A Perfume Free Zone? – Perfume In The Workplace

Bad Smell

“Exactly HOW MANY sprays of Poison are you wearing?!”

The European attitude to perfume is very different to that of our American counterparts. Some parts of Europe in particular have a, let me be diplomatic here, shall we say ‘relaxed’ attitude to bathing and perfume can be used to cover up the husky odours of the body that might be missed during said relaxed bathing rituals – think ‘Italian shower’ and you’re on the right track.

Whilst this may be a little of an over exaggeration, because in these modern times generally everybody bathes quite regularly, including myself I hasten to add. Where we definitely are relaxed is in the perfume department. We don’t mind what perfume you wear, when or where you wear it. We also tend to favour the larger, richer perfumes to the fresh, clean one and as long as you’re not deliberately trying to send someone into an Angel-induced coma then you’re fine. Across the pond things seem to be quite different.

This week I was reading an article, about the banning of perfume in the workplace, something that seems to be happening more and more in the US. Now this interested me for two reasons; firstly because I am a perfume-nut and I love my big perfumes, and secondly because I am a Human Resources professional by trade and this sort of thing is a big conundrum and an absolute minefield for us HR people.

So it got me to thinking – should perfume be banned in the workplace? Or is this a case of the PC Police taking things one step too far? Can I see my workplace implementing a ‘No-perfume policy’ or designating itself a ‘Perfume Free Zone’ anytime in the near future? The more I started to think, the more I realised that it is in fact, quite a complex issue.

You Make Me Sick

The recent news that the State of New Hampshire attempted to implement a bill that would ban the use of perfume, and scented personal products for those state workers in customer facing roles was surprising to me. The reasons behind the bill are simple; “An increasing number of people with sensitive noses are having severe allergic reactions to strong scents. Symptoms include sudden migraine, fatigue and nausea.” [1] but does that make it right?

I can’t help but think that it’s a case of the government interfering just a little bit too much. Who are they to say what you put on your body? Where is the scientific evidence to support these claims? Where does it stop? A complete ban on fragrance altogether? Of course there is a responsibility to public health, but does perfume present such a huge risk? We’ve been wearing perfumes for thousands of years, and only now do we feel need to start banning it. That really says something about the effect that it has.

My opinion is that you should be able to wear what you like to work, but you should always be respectful of those around you. That means, don’t wear excessive amounts of perfume and don’t spray perfume around those that you know will have an issue with it. It comes down to personal choice and most importantly, consideration for others. Nobody wants to be ‘that guy’ who gases anyone within a 100 metre radius with 10 pumps of Kouros.

I work in an office environment and wear any perfume that I like to work. If a colleague was to say that a particular perfume I wore gave them a headache or made them feel unwell then I wouldn’t wear it again, I am after all, a respectful person, or I like to think I am. But shouldn’t it be my choice whether I wear perfume to work, not my employer’s?

Peg Nose

There are of course a number of professions where perfume would not be suitable, for example; the medical profession and any profession that involves working with food.

In professions such as these, it would be reasonable for the employer to have a ‘fragrance free’ policy, because when working with people in a vulnerable position or with food, perfume may not be entirely appropriate

For an employer, and this is where I place my HR cap firmly on my head, this issue brings up an interesting argument in terms of disability – would we consider somebody with a severe allergy or reaction to perfume to have a disability? If so, then under UK law, namely the Equality Act 2010, employers would be required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for that person and failure to make these adjustments could mean that the employer is leaving themselves open for claims of disability discrimination.

What exactly would we consider as these reasonable adjustments? A scent-free environment? Or perhaps a lightly scented environment? How exactly would you enforce this policy and is it reasonable to take disciplinary action against people, or even dismiss them for wearing perfume? Of course it all depends on the severity of the problem and as yet I haven’t been able to find any UK case law that suggests that allergies to perfume have been considered as a disability.

In a survey conducted by Asthma UK, 40% of respondents said that things at work exacerbated their asthma, with 14% citing perfume/air fresheners as a reason. This is interesting when compared to the fact that dust (62%), cigarette smoke (38%) and stress (27%) were all seen as stronger triggers for asthma, so are we over-exagerating the issue and does this mean that we should also ban dust and stress from the workplace?

