Full Text of the Latest Australian Fragrance Study by Professor Anne Steinemann—for Translation Purposes

Health and societal effects from exposure to fragranced consumer products

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Anne Steinemann

Department of Infrastructure Engineering, Melbourne School of Engineering, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia College of Science, Technology and Engineering, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia Climate, Atmospheric Sciences, and Physical Oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

Article Information

Article history: Received 25 September 2016 Received in revised form 5 November 2016 Accepted 12 November 2016 Available online 14 November 2016

Abstract

Fragranced consumer products—such as air fresheners, cleaning supplies, and personal care products— pervade society. This study investigated the occurrence and types of adverse effects associated with exposure to fragranced products in Australia, and opportunities for prevention. Data were collected in June 2016 using an online survey with a representative national sample (n = 1098). Overall, 33% of Australians report health problems, such as migraine headaches and asthma attacks, when exposed to fragranced products. Of these health effects, more than half (17.1%) could be considered disabling under the Australian Disability Discrimination Act. Additionally, 7.7% of Australians have lost workdays or a job due to illness from fragranced product exposure in the workplace, 16.4% reported health problems when exposed to air fresheners or deodorizers, 15.3% from being in a room after it was cleaned with scented products, and 16.7% would enter but then leave a business as quickly as possible due to fragranced products. About twice as many respondents would prefer that workplaces, health care facilities and professionals, hotels, and airplanes were fragrance-free rather than fragranced. While 73.7% were not aware that fragranced products, even ones called green and organic, emitted hazardous air pollutants, 56.3% would not continue to use a product if they knew it did. This is the first study in Australia to assess the extent of adverse effects associated with exposure to common fragranced products. It provides compelling evidence for the importance and value of reducing fragranced product exposure in order to reduce and prevent adverse health effects and costs.

1. Introduction

Contrary to popular belief, most exposure to hazardous pollutants that affect health and wellbeing occurs indoors (Ott et al., 2007; Brown, 2007). A primary source of these indoor pollutants and exposures is common fragranced consumer products, such as air fresheners, cleaning products, laundry supplies, and personal care products (Cheng et al., 2015; Nazaroff and Weschler, 2004; Steinemann et al., 2011). Exposure to fragranced products has been associated with a range of adverse human health effects, including migraine headaches, contact dermatitis, asthma attacks, respiratory difficulties, and mucosal symptoms (e.g., Kelman, 2004; Caress and Steinemann, 2009; Elberling et al., 2005; Millqvist et al., 1999; Johansen, 2003; Kumar et al., 1995). In two previous surveys, Caress and Steinemann (2009) found that 17.5% and 20.5% of the general US population (between 2002–3 and 2005–6 respectively) reported breathing difficulties, headaches, or other health problems when exposed to air fresheners and deodorizers. Fragranced consumer products emit dozens of different volatile compounds, including terpenes (e.g., limonene, alpha-pinene, and beta-pinene) that are primary pollutants, and that react with ozone to generate secondary pollutants such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde (Nazaroff and Weschler, 2004). Even so-called green and organic fragranced products emit hazardous pollutants, similar to regular fragranced products. Little information exists, however, on potentially hazardous compounds emitted from fragranced products, in part because products are not required to disclose all ingredients (Steinemann, 2015). Thus, knowledge of potential exposures and effects is essential to effective risk reduction. This study investigates the occurrence and types of exposures to fragranced products and associated health and societal effects in the Australian population. Further, it investigates the potential for preventive measures, such as fragrance-free policies, to reduce health risks and costs.

