Forced Perfume Exposures
You may remember the famous case of Susan McBride, the worker in Detroit who won a $100,000 settlement in 2010 with the City of Detroit because they failed to accommodate her allergy to perfume and other scented products. McBride proved a co-worker’s excessive use of perfume and air fresheners made her sick and made it difficult for her to breathe, and after her superiors did nothing to accommodate the complaint, she sued the city and won. These toxins actually make all of us sick to some degree but we are constantly bombarded by them anyways without our permission. Cologne, perfume, fragrance infused deodorant, scented lotions, artificially scented candles, plug-in toxic air fresheners and room sprays are used in many public areas and workplaces. What can we do to protect ourselves from these forced perfume exposures?
The culture has been infused with expensive perfumes, colognes and synthetic fragrances in many forms and it continues to be a billion dollar industry. You can spend hundreds of dollars on a popular bottle of synthetic fragrance. It is believed to be a status symbol and associated with the lifestyle of the rich and famous. The more expensive perfume you wear, the more fashionable and chic you must be. Unfortunately these over-priced perfumes have a much deeper cost, containing toxic chemicals that should not be on your skin or in your airways. According to Safecosmetics.org more than 900 of the 3000 ingredients used in perfumes are toxic. Many synthetic ingredients found in today’s perfumes are allergens and are very hazardous to your health.
Research of these chemical compounds show that almost any perfume is a potential threat to our health and the consistent use of perfumes or exposure to others perfumes can cause allergic reactions, irritation of the respiratory tract, act as hormone disruptions, can cause sperm damage and severe headaches.
According to one study, American Eagle Seventy Seven has 24 hidden chemicals and Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio has 19 chemicals associated with allergies and asthma. And perfume companies continue to get away with these hidden and potentially dangerous chemicals as “trade secrets” and only have to list the word “fragrance” so as to not reveal their secret formula or the nasty stuff they have in them.
Fragrance in the workplace has become the new secondhand smoke. Both are about indoor air quality and public health. Secondhand smoke affects the lungs and can cause cancer; synthetic fragrances affect the nervous system and can cause debilitating headaches, nausea, joint pain and respiratory discomfort.
These conditions are much worse for people with multiple chemical sensitivity and these individuals can also suffer from symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, congestion, sore throat, chest pain, diarrhea and breathing problems, all due to the chemicals found in personal care products and especially those that are prone to be airborne such as fragrances.
It is reported in the Journal of Management and Marketing Research that one in five people in the U.S. are negatively affected from exposure to fragrance. “Fragrance is a known respiratory irritant and neurological toxin,” writes researcher Christy De Vader of Loyola University of Maryland. “For many people, such as those exposed to asthma, exposure to perfume can pose serious health risks such as migraines, nausea, tightening of the throat, and respiratory impairment.” If you already suffer from hay fever and asthma, smelling synthetic fragrance can make it worse. The continuous use of perfume can cause bronchial spasms, even more prominent in those already suffering from asthma.
So what can we do to stop the madness? Ask co-workers to consider not wearing perfume to the workplace and educate those you work with about the risk to them and to you. Sign petitions such as those started at Care2.com, EWG.org and Change.org. If you feel like you are a victim of forced perfume exposures or other toxic chemicals and have had damage to your health, contact a lawyer that specializes in toxic exposures. You have the right to a safe workplace. Let’s continue to raise awareness and tackle one place at a time. If you go to a business that has synthetic plug ins drop off a flyer and recommend they instead use pure natural fragrances such as essential oils or flower essences.
Related Blog: 5 Great Reasons for Diffusing Essential Oils