The issue of perfume in the workplace is surprisingly complex and I realise that this post raises more questions than it does answers, but I do feel that it is a hot topic that needs to be discussed. I very much stick by my stance that perfume should not be banned in the workplace, and that we all need to apply a degree of common sense to the situation rather than acting in a purely reactionary manner. What do you think?

Join the Discussion!

What do you think of banning perfume at work?

Do you live/work somewhere where perfume is banned?

Do you wear perfume to work? Do you wear your usual perfumes or do you opt for something lighter?

What do you do if someone at work complains about your perfume?

Disclaimer

[1] myfoxboston.com
[2] asthma.org.uk

Image 1 mama–cita.blogspot.com
Image 2 piercemattiepublicrelations.com
Image 3 theblogfacebookforgot.blogspot.com

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97 thoughts on “A Perfume Free Zone? – Perfume In The Workplace

  1. I work with a lot of big hairy demolition workers, they would be hard pressed to tell if I was wearing perfume or not let alone comment on it, that puts me in a fortunate position of wearing whatever I like to work. That said if my bf (who is also my boss) really dislikes a perfume I tend not to wear it again or when I am with him, his biggest complaint was against daisy eau fresh and carnal flower.
    I would have to think twice about working for an employer that insisted on a perfume ban as wearing perfume every day is part of who I am. As for the government ever getting involved, I think they would be better sticking to important things like running the country and getting us out of recession.:-)

    • I wonder if your big hairy demolition workers wear a lot of perfume too?

      I like that you say that wearing perfume is a part of you are, I feel the same and wouldn’t be happy working for an employer that imposed a ban.

      Yes, Mr Cameron & Mr Clegg have much bigger fish to fry!

      • Oh, and oddly, the only every complaint I’ve had at work was from my boss when I was wearing Carnal Flower (coincidence?). It wasn’t a complaint as such, she just said that it was horrible and smelled of Ralgex…

  2. I wear perfumes to work every day and only an extreme necessity would make me work at a place that bans perfumes for no good reason.

    I am mindful of my co-workers and always tell people in my office to let me know if some particular perfume smells offensive: I have so many different ones that there is no reason for me to wear anything that makes people around me uncomfortable. But then we do the same with the food: if anybody wants to eat at their desk they ask people around if their food’s smell bothers anybody and if yes (which happens sometimes – we have a multy-cultural hence multy-cuisine office) they take it to the lunch room.

    Having said that, I still think there are places where perfumes should be if not banned then at least limited. For example, I felt that Angel (which I personally love) worn by a nurse was completely out of place in my grandmother’s hospital room where she was recovering from a very serious surgery.

    • I that’s exactly it, it’s all about being mindful of and considerate to your co-workers.

      It sounds like the nurse looking after your grandmother seriously misjudged her perfume. If there was ever a situation for something light then that would have been it.

  3. I wear perfume to work and I don’t believe we will be facing a ban here any time soon. :)
    I do try and choose perfumes that might not be too expansive in their sillage and I apply relatively sparely. But I can’t imagine going without.
    I don’t think I can actually add anything useful to the discussion as my company is relatively small and everyone is rather friendly with everybody else, so we tend to all have a higher lever of understanding and patience toward the quirks of our colleagues. Not that I’d call my perfume love a quirk but some might. ;)
    But nobody ever complained, I only sometimes get a compliment something smells very nice. :)

    • Your company seems lovely and I’m glad that you’re in a position to enjoy your ‘quirk’ in the workplace :P

      Working in a smaller, more close-knit environment makes the whole scent issue a lot easier and I imagine that if a colleague had a problem they would feel more comfortable in saying, whereas in a larger company that isn’t so close they may have an issue coming forward.

  4. I work from home these days, so I’m free to wallow in whatever perfume I like.
    When I worked in the hospital though, I had to be much more careful of course, but thankfully it was never impossible to wear anything at all, or I would have suffered a lot.
    I fear that the American “No Perfume” hysteria will eventually swap over just like everything else does as well. I think what is needed is a good dose of common sense, as long as perfume stays in the personal space, it should be fine. Extremes are bad – everywhere. Too much is just as wrong as nothing at all. Everything in moderation should make everyone happy. But that is just my two (s)cents… ;)

    • I long to work from home so consider me jealous! :P

      I think you’re right in what you say about the hospital, perfume doesn’t necessarily have to be banned but it does need to be much lighter and less intrusive.