2. Methods

An on-line survey was conducted of the adult Australian population, using a national random sample representative of age, gender, and state (n = 1098, 95% confidence level with a 3% margin of error). The survey instrument, a 35 item questionnaire, was developed and tested over a two-year period, including cognitive testing with 10 individuals and piloting with over 100 individuals, before full implementation in June 2016. The survey drew upon participants from a large web-based Australian panel (over 200,000 people) held by Survey Sampling Interna- tional. Participant recruitment followed a randomized process (SSI, 2016) with an open invitation, rather than a direct invite, to the pool of panelists available at the time. The pool was filtered to achieve a representative sample through a set of initial questions for basic demographic characteristics. All responses were anonymous. Average survey completion time was approximately 10 min. Survey response rate was 93%. Only completed questionnaires were included in the final data analysis. The research study received ethics approval from the University of Melbourne. Details of the survey methodology, as well as statistical analyses of questionnaire data and for results summa- rized below, are provided as supplemental documents. The questionnaire investigated both personal and public exposure to fragranced products, health effects related to exposures, impacts of fragrance exposure in the workplace and in public places, awareness of fragranced product ingredients and labeling, preferences for fragrance-free environments and policies, and demographic information. The questionnaire provided one question on each page, with multiple choice and open format answers; five sets of questions were randomized for their multiple choice items, and eight questions were condition- ally displayed based on responses to other items. Data were collected and analyzed in June 2016. Fragranced consumer products were investigated in the following categories: (a) Air fresheners and deodorizers; (b) Personal care prod- ucts; (c) Cleaning supplies; (d) Laundry products; (e) Household prod- ucts; (f) Fragrance; and (g) Other. Health effects were investigated in the following categories: (a) Migraine headaches; (b) Asthma attacks; (c) Neurological problems; (d) Respiratory problems; (e) Skin prob- lems; (f) Cognitive problems; (g) Mucosal symptoms; (h) Immune system problems; (i) Gastrointestinal problems; (j) Cardiovascular problems; (k) Musculoskeletal problems; (j) Other health problems. The categories of fragranced products and health effects were developed from prior studies (Steinemann, 2015; Caress and Steinemann, 2009; Miller and Prihoda, 1999), and pre-tested and piloted with over 100 individuals, including health care professionals, before full survey implementation.

3. Results

Overall, 98.5% of the Australian population is exposed to fragranced products at least once a week from either their own use (98%), others’ use (88.1%), or both. From their own use, 66.8% are exposed to air fresheners and deodorizers at least once a week; 91.6% personal care prod- ucts; 83.2% cleaning supplies; 84.3% laundry products; 77.1% household products; 69.6% fragrance; 2.3% other. From others’ use, 50.8% are exposed to air fresheners and deodorizers at least once a week; 61.5% personal care products; 50.7% cleaning supplies; 44.3% laundry products; 49.6% household products; 67.8% fragrance; 1.8% other. Importantly, 33% of the general population reported one or more types of health problems associated with exposure to one or more types of fragranced products. The most common types of adverse health effects were as follows: 16.7% of the population reported respiratory problems; 14.0% mucosal symptoms; 10.0% migraine headaches; 9.5% skin problems; 7.6% asthma attacks; 4.5% neurological problems; 4.1% cognitive problems; 3.3% gastrointestinal problems; 3.3% immune system problems; 3.0% cardiovascular problems; 2.6% musculoskeletal problems; and 1.9% other. When exposed to air fresheners or deodorizers, 16.4% experience health problems; these include respiratory problems (9.1%), mucosal symptoms (6.2%), skin problems (4.8%), asthma attacks (4.5%), mi- graine headaches (4.2%), neurological problems (2.2%), among other adverse effects. In addition, in other types of exposure situations, 15.3% reported health problems from being in a room after it was cleaned with scented products, 6.1% from the scent of laundry products from dryer vents, and 19.4% from being near someone wearing a fragranced product. For 17.1% of the population, the severity of the health problems was reported to “result in a total or partial loss of bodily or mental functions,” which is a criterion for determining disability under the Australia Disability Discrimination Act (DDA, 1992). Fragranced products also hindered access in society. Of the general population, 11.6% are unable or reluctant to use the toilets in a public place, because of the presence of an air freshener, deodorizer, or scented product. Also, 10.3% are unable or reluctant to wash their hands with soap in a public place, because they know or suspect that the soap is fragranced. Further, 15.0% have been prevented from going to some place because they would be exposed to a fragranced product that would make them sick. Interestingly, 16.7% of the population reported that if they enter a business, and smell air fresheners or some fragranced product, they want to leave as quickly as possible. Finally, 7.7% have lost work days or a job (in the past 12 months) due to exposures to fragranced products in the workplace.

Fragranced products emit a range of chemicals, including hazardous air pollutants, but ingredients do not need to be fully disclosed on the product label or material safety data sheet. Even so-called green and or ganic fragranced products can emit hazardous pollutants, similar to reg- ular products (Steinemann, 2015). Of the population surveyed, 47.2% were not aware that a “fragrance” in a product is typically a chemical mixture of several dozen to several hundred chemicals, 68.6% were not aware that fragrance chemicals do not need to be fully disclosed on the product label or material safety data sheet, 68.9% were not aware that fragranced products typically emit hazardous air pollutants such as formaldehyde, and 73.7% were not aware that even so-called natural, green, and organic fragranced products typically emit hazard- ous air pollutants. However, 56.3% would not still use a fragranced product if they knew it emitted hazardous air pollutants.

