Written by Elizabeth Conway
Scents are not just a nuisance for people who are averse to them, they can actually cause health problems.
As if we needed another reason to stop using fragranced products, a recent analysis foundthat fragrance was the official culprit in a number of work-related reports of asthma. The study looked at asthma associated with exposure to air fresheners, perfumes, colognes, and other personal care products in the workplace.
Interestingly, almost a quarter of cases of fragrance-associated asthma in the workplace occurred in workers who had no previous history of asthma, but developed it as a result of exposure to scented products on the job. Cases of asthma as a result of fragrance exposure were found to be more likely in offices, and health and education jobs. And not surprisingly, more women than men were impacted.
This study helps demonstrate that scents are not just a nuisance for people who are averse to them, they can actually cause health problems. This is supported by another study done in 2016 that found 34.7% of the population report adverse reactions such as migraines, asthma attacks or rashes when exposed to fragrance.
The good news is there are solutions that will help alleviate this public health threat. Back in 2000s the country saw a blanket of smoking bans in public spaces such as restaurants, bars, government buildings, etc. Similarly, we need to start instituting fragrance-free policies in public spaces. There are some good resources out there to help you advocate and develop fragrance-free policies for your workplace, schools, the gym, and other public places.
- California Department of Public Health factsheet on fragrances and work-related asthma (also available in Spanish and Chinese on the website)
- Sample fragrance-free policy provided by the American Lung Association
- Sample fragrance-free policy for schools provided by the American Lung Association
- Information on harmful substances that can be found in fragrance
You can also join thousands of others and take Women’s Voices for the Earth’s fragrance-free pledge. Help spread the word by sharing the pledge on your favorite social media sites.
Together, we can create safe, health spaces to live, work and play.