      Extremes are bad, I couldn’t agree more! When putting together policies for work I always think that the common sense approach is the best, people shouldn’t be treated as if they aren’t capable of making their own choices.

      Thank you for your two scents!

  5. I am a US Government employee who works in a very drab, dull and unimaginative environment. There is nothing in my office that sparks creativity or individuality. I could not imagine if I couldn’t wear cologne to work. It’s the the one way that breathes life into my daily work. Given that, I too respect those around me and try to avoid walking around in a perfume cloud. I have not heard about New Hampshire’s attempted bill, but New Hampshire is much more PC than many of the other states in the union. Great article.

    • Thanks for your comments Scented Hound, I find it interesting that you say there is nothing that sparks creativity or individuality in your office. Is this typical of government offices?

      Perfume is a form of expression, and you should be allowed to express yourself at work. I’m glad that you’re still able to wear cologne in your office!

  6. I, too wear perfume everyday and luckily for me I work from home nowadays. There are many offices where any and all scents are banned, these include body lotion and shampoos. They have notices hanging everywhere and do tell visitors to go to the washroom and wash your scent off. Many municipal offices here also are starting with the no scent ban. Don’t see why it should be a problem if used in moderation, after all I’d rather smell someone’s perfume rather than their sweaty ass (this comment directed at the scent Godzilla in my former office). :) Nice article T.

    • Wow, I’m shocked that some places don’t allow body lotion or shampoo? How can a shampoo cause problems for another person? That really is taking things to the extreme!

      Like you say, I’d much rather smell a strongly scented person than someone with bad BO. Unluckily for me, being the HR guy, I get to be the one that has the conversations with the smelly people to inform them of their issue. It’s a conversation I have much more often than I would like.

      • I’m quite sure that they allow body lotion and shampoo. Just not chemically fragranced body lotion and shampoo. Big difference.

      • You are entitled to your opinion however don’t tell me what is or isn’t allowed in my former office as you have never been there and I spend 6 years looking at the sign telling people “no scent zone, if you use personal grooming products make absolutely certain they are 100% scent free. All visitors must use washroom to wash any and all scents off.”

      • Deb why all of the anger? Candy Perfume Boy said “Wow, I’m shocked that some places don’t allow body lotion or shampoo? How can a shampoo cause problems for another person? That really is taking things to the extreme!”

        I’m saying that I’m quite sure that they can use body lotion and shampoo, just not “scented” your words Deb lotion and shampoo.

      • No anger, just not amused by the extreme some people will go to for no reason other than to make life unpleasant for others. If someone has an allergy then yes care should be taken, however this scent nazi (yes, I used the term) was a bitter and controlling woman who truly had nothing better to do and by your original comments it certainly seemed to me you were in fact contradicting what I new to be fact. Anyway enough of this, it seems we’ve hijacked T’s blog :)

  7. well i’m most certainly the ‘guy {girl} gassing ppl with Kouros…well if i had a bottle currently in my collection. As a nurse,I wouldn’t be found wearing Angel becoz i hate it. However i mostly spray any fumes between 8 and 10 sprays….and i prefer ‘bigger bolder sillage bombs’ no one has ever said they disliked my fumes and like the above,i work in a rather boring environment; same boring uniform ,same boring work;same bored staff lol; perfume is my only way of expressing myself. So my three big decisions each work day are….what colour lippy to wear,the perfume to wear,and if to actually bother turning up lol!!!! Perfume is as a part of my personality as is my humour. In conclusion,if it was banned i’d put up a bit of a stink.

  8. I think this “No Perfume Movement” is all about the underlying Puritanical streak still very much present in American society, mixed with the general “All About Me” attitude of the last couple of generations = combustion/hysteria. I can remember when people still smoked in offices, up to the mid to late 80′s. (The more considerate among them had some sort of smoke filter desktop contraption.) We all know who won that war. I hope perfume wearing at work doesn’t become the next one, but I suspect it will, even though it’s nowhere near secondhand smoke territory in terms of potential health issues. But the opening volleys sound similar — suddenly, “allergies” to scented products are much more common than ever before. This binds HR’s hands. You can’t dismiss someone’s allergies; you’d be left wide open to legal action. And yet it’s impossible to be “allergic” to raging B.O. or eternal garlic breath!