Fragrance-free indoor environments received widespread support. Of the general population, 42.8% would be supportive of a fragrance- free policy in the workplace (compared with 22.2% that would not), 43.2% would prefer that health care facilities and health care professionals be fragrance-free (compared with 25.2% that would not). Also, 57.7% would prefer flying on an airplane without scented air pumped through the passenger cabin (compared with 16.3% with scented air), and 55.6% would prefer staying in a hotel without fragranced air (com- pared with 22.7% with fragranced air).

4. Discussion

The problem of fragranced products is sweeping Australia and other countries, resulting in adverse health effects, lost workdays, and inability to access public places, such as restrooms and businesses. While the use of fragranced products may be premised on that they improve in- door air quality, the contrary is actually the case; that is, fragranced products emit and generate a complex mixture of chemical pollutants, including carcinogenic hazardous air pollutants, but nearly all are undis- closed. While further research is needed to better understand which chemicals and mixtures are associated with the effects, what is known is that the products are reportedly causing adverse effects in a sizeable (33%) percentage of the population. Further, the effects can be immedi- ate, severe, and potentially disabling. Important implications for prevention arise from this study. First, for workplaces and other environments, fragrance-free policies would be a logical step, benefiting employees, employers, and the public. Such policies have been implemented in workplaces, schools, hospitals, and public and private buildings around the world. As an example, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Indoor Environmental Quality Policy (CDC, 2009) states that “Scented or fragranced products are prohibited at all times in all interior space owned, rented, or leased by CDC.” Second, for individuals, fragranced products can be removed from use, or swapped out for fragrance-free products with similar functionality.

A fragrance in a product is not intended to clean the air or reduce air pollutants. Thus, it could be asked whether the perceived benefits of use are dwarfed by the costs to personal and public health.

Third, for businesses, fragranced products may actually repel more cus- tomers than attract, as well as create potential liability; e.g., the use of air fresheners in a business can cause potentially disabling effects in customers. Fourth, for medical professionals and patients, when faced with health problems such as headaches, respiratory difficulties, mucosal symptoms, rashes, asthma, and others, consider the possibility that fragranced products could be a contributor. 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.

5. Conclusion

This study found that common fragranced products can trigger adverse effects throughout the Australian population, with consequences for public health, workplaces, businesses, and societal wellbeing. It also indicates that some relatively straightforward and inexpensive approaches, such as fragrance-free policies, could not only reduce health risks but also increase revenues and societal access. While research is needed to fully understand why fragranced products are associated with a range of adverse health effects, and in a substantial portion of the population, it is important to take steps in the meantime to reduce or eliminate exposure for prevention and public health.

Conflicts of interest

None.

Acknowledgments

I thank Amy Davis and Jim Repace for their very helpful reviews of this article. I also thank Amy Davis, Jim Repace, Alison Johnson, John Branco, Susan Felderman, Claudia Miller, Rudy Rodolfo, Lynn Heilbrun, Robert Damiano, Taylor Williams for their valuable reviews of the survey and results. The research received funding from Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub, at the University of Melbourne, through the Australia Department of the Environment. Finally, I thank the staff of Survey Sampling International for their superb work.

