Here’s yet another example of a systemic issue regarding health harming accessibility barriers, happening in a province (and country) where we have Human Rights laws that recognize people with environmental ‘sensitivities’ as having a disability, and where everyone is encouraged to remove accessibility barriers instead of creating new ones.
Unsuspecting Oshawa Costco Canada shoppers are being subjected to this fragrance assault and/or accessibility barrier between November 26, 2019 and December 8, 2019.
In December, it appears that those who shop at Costco’s Ste Foy location will also be sprayed, without alternative accommodations made for member shoppers whose lives are harmed by this kind of thing (unless there’s a public outcry before it happens).
Not only is the store air thoroughly polluted by this kind of diffusion (as experienced by someone who reported it to their mother who has environmental sensitivities and is severely allergic to fragranced products) for the 2 week duration of this “special event”, but everything in their store(s), *including food*, will also have absorbed substantial residues of undisclosed (and not food-safe) fragrance substances, that may be difficult if not impossible to remove.
This ‘special event’ can cause significant harm to people with asthma, autism, chemical and environmental sensitivities, fragrance allergies, migraines, and mast cell activation syndrome (to name a few). Even 2nd and 3rd hand residues of this type can cause serious (and life-threatening) health problems and long lasting disabling effects, so a suggestion of having someone else do the shopping is not a reasonable or feasible accommodation.
See below for the product details and the store manager’s and assistant manager’s responses when called.
Those of us who have been harmed by fragranced products (artificial, synthetic, natural, pure, therapeutic, and organic), and experience barriers to accessing basic services, including food, especially food, find this kind of situation where frivolous and harmful accessibility barriers are created to be inexcusable.
They really should know better now, when so many people are adversely affected that scent or fragrance-free signs are postered around like wallpaper! But maybe that’s a part of the problem too. Policies that aren’t enforced trivialize the need for said policies, much like the word ‘sensitivities’ trivializes the nature of this disability.
There’s also the related issue of promoting products that make dangerous and unscientific claims. This leads people to think the claims must be true and the products must be safe, when there’s no safety department testing the products, no regulatory department aware of the ingredients, no independent scientific or medical body validating that product claims are true.
Have a look at the images and product benefit claims (screenshots from the product’s website). It’s total BS except for one. The only truthful section is “Perfuming the Home” (but with what fragrance substances is not disclosed).
Text is copied below for those who can’t see images:
What is (nameless diffuser) Good For?
The (nameless diffuser) is an innovative system that cleanses the air in your home and provides a long-lasting fragrance. The (nameless diffuser) features the AIR PR System 3C(R) burner which diffuses fragrances throughout the room.
Improving Air Quality
The (nameless diffuser) has an unrivalled purifying & fragrancing power. The (nameless diffuser) actually eliminates odour-causing molecules in the air through the process of catalytic oxidation. Increase oxygen level.
How it breaks Down Molecules
The (nameless diffuser) features a ceramic catalytic burner with platinum around its outer edge. The odour-causing molecules are actually attracted to the heat generated by the catalysis and then broken down and prevented from recombining.
Environmental Hygiene Benefits
Eliminate bacteria, unpleasant odours of any kind such as cooking odours, decomposes second hand smoke and improve the overall air quality, leaving you refreshed & rejuvenated. Effective insect repellent such as dust mites, mosquitoes, fleas, ants & other insects.
Perfuming the Home
Perfume your home with any of the fragrances offered by (nameless diffuser). By burning a (nameless diffuser) for just 20 to 30 minutes, you can add fragrance to your home for hours.
Choosing a Fragrance for Diffusion
The fragrances offered by (nameless diffuser) contain Isopropanol, osmosed water, and natural and synthetic concentrates that contribute to the olfactory diffusion of the oil. Choose from the wide selection of scents available and freshen any room.”
Adding VOCs to the air does not freshen or purify the air.
“Beyond their immediate effects, VOCs react with other molecules in the air, such as oxygen and nitrogen oxides, to generate ozone as well as fine particulate matter. (Those nitrogen oxides come, in large part, from vehicle exhaust.) High levels of fine particulate matter make it hard to breathe and contribute to chronic lung problems (SN: 9/30/17, p. 18). And while ozone high in the atmosphere helps shield Earth from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, at ground level, it mixes with fine particulates to form breath-choking smog.”
“Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from products such as shampoo, perfume and cleaning solutions eventually escape outside and contribute to ozone and fine particle formation, making up an even greater source of global atmospheric air pollution than cars and trucks do.”
“When people are out and about, they leave plumes of chemicals behind them — from both car tailpipes and the products they put on their skin and hair. In fact, emissions of siloxane, a common ingredient in shampoos, lotions, and deodorants, are comparable in magnitude to the emissions of major components of vehicle exhaust, such as benzene, from rush-hour traffic.”
There’s the issue of how many people are already adversely affected:
Overall, 34.7 % of the population reported health problems when exposed to fragranced products.
72.6 % were not aware that even so-called natural, green, and organic fragranced products typically emit hazardous air pollutants.
Further, 15.1 % have lost workdays or a job due to fragranced product exposure in the workplace.
Check out these posters from that same web page:
Their product protects your loved ones from DENGUE???
So many medical and air cleaning claims
that are pure BS and should be illegal.
Back to human rights based on disability:
Disability (Ontario Human Rights Commission)
The Code protects people from discrimination and harassment because of past, present and perceived disabilities.