    Since fear of litigation seems to be the prime mover here as everywhere, my guess is that HR departments will bend, and within a few years all scented products will be banned from the workplace.

    • This is the problem, if people complain then HR need to do something and their hands can be tied. Thankfully, as things stand in the UK, it would be unreasonable to ban scented products (especially lotions and shampoos – which is ridiculous), we would instead request that employees applied perfume with restraint and considered others.

      I don’t think it’s unreasonable to stop people spraying perfume in a work environment, but to stop them wearing perfume altogether is incredibly reactionary and over the top.

      I find the BO argument very interesting, my experience in HR has taught me that BO causes more problems than perfume or body products, which tend to affect a small minority. When a person has bad body odour we receive multiple complaints and the matter has to be dealt with sensitively, and in extreme, continuing cases disciplinary action can be taken. This is a long drawn out process, why not just ban BO? (I’m playing devil’s advocate here).

      The ‘litigation’ culture is something that we’ve seen increase over her in the last few years. Vexatious employment tribunal claims and even the rise of personal accident claims (whether at work or not) both worry me and it seems that we are heading down a path which is quite scary. The fear of the litigation sometimes cause more problems than the litigation itself.

      • I should add that the mass-market perfumes themselves are so strong and synthetic-smelling that they should be applied very lightly (I’d say “if at all” but don’t want to sound like a snob). It seems as though the perfume wearers may not know how to wear fragrance to a workplace — discreetly — or, worse, may not care who they offend. It’s this last group that is going to cause draconian restrictions to come into play, forcing the rest of us us to live increasingly colorless lives.

  9. I’ve written a Monday Question about perfume and thw workplace for OT, great minds and all that!

    Olfacta’s Orwellian style prediction about the future of perfume in the workplace is scary! I think it’s a good point that it is part of the puritanical movement. I hadn’t thought of that before but it makes sense in terms of certain powerful factions in the States. I’m sure it’s not based on medical evidence of harm being done. I hope it never gets like that here. I think your stance is absolutely right. There shouldn’t be a ban, people should use their common sense and be considerate, depending on their work situation. Otherwise call in your local friendly HR professional :)

    • Great minds do think alike :P

      Olfacta’s prediction is definitely frightening and it just highlights how things are becoming more and more ridiculous in the world. Soon we’ll have banned fun, breathing and speaking.

      (Oh and that’s the first time I’ve heard to us HR professionals as ‘friendly’ – we occasionally get called the ‘Human Remains’ department)

  10. I work in a very small creative place, and so people are quite open to it. I pretty much wear what I want, as long as I don’t put too much on that it bowls people over. I’ve had really positive reactions to it, to the point where people know I wear interesting perfumes, ask me about what I’m wearing, and insist on sniffing me!

    In response to: What do you do if someone at work complains about your perfume? — I would fire them! (Haha, just kidding.)

  11. For the most part, I really feel that this is a “act like a freaking adult and if you are bothered by something that someone’s wearing, politely tell them!” On the flip side when fragrancing yourself for the day…don’t be crazy about it, people shouldn’t smell your fragrance on the bus before your transfer from the train….

    In the musician part of my life, I’ve realized that the fragrance issue can be quite different. Especially in two areas: sitting in cramped orchestra pits or under very bright stage lights. I get this. Especially being a wind player. It’s a consideration thing. I mean, I’d love to be in a coal mine full of people wearing carnal flower, but after awhile, the breathing aspect would be pretty different. If you’re unaware of the “pit rules”, you’ll get some nasty looks and sniffs for the first few nights…not that I’ve ever been treated like that…. But I get it.

    • Amen sister! We have to be adults here and deal with things amicably. Unfortunately, in office environments especially, these things can be blown out of proportion and people can act in over-exagerated and highly emotional ways.

