays, and powders, scented deodorant and hair care products, and aftershave lotions (add , laundry products, and essential oils); avoid bringing in scented flowers including but not limited to: Freesias, Lilacs, lavenders, lilies (including day, tiger, Easter Lilies, lily of the valley, and star gazers), Hyacinth and Peonies; refrain from bringing scented air fresheners or personal hand lotions from home.
Fragrance –free hand lotions are available at the hospital.
Staff will advise all persons entering the hospital about the scent-free policy and educate all persons entering the facility about the health effects of scented products.
Patients who are wearing scented products may be asked to wash and/or change their clothing.
Visitors who wear scented products will be asked to leave.
Security will be involved as needed.
Staff who are wearing scented products may be asked to leave the area, wash, and/or change their clothing.
Staff who show disregard for the scent-free policy will face appropriate disciplinary action.
Suppliers will be notified of our policy and our mandate to purchase scent free products wherever possible.
The public will be advised of our policy through the media, and other venues such as appointment requisitions, and scent free signage posted throughout the hospital.”
…”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.” …
Ontario Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability
Excellent article, particularly like how you point out that even if you are fragrance free, you cease to be if you spend time around scented people and products.
Thank you Margaret.
I know people who have really made an effort, only for things to go south because they’d been shopping or somewhere fragranced.
Totally reminded me of coming home reeking of smoke some days… way back when…
what a great resource. thank you!
Here are a couple of downloadable document front door/window signs that can be altered to suit individual needs:
More signs here:
Others in fragranced environments are also exposed to high levels of these harmful pollutants, and if you walk through fragranced places, you will carry the molecules on your skin and clothing where they will continue to affect yourself and others, including those yet to be born:
Cosmetic and perfume sales staff exposed to high phthalate levels
Exposure poses potential risks for pregnant women working in retail
Women of reproductive age could be exposing themselves to harm by working on retail cosmetics and perfume counters. Researchers found higher levels of phthalates in these workers in Taiwan and warn that this can pose health risks, particularly for pregnant women.
‘We suggest indoor air quality of phthalates should be re-evaluated, and reproductive-age women should work in other departments to reduce the risk, especially for those pregnant workers,’ says Huang. Woodruff suggests reformulation of cosmetics would be a better approach.
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In October, the fragrance industry added approximately 750 ingredients to the list of chemicals that go into making up perfumes & scented products — including some VERY troubling additions …
How to Make Your Social Justice Events Accessible to the Disability Community: A Checklist
Also, they pollute the outdoor air more than cars!!!
This is yet another reason why fragrance-free policies are a great idea: reducing pollution for everyone as well as removing accessibility barriers for people who are disabled from exposures to fragranced products!
Volatile chemical products emerging as largest petrochemical source of urban organic emissions
Household products make surprisingly large contributions to air pollution
Consumer products might be next target for air pollution cleanup
Everyday products like these emit a bouquet of volatile organic compounds that contribute to air pollution. A spritz of perfume or a spray of disinfectant has a small effect, but frequent use of these products by millions of people adds up to a big impact.
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Here’s another resource some of you may find helpful.
Alison Johnson’s 2018 version of the Fragrance-Free Workplaces is now available on vimeo and to purchase as a dvd.
This film featuring Multiple Chemical Sensitivity can be purchased on http://www.alisonjohnsonmcs.com. Please visit that website to donate online a few dollars or a larger amount so that we can afford to continue letting people worldwide watch the film at no charge. Further information about Multiple Chemical Sensitivity can be found on the website http://www.chemicalsensitivityfoundation.org.
She has apparently already provided the video to all 40 Senators in California as well as 80 members of the California Assembly.
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Fragrance Free Wedding
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