References

Brown, S.K., 2007. Indoor Air Quality, Australia: State of the Environment Technical Paper Series (Atmosphere). Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, Canberra. Caress, S.M., Steinemann, A.C., 2009. Prevalence of fragrance sensitivity in the American population. J. Environ. Health 71 (7), 46–50. CDC, 2009. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Indoor Environmental Quality Policy, pages. :pp. 9–10 Available:. http://www.drsteinemann.com/Resources/CDC% 20Indoor%20Environmental%20Quality%20Policy.pdf. Cheng, M., Galbally, I.E., Molloy, S.B., et al., 2015. Factors controlling volatile organic com- pounds in dwellings in Melbourne, Australia. Indoor Air 26 (2), 219–230. DDA, 1992. Australian Disability Discrimination Act, Australian Government. Act No. 135 of 1992. Availalble at:. https://www.legislation.gov.au/Series/C2004A04426. Elberling, J., Linneberg, A., Dirksen, A., et al., 2005. Mucosal symptoms elicited by fra- grance products in a population-based sample in relation to atopy and bronchial hyper-reactivity. Clin. Exp. Allergy 35 (1), 75–81. Johansen, J.D., 2003. Fragrance contact allergy: a clinical review. Am. J. Clin. Dermatol. 4 (11), 789–798. Kelman, L., 2004. Osmophobia and taste abnormality in migraineurs: a tertiary care study. Headache 44 (10), 1019–1023. Kumar, P., Caradonna-Graham, V.M., Gupta, S., Cai, X., Rao, P.N., Thompson, J., 1995. Inha- lation challenge effects of perfume scent strips in patients with asthma. Ann. Allergy Asthma Immunol. 75 (5), 429–433. Miller, C.S., Prihoda, T.J., 1999. The environmental exposure and sensitivity inventory (EESI): a standardized approach for measuring chemical intolerances for research and clinical applications. Toxicol. Ind. Health 15 (34), 370–385. Millqvist, E., Bengtsson, U., Löwhagen, O., 1999. Provocations with perfume in the eyes in- duce airway symptoms in patients with sensory hyperreactivity. Allergy 54 (5), 495–499. Nazaroff, W.W., Weschler, C.J., 2004. Cleaning products and air fresheners: exposure to primary and secondary air pollutants. Atmos. Environ. 38, 2841–2865. Ott, W., Steinemann, A., Wallace, L. (Eds.), 2007. Exposure Analysis. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. SSI (Survey Sampling International), 2016. Dynamix Sampling Approach.Available at:. https://www.surveysampling.com/technology/ssi-dynamix/ (accessed August 3, 2016). Steinemann, A., 2015. Volatile emissions from common consumer products. Air Qual. Atmos. Health 8 (3), 273–281. Steinemann, A.C., MacGregor, I.C., Gordon, S.M., et al., 2011. Fragranced consumer prod- ucts: chemicals emitted, ingredients unlisted. Environ. Impact Assess. Rev. 31 (3), 328–333.

E-mail address: anne.steinemann@unimelb.edu.au.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.11.011 2211-3355/© 2016 Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Fragrance Free School Policies

As most of my readers know, I completed my Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing at Victoria University (VU) in 2014. (I’m going back in 2017 to begin the swiss-army-knife of all degrees, An Arts Degree!) There is no Fragrance Free Policy in place at this time as far as I know. However, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before there is one protecting those of us who suffer respiratory issues with chemical irritants from fragrance, aerosols and solvents.

But for now, VU does a great job at including those of us who have allergies and sensitivities.

I’ve heard feedback from other students at VU who have said how pleasant it is to be able to learn in an environment where there is clean air; and I’ve heard from students and staff who have milder allergies to perfumes (and skin conditions that get inflamed from aerosol solvents in the air) but have not wanted to speak up, and these kind people have thanked me for doing so, which is so lovely to hear! (Whew! I was starting to feel like a troublemaker there, just for a second.) Trust me, if I didn’t suffer the symptoms that I do, I wouldn’t bother registering with Victoria University Disability Services (VUDS) and working out an ‘Access Plan [yes, I promised I would post information this, and I will as soon as I can]’ so that I can go to classes, sit tests and access my work and materials the same as other students: if I didn’t have this medical condition, I’d just go to class like everyone else. 

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Below is a list of Schools, Colleges, and Universities that do have them in place. These are all in the US and Canada, which is where some staff at VU sourced information helping me get through classes. Hopefully, my learning place of choice, my beloved Victoria University in Australia, will be on this list one day. Until then, I’ll just be grateful for the accomodations they do make for students such as myself; and, totally!, be grateful for the ‘No ‘Smoking on Campus’ policies that are being implemented in all Australian Universities. 

The following list is from Dr Anne Steinemann. You can find out about other institutions who also have fragrance free polices in place here.

Schools, Colleges, and Universities
Portland State University, Portland, OR
http://www.pdx.edu/hr/fragrance-free-value-statement 

Minnesota Schools H.F. No. 2148, as introduced – 85th Legislative Session (2007-2008) Fragrance Free Schools Pilot, Minnesota House of Representatives
http://www.leg.state.mn.us/docs/2008/mandated/080128.pdf
https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bin/bldbill.php?bill=H2148.0.html&session=ls85 

North Seattle Community College, Seattle, WA
https://northseattle.edu/policies/indoor-air-quality 

Bastr University, Kenmore, WA
http://www.bastyr.edu/admissions/visit/#nonav 

Challenge Charter School, Glendale, AZ
http://www.challengecharterschool.net/schoolinfo/policies/environmental/ 