  12. Since I work in a hospital I naturally don’t wear perfume at work. Myself I can’t see any reason why perfumes should be banned from workplaces generally as long as you use common sense and moderation, and as for banning all scented products! Most products like shampo when unscented smells absolutely vile! In Sweden I’d say we are much like the US and Canada on this issue so I would recommend light application of perfume if you ever go to work here…
    As a doctor I get seriously annoyed though when this is described as an allergy! Oversensitivity to perfume and other smells is NOT an allergy (that is immunologically mediated through IgE antibodies and so on) and won’t kill anyone unlike a serious allergy to peanuts for example. It might cause discomfort but it’s not dangerous and that to me is an important point.

  13. I want to know when the people with the so called allergies are going to be more “accountable” in the situation. If I was a person who needed glasses to read small print (which I am), I wouldn’t dream of walking into my employer’s office and demand that everything in the work place – including everyone that worked there – should have to write all memos, emails, etc in 48 point font just so I could read without glasses….no!, I would just wear glasses so I could read all the small print. If someone knows that they have such severe allergies that a quick sniff of Angel or Opium or Paris is going to send them into an asthma attack/migraine, shouldn’t THEY be doing something proactive in the situation? Like wearing a mask to work? Or requesting a desk near a window? Sheesh….next thing you know we’re going tho have to make sure we are wearing the “appropriate” colored clothing to work (….”that shade of blue gives me a migraine, so let’s ban ALL blue clothing from the workplace…”).

    Sorry for the rant….this issue really irks me.

    • Hear, hear! I don’t plan to force people to cut down all birch trees and kill of all their pets because I’m allergic to pollen and furry animals. I take antihistamines instead!

    • That’s a very interesting point, and I agree, people with allergies do need to take some form of responsibility, the way people with all kinds of illnesses do.

      I do believe that for more serious allergies, for example a nut allergy, it would be reasonable for an employer to do as much as the can to minimise the risk to the afflicted employee. It all depends on the severity of course.

  14. The ignorance surrounding this subject is always shocking. How is it “freedom” when people are made sick by the toxic, unregulated chemicals harming those around you? We all should have freedom to be in our workplace, schools, medical facilities, movies, restaurants, concerts, parks, public transit, our own yards, etc. without being poisoned by other people’s poor and dangerous choices.

    Reactions to fragrance are not allergic reactions, they are toxic reactions and they cause chemical injuries. Fragrances have up to 500 chemicals in just one fragrance. These chemicals include carcinogens, neurotoxins, respiratory depressants, narcotics, sensitizers, etc. They are not safe at any level. Not even one molecule. Why is it so difficult to understand that everyone has the right to breathe fresh air free of these chemicals? Is it because you can’t see the toxic fumes like you can with cigarette smoke?

    Ultimately all harmful chemicals in fragrances should be removed at the source. Until then, there needs to be regulation so that more and more people are not seriously harmed by others around them. Many people suffer from nausea, vomiting, headaches, migraines, seizures, ataxic gait, hypertension, nosebleeds, confusion and unconsciousness as well as other lesser symptoms.. Seriously does anyone have the “right” to commit this harm to others? Absolutely not.

    And what about 2nd and 3rd hand fragrance? When people around you, their clothing, etc. reek of chemicals it embeds itself in others clothing, nasal passages, hair, etc. just like cigarette smoke. Why should my body, clothing, etc. reek of toxic chemical fragrance when I have chosen not to use it?

    Workplaces, medical facilities, restaurants movie theaters, concerts etc. should all be free of these toxic chemicals polluting everyone’s air. Not to mention the air in your own space like your yard and your house. Many people cannot open their doors and/or windows or spend time in their yards on their own property because of the fumes from dryer vents filling the air with fragranced fabric softeners which permeates the entire neighborhood with these toxic chemicals.

    Enough is enough. It’s time to wake up people. Ideally companies would be forced to stop using these chemicals in any product. However there is neither regulation nor testing of these chemicals and they hide them (many banned for years by the EPA) under the “Trade Secret” law. So not only are more and more people being chemically injured by these products but they are also polluting the municipal water supply (they cannot be filtered out – check this with your local water district) but also lakes, streams, oceans and wildlife. Contrary to the marketing and advertising brainwashing that convinces the masses that they “need” these chemicals in order to be “clean”, “fresh” or to “smell good” they actually only serve to pollute your body, your environment and everyone and every place that you come in contact with.