“Disability” covers a broad range and degree of conditions, some visible and some not visible. A disability may have been present from birth, caused by an accident, or developed over time.
There are physical, mental and learning disabilities, mental disorders,
hearing or vision disabilities, epilepsy, mental health disabilities and addictions,
***environmental sensitivities***, and other conditions.
Policy on ableism and discrimination based on disability
Policy on environmental sensitivities
(Canadian Human Rights Commission)
…”The CHRC encourages employers and service providers to proactively address issues of accommodation by ensuring that their workplaces and facilities are accessible for persons with a wide range of disabilities.
Successful accommodation for persons with environmental sensitivities requires innovative strategies to minimize or eliminate exposure to triggers in the environment. These may include: developing and enforcing fragrance free and chemical avoidance policies”…
Side note – it’s already impossible to get baking soda from Costco that does not smell like carpet cleaner or laundry products. Adding more fragrance will ruin what was left in the store that people could safely consume. Organic food will no longer be organic! Fragranced products are NOT food safe for anyone, and can be disabling and deadly for people with allergies and sensitivities.
This kind of BS, assault, pollution, and food contamination needs to stop!
CLEAN HAS NO SMELL!
Fragranced products are accessibility barriers
and public health hazards!
…”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.” …
Essential oils are NOT a safe or benign substitute, even the organic, pure, therapeutic ones. They ALL emit hazardous VOCs, cause pollution, and can be as life threatening as synthetic or artificial fragrances. Essential oils are not appropriate for use in public spaces, or in ways that stick to you when you go out!
Say no to accessibility barriers and public health harm!
If you want this to stop, call Costco, but try to get head office or the person in charge of accessibility, as the store manager does not care:
Costco.ca Customer Service….1-888-426-7826
Call Monday to Friday: 9am to 9pm EST
Call Saturday and Sunday: 9am to 5pm EST
Ontario has the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
If you encounter accessibility barriers and bad attitudes, let them know!!
Please contact the AODA Contact Centre (ServiceOntario):
TTY: 416-325-3408 / Toll-free 1-800-268-7095
or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“You may also wish to seek independent legal advice
on your particular situation.”
~ Ontario Accessibility
In Ontario, the “Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC) offers human rights legal services to individuals throughout Ontario who have experienced discrimination contrary to Ontario’s Human Rights Code. Our services may include legal assistance in filing applications at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO), and legal representation at mediations and hearings.
You have the right to be free from discrimination and harassment in your job, facilities and services (shops, restaurants, transit, hospitals, schools and other public places), housing, contracts, and membership in unions or vocational associations.
The HRLSC has partnerships with lawyers, legal clinics and other community-based service partners in communities across Ontario. We will make every effort to provide an appropriate service to you in your community.”
Costco Oshawa’s response:
When the store was called on Friday evening, the assistant manager told someone that she has never heard of fragrance being an issue, and to call the manager on Saturday.
When the store manager was called on Saturday, this is what happened:
“I just got off the phone with (name redacted), the manager of Costco Oshawa. This man is rude! It’s all about money. I told him having these road show vendors selling products Costco does not normally carry is going against Costco’s own accessibility commitment to me as a member and even his staff. No matter what I said, he didn’t get it.
I told him that anaphylaxis and MCS are recognized under the Human Rights Code as a disability. Allowing these vendors to fill the store covering other products and food makes buying anything impossible.
He said he’s sorry I have this allergy but people come in the store wearing perfume. Again he didn’t get it.
He said there are so many allergies that to accommodate them all he wouldn’t be able to make money. I told him nowhere on the website tells me that these other perfumers were there and had I walked in I would have gone into anaphylactic shock and possibly died.
He didn’t care. The bottom line is making money. He also said none of his staff have complained to which I said I understand because he isn’t a manager who would care.
I told him I have posted to MCS sites of thousands of people. I asked who in head office I could speak to and he said they would just send me back to him. So that’s how Costco protects itself. I even told him that I can’t use his washrooms because of the air fresheners and when I complained I was told to use the toilet in the tire Centre .
In the US stores I’ve been in they do not have scent in their washrooms but also having to use the tire centre toilet is degrading to me.
He didn’t care.”
I really hope this particular store’s member contacts a lawyer, and makes a human rights claim, as it seems that is the only way some people will address accessibility barriers.
Isn’t it beyond time to care about lives
at least as much as people care about products and money?
I think we should care more about life than about products and money, but come on people, it seems too many still think money and products are more important…
We have a mass extinction event going on, along with a growing population of people with all kinds of chronic health problems and epigenetic changes that will make it harder for future generations to survive an increasingly unstable world.
Human canaries, people with chemical and environmental sensitivities, are being disabled and experiencing a growing number of barriers to survival, barriers that affect everyone eventually.
Barriers that are easy to remove once you get over the attitude that a product with fragrance is more important than someone’s ability to stay alive, to access food and other services, to have a life that is free of pain and suffering inflicted by unnecessary products and materials.
There are effective, non-toxic, fragrance-free products available!
If you aren’t fragrance-free yet, and don’t report to work or appointments regularly where you have to be fragrance/scent-free (yet), it’s easy to just replace each personal care, laundry, and cleaning product as it runs out, and also stop using scented candles and diffusers at home if you want your air to be healthy for you and your family, and save money! This is also a very good and caring way to stop being a walking, talking accessibility barrier for others.