Arthouse Preschool, Waunakee, WI
http://www.arthousepreschool.com/Content/Forms/Fragrance%20Free%20Policy.pdf 

Cecil College, North East, MD
http://www.cecil.edu/about/policies/fragrance-free.asp

The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA
http://www.evergreen.edu/conference/policies.htm

McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/safetyoffice/documents/ScentAwarenessGuidelinesApr04.pdf 

Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, NS, Canada
http://www.msvu.ca/en/home/aboutus/WhatsHappening/scent_free/default.aspx

New Brunswick Board of Education, School District 8, Saint John, NB, Canada
http://web1.nbed.nb.ca/sites/district8/aboutus/policies/District%208%20Policies/Scent%20Free%20Environment.pdf
http://www.district8.nbed.nb.ca/district8policy/pages/series800.htm#8056

University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
http://www.ehs.utoronto.ca/resources/HSGuide/Scent.htm

More

Dr Anne Seinemann’s Resources

Going to School with MCS in Australia: Imagine How This Feels

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

How to Hold a Fragrance Free Birthday Party (Part II)

How to Hold a Fragrance Free Birthday Party (Part I)

Whew! Am I glad that’s out of the way (by 11 months now!). And I can’t believe it’s nearly time for the next one; I sure hope it’s a quiet one. Kid’s 18th and 21st are ritualistically on the larger, noisier side; and, for my daughter’s 18th, I wasn’t about to let my health dull the event for her.

This post has been half-ready, sitting in my drafts folder for a while now but there’s this thing about teenage offspring and their first ever long-term relationship that means that if they break up, all speaking, blogging, showing photos, or anything to do with that person is absolutely forbidden. For some time. That time is now over, so here’s what happened… at the fragrance free 18th birthday party, that is. But first:

In brief (click here for the long version) here’s what happened, leading up to it:

  • Outdoor balcony at restaurant was fully booked out by us (this meant we had to invite 30 people, at least)
  • Catering staff were asked not to wear sprays or fragrance (this helped us decide on the actual restaurant, itself. The first restaurant owner who agreed to this, we booked with; which just happened to be the first place we tried: Miyako Japanese Cuisine & Teriyaki. Usually, Japanese restaurants have a lot more gluten-free, healthy-type food choices, anyway)
  • We asked for them to keep the door leading into the restaurant  (from the balcony) closed at all times, due to fumes from high-temperature cooking of Teriyaki (indoor Japanese BBQ)
  • Menu was decided on in advance (this saves money. Can’t have people going: “Oh, I’ll have the Gently-Baked Lobster and that bottle of Dom Perignon.” And, more importantly, we needed to take many people’s dietary requirements and particular tastes into consideration: children, old people and those on a special diet. I think we pleased our guests… and no one got sick)
  • A gluten-free (GF), dairy-free, artificial flavour free chocolate mud cake was ordered from delightful cake making people at Wooden Spoon Cakes (they specialise in GF cakes–and as usual, this one was delicious. Often people complain about GF food; but every year, people always want more of this particular mud cake.)
  • Invitations were sent out (very clear message about the fragrance issue, why that is, and what happens–people need to know that it’s not about the smell, yah? It’s the chemicals!)
  • Phone calls were made to remind people about the fragrance issues (People forget. They do! It’s like brushing their teeth (or something that they do automatically each day) as they get ready to rush out the door.), we did this the day before the event
  • Lovely cousins took the birthday girl shopping for a new outfit so I didn’t have to get sick by going into Myers (our department store, here in Melbourne, Australia)
  • Daughter’s slimy ex-boyfreind finally saw they he was NOT the only one who gets asked NOT to wear fragrance chemicals

So here’s how our fragrance free event actually went down:

Yes, it was fragrance free (FF), practically: if you don’t count the fumes from the fabric softeners, washing powders, and soaps, floating around the air; however, when with a group of people who normally wear fragrances, I count this outcome as good. Real good. And the ‘old’ fragrance coming from some people’s clothes? You know the sort: the stuff that some people smell of permanently, even when they’re not wearing it? That was still there. So, even with these mildly impacting on my health, yes, I was still marvellously impressed, coping really well, and totally humbled by all thirty-three people’s effort to go fragrance free. I really feel that the reminder phone calls helped–even though, I felt like a total nuisance getting someone else to make these calls, they were necessary. And perhaps, the rumour that they couldn’t come if they were not FF, I’m sure that was a huge incentive, too.