    Chemical fragrances are unnecessary and not an inalienable or constitutional right. They need to be removed from all products and banned from public use.

    Editors Note: Links and contact info removed. Discussion is very welcome but self promotion is not.

    • This is certainly an interesting and though provoking comment.

      Just to clarify are you saying that perfume should not be worn at all?

      It would be interesting to see just how many people are affected by perfume, here in the United Kingdom it is not really an issue, and I can’t help but thinking that banning is over the top. Most people know to be cautious and respectful when they apply perfume.

      • Yes I’m saying that chemically based fragance should not be used. Ultimately companies would be forced to remove them but until then they should be banned. It’s not about whether someone “likes” your fragrances or not. It’s not about whether you wear a lot of a little. It’s about the chemicals that are used and do cause harm. They are even harming you and you just aren’t aware of it. Studies have shown that the average person has 220 different chemicals in their blood at any given time. Many of those are chemicals used in fragrances. You may be suffereing mild symptoms but don’t connect it to your fragrances. Or you may end up with cancer, autoimmune or other health problems in the future that are caused from these chemicals. Nobody is immune.

    • The links I provided were valid information from the the International Fragrance Association listing all of the chemic:als used and another which is one of many websites that have information showing the proincipal chemicals Found in Fragrances from a 1991 report by the FDA.
      Since you do not allow the links to this information I will past the latter and copy/past the list of chemicals that the IFRA has finally released. There is no way to know if this is a complete list. I was trying not to take up space with these long lists but apparently that is the only way that they can be shared here.

      These 3 are Main Ones in Most products people use everyday, shampoos, toothpastes, cleaning gels, deodorant and beauty products:

      COCOAMIDE DEA (diethylalomine) TEA, MEA,– detergent in most shampoos, moisturizers and more
      PROPYLENE GLYCOL – industrial antifreeze- in deodorant, shampoos, shaving gels, moisturizers and more…
      SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE-AND FLUORIDE garage floor cleansers, detergents- in shampoos, toothpastes, more…

