What Does Fragrance-Free Really Mean?
by Judi Epstein, MSN, ARNP
with Diana Khoury, NBCR
You may notice that more businesses today are adopting a fragrance-free policy. In fact, the American Lung Association tells us that having a fragrance-free environment helps to create a safe and healthy workplace. That sounds like a good idea, but what does it really mean?
Synthetic fragrances (and the chemicals they contain) have been associated with many adverse health reactions including headaches, upper respiratory symptoms, shortness of breath, and difficulty with concentration. I treat many patients who are sensitive or allergic to fragrances, and can have severe reactions when exposed. These patients are not “oversensitive” individuals. They truly have a medical condition which necessitates they avoid environmental triggers, or risk serious health consequences.
What Products Contain Fragrances?
According to the American Lung Association, “Perfumes and colognes are the products most commonly associated with the word ‘fragrance.’ Most personal products, cleaners, cosmetics and soaps, however, also have fragrances added to make them more appealing to customers.
What many people don’t realize is that perfumes and other scented products can trigger asthma attacks or allergies in people with respiratory problems. Small children, babies and the elderly are especially susceptible. People who are sensitive to [fragrances] sometimes notice headaches, problems breathing, watery eyes, nausea, fatigue and other symptoms…The best way to avoid having a reaction to fragrances for many people is to avoid all scented products.”
How to Accommodate a Fragrance-Free Zone
Those who come in regular contact with a fragrance free ‘zone’ or workplace may be left wondering what to do? Possible solutions may include: refraining from wearing perfume, cologne or body sprays, switching to unscented hair products and body lotion, replacing dryer sheets with eco-friendly or unscented fabric softeners, and simply avoiding products scented with artificial fragrances or parfum. These steps should be taken on the days leading up to and during contact with a fragrance-free zone. If you are not sure what to avoid or substitute from your daily regimen, call the fragrance-free workplace or office in advance and ask.
Toxin-Free Household Cleaners
To reduce personal exposure to harsh (and potentially toxic) cleaners, make your cleaning products at home. Easy, all-natural recipes for homemade cleaning products, laundry detergent, and air fresheners can be found here.
Businesses that have fragrance-free policies put the health of their employees
(all employees) first in their efforts to create a safe and healthy workplace. Accommodating those policies helps reduce toxic exposures for everyone. Becoming fragrance-free takes effort, but to the person with chemical sensitivities or allergies,
a little bit of consideration by others goes a long way, and will be truly appreciated and rewarded with better health for all.