But, it wasn’t a rumour, and I was all keyed up, ready to do the deed. And I didn’t read the comments on this blog until the night after the party. But I’m not sure that there is someone in my life who can “play the bad guy”; well, there is, but it’s mostly that person’s friends/relatives who wear it, and going by previous functions, I’m often left out in the cold—literally [think sitting outside at events in winter while people who are wearing fragrance are inside]. As years have gone by, the smaller gatherings have become more socially inclusive of my immune system’s fragrance intolerance. However, this was our event and the boundaries were clear. (Most people knew that I’d been awfully sick for the previous year, so I had that on my side.) My daughter was nervous because the last two birthdays were disasters as far as fragrance went–and that it happened in our own home.

The Melbourne skyline was amazing. The weather was overcast but it was a hot day of 33 degrees celsius; however, the north wind (our notoriously harsh, hot and dry, densely polluted wind, which blows up from the north) decided to stay away. Apart from the boat taxis on the river, the restaurant was perfect. I can’t recommend this place highly enough for anyone who needs an outdoor eating area away from main roads, and that can be closed off from the public.

The time went quickly and it was just like an ordinary party where there is a large group of people, gathering around for a celebration. It felt surreal. I had not yet had success at Uni with fragrance free classes; and I’d been so sick throughout the previous year, that just organising the party was exhausting. (As was anticipating what could go wrong.) So when we were actually there, it passed like a dream come true.

However, it wasn’t all unscented roses and gluten-free chocolate cake…

I couldn’t invite many people with chemical sensitivities, you see, at gatherings where everyone is already fragrance free, these often include people who are chemically sensitive; *such is the nature of chemical sensitivities, people simply don’t use chemical-based products*. (Just so you know, they don’t end up with bad BO (cause they wear fresh clothing), smelly bum cracks (umm–they shower, daily), or turn ugly from lack of Estea Lauder applications (cause they know they are already beautiful).) At these type of events, people who are wearers of fragrance chemicals are easily filtered out–unless, or until they have been well trained in the fine art of going fragrance free. This segregation of events is stupid (and guess which ones would have to sit up the back of the bus? Well, that depends on whose in the minority and if the bus has the windows open) and it’s freaking impossible to invite most of my chemically sensitive friends because I don’t want them to get sick. It’s rude to even ask them to risk it. This was my daughter’s event so I only invited one chemically sensitive person who is close to us; but she couldn’t make it down from Queensland. I wish she could have cause then I wouldn’t have been the only one there (She’s not as chemically sensitive–some fragrances, and mould–and has a job where she deals with people all the time, so I felt I could invite her without risking her health or wellbeing).

Anyway, I’m sure just a couple of people who were there think that I’m mentally ill, and maybe, on some creative level, I am, but that’s a totally separate issue from getting chemically ill; however, certain people can, and do, get confused. I gathered this from the ‘enquiries’ about my ‘mental health’ and ‘stress levels’ in the weeks leading up to it. *Well meaning, of course.*  *And, from the usual suspects.* My answer was: “I just need to move out of the city, away from the pollution and that mould-ridden house.” (I was about 30 days away from moving to the beach house that I’m in now.) I said this knowing that fresh air fixes it every time. I know this. So do my doctors. Who wouldn’t end up with crazy-screaming-woman issues when they spend their whole time trying to control others who they have no control over? Or, trying to avoid chemicals in a world where chemicals are almost everywhere? Actually, the idea that we can control anything is sure to turn into an anomaly, anyway:

After all that organising, one hour into the party my upper respiratory system was suffering symptoms from diesel fumes, of all things.

The one thing I didn’t anticipate (oh, the bloody stress of tying to anticipate things in advance) was a boat taxi pulling up, parking on the edge of the river, outside our building’s balcony, a few floors down. This happened for ten minutes, every half hour of so. The diesel fumes floated up into our dining area. I told our darling waitress, Cony (thanks, darling x), and she raised the plastic side wall, and that helped. Because the diesel was mixed with fresh air, it wasn’t so bad–as opposed to being in a closed space such as a car or room with it.

It just goes to show that no matter how much planning there is, not everything will go to plan; but without the plan, it would be a complete and utter disaster. End result: My daughter was happy; I was happy.

Anyway, here are some photos:

If you have a situation where you or someone you know is excluded from family events, try printing out this Cleaner Indoor Air Campaign, and sending it to relatives. It’s visually explicit.

Have you ever attended a fragrance free event? If you have any tips or suggestions, please share…

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Scent-free Canada

Choose Friendships Over Fragrances

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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