      1. ACETONE (in: cologne, dishwashing liquid and detergent, nail enamel remover)
      On EPA, RCRA, CERCLA Hazardous Waste lists. “Inhalation can cause dryness of the mouth and throat; dizziness, nausea, incoordination, slurred speech, drowsiness, and, in severe exposures, coma.” “Acts primarily as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant.”
      ________________________________________
      2. BENZALDEHYDE (in: perfume, cologne, hairspray, laundry bleach, deodorants, detergent, vaseline lotion, shaving cream, shampoo, bar soap, dishwasher detergent)
      Narcotic. Sensitizer. “Local anesthetic, CNS depressant”… “irritation to the mouth, throat, eyes, skin, lungs, and GI tract, causing nausea and abdominal pain.” “May cause kidney damage.” “Do not use with contact lenses.”
      ________________________________________
      3. BENZYL ACETATE (in: perfume, cologne, shampoo, fabric softener, stickup air freshener, dishwashing liquid and detergent, soap, hairspray, bleach, after shave, deodorants)
      Carcinogenic (linked to pancreatic cancer); “From vapors: irritating to eyes and respiratory passages, exciting cough.” “In mice: hyperanemia of the lungs.” “Can be absorbed through the skin causing systemic effects.” “Do not flush to sewer.”
      ________________________________________
      4. BENZYL ALCOHOL (in: perfume, cologne, soap, shampoo, nail enamel remover, air freshener, laundry bleach and detergent, vaseline lotion, deodorants, fabric softener)
      “irritating to the upper respiratory tract” …”headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drop in blood pressure, CNS depression, and death in severe cases due to respiratory failure.”
      ________________________________________
      5. CAMPHOR (in: perfume, shaving cream, nail enamel, fabric softener, dishwasher detergent, nail color, stickup air freshener)
      “local irritant and CNS stimulant” …”readily absorbed through body tissues” …”irritation of eyes, nose and throat” …”dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles and convulsions” “Avoid inhalation of vapors.”
      ________________________________________
      6. ETHANOL (in: perfume, hairspray, shampoo, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid and detergent, laundry detergent, shaving cream, soap, vaseline lotion, air fresheners, nail color and remover, paint and varnish remover)
      On EPA Hazardous Waste list; symptoms: “…fatigue; irritating to eyes and upper respiratory tract even in low concentrations…” “Inhalation of ethanol vapors can have effects similar to those characteristic of ingestion. These include an initial stimulatory effect followed by drowsiness, impaired vision, ataxia, stupor…” Causes CNS disorder.
      ________________________________________
      7. ETHYL ACETATE (in: after shave, cologne, perfume, shampoo, nail color, nail enamel remover, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid)
      Narcotic. On EPA Hazardous Waste list; “…irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract” …”may cause headache and narcosis (stupor)” …”defatting effect on skin and may cause drying and cracking” …”may cause anemia with leukocytosis and damage to liver and kidneys” “Wash thoroughly after handling.”
      ________________________________________
      8. LIMONENE (in: perfume, cologne, disinfectant spray, bar soap, shaving cream, deodorants, nail color and remover, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid, air fresheners, after shave, bleach, paint and varnish remover)
      Carcinogenic. “Prevent its contact with skin or eyes because it is an irritant and sensitizer.” “Always wash thoroughly after using this material and before eating, drinking, …applying cosmetics. Do not inhale limonene vapor.”
      ________________________________________
      9. LINALOOL (in: perfume, cologne, bar soap, shampoo, hand lotion, nail enamel remover, hairspray, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, vaseline lotion, air fresheners, bleach powder, fabric softener, shaving cream, after shave, solid deodorant)
      Narcotic. …”respiratory disturbances” … “Attracts bees.” “In animal tests: ataxic gait, reduced spontaneous motor activity and depression … development of respiratory disturbances leading to death.” …”depressed frog-heart activity.” Causes CNS disorder.
      ________________________________________
      10. METHYLENE CHLORIDE (in: shampoo, cologne, paint and varnish remover)
      Banned by the FDA in 1988! No enforcement possible due to trade secret laws protecting chemical fragrance industry. On EPA, RCRA, CERCLA Hazardous Waste lists. “Carcinogenic” …”Absorbed, stored in body fat, it metabolizes to carbon monoxide, reducing oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.” “Headache, giddiness, stupor, irritability, fatigue, tingling in the limbs.” Causes CNS disorder.
      ________________________________________
      11. a-PINENE (in: bar and liquid soap, cologne, perfume, shaving cream, deodorants, dishwashing liquid, air freshener)
      Sensitizer (damaging to the immune system).
      ________________________________________
      12. g-TERPINENE (in: cologne, perfume, soap, shaving cream, deodorant, air freshener)
      “Causes asthma and CNS disorders.”
      ________________________________________
      13. a-TERPINEOL (in: perfume, cologne, laundry detergent, bleach powder, laundry bleach, fabric softener, stickup air freshener, vaseline lotion, cologne, soap, hairspray, after shave, roll-on deodorant)
      …”highly irritating to mucous membranes”… “Aspiration into the lungs can produce pneumonitis or even fatal edema.” Can also cause “excitement, ataxia (loss of muscular coordination), hypothermia, CNS and respiratory depression, and headache.” “Prevent repeated or prolonged skin contact.”
      ________________________________________
      NOTE: Unable to secure MSDS for the following chemicals: 1,8-CINEOLE; b-CITRONELLOL; b-MYRCENE; NEROL; OCIMENE; b-PHENETHYL ALCOHOL; a-TERPINOLENE

      L

      • You do realise that MSDS information is for people using these chemicals in an occupational setting, not for the general consumer? As such, I think you have misinterpreted their purpose. They don’t exist for the purpose of scaremongering. They are there to make the people that work with the chemicals every day aware of the hazards of doing so and, as such, aware of the means of minimising the risks of exposure. Look up the MSDS for almost anything and you can scare yourself silly with the risks.

        Also, this? “Inhalation of ethanol vapors can have effects similar to those characteristic of ingestion. These include an initial stimulatory effect followed by drowsiness, impaired vision, ataxia, stupor…” = drunkenness. People do this every single day. Yes, prolonged exposure is definitely harmful, but it’s all about dosage. Exposure to too much water can kill you too – either by drowning or through ingestion. The doses of these chemicals are regulated to ensure that they are well below the daily exposure limits for everyone.

        Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for reducing exposure to harmful substances – I’m doing a PhD in green chemistry, but a bit of common sense doesn’t go amiss.

  15. I live in the US and I work with disabled people, both my co-workers and our clients. Mine is one of those “offices where any and all scents are banned, these include body lotion and shampoos. They have notices hanging everywhere and do tell visitors to go to the washroom and wash your scent off” to quote an earlier poster. We do also tell people with very bad body odor/strong cannabis/alcohol smell, etc to wash before coming in again. I find that much more difficult to deal with than perfume, but there ya go.
    I wear perfume anyway, often, but try to stick to something fairly natural smelling and light. I wear SJP Lovely, NR scents and scented oils with no problem. People usually don’t even know I have perfume on. I do sit off to myself and clients don’t get as close to me as they do to some other workers in the office, so I have that advantage. If anyone says anything I offer to go wash and usually shrug it off as being my shampoo or that maybe I have residue on my sweater or something.
    It really bugs me that I am expected to conform to someone else’s “allergy” and I do fear that some day someone will say my red shirt induced a migraine and we will all be restricted to shades of gray or something equally asinine.

    • That’s the problem isn’t it? Where does it stop?

      I just keep coming back to the same conclusion, people who wear perfume should be considerate to others and not over-apply, or select lighter, more inoffensive scents, as you do in your workplace. People who have allergies also need to be respectful of the fact that the whole world can’t change just for them, and if they suffer from a severe allergy then they will need to have an open and respectful dialogue with those around them.

      Banning perfume is simply ridiculous.

      • It’s not an allergy. It’s a chemical injury. You are using toxic chemicals and forcing others around you to breathe and absorb them. Why should people who choose not to poison themselves be subject to your poor choices? You are not being respectful so why do you expect them to be?

  16. I would like to go through Nancy’s post point by point, but I just don’t have the time.
    First of all perfume and scent are not toxic, unregulated chemicals, there are laws and regulations surrounding perfume just like everything else.
    I agree with the person who said it’s an insenstivity, not an allergy and I would like to see some scientific proof of some of these claims.
    I also agree that if people are THAT sensitive to scents, then that person has a larger responsibility to protect themself than I do! We can’t even provide decent curb cuts for people in wheelchairs or adequate housing for handicapped people but we are supposed to smell everyone and guess if they are wearing perfume or if it’s their shampoo or the highly scented tea they had for lunch? Give me a break.
    I also suppose my mascara and scented blusher bother people?

    • Gale you obviously did not read anything at the links that I provided nor have you any knowledge of the facts. There is NO agency that regulates the chemicals used in fragrances. There is little to no testing of chemicals used either singly or synergistically. There are no laws, no regulations. You obviously have no clue. Please tell me what laws and regulations that there are for fragrances? Also tell me who is doing any testing orther than the fragrance industry themselves? Can we say “the fox is guarding the hen house?”

      You wouldn’t need to “smell” everyone to check for chemically fragranced products if they were not allowed in the products in the first place. And since they are allowed and they are not regulated there should be limits on where and when they can be used. It is no different than cigarette smoke. 2nd hand and 3rd hand fragrances included.

  17. Someone was wearing a really strong vanilla laden fragrance on public transport the other day and I found myself wrinkling my nose and thinking to move away – I can’t remember that happening before. But I think it is a point that those in cities are assaulted far more with fragrances..not just perfume.. but just city life so become desensitised more..if I wear a fragrance in the countryside, I can smell it all day and need far less; wear it in a city and I can barely smell it after a while.

    So, what would you do? Ban all city smells.. ban those fast food molecules that drift out when you pass McD’s, ban the coffee aroma that surrounds a cafe? Ban shishas that are culturally part of certain societies and smoked outside? Basically, daily life is an assault on the senses. Get used to it or move to the moon. Complaining about perfume is like complaining about an accent that sounds harsh or a colour that’s too bright..

    The whole chemical thing doesn’t wash with me either.. there are plenty of natural fragrances and quite honestly, allergies can pop up any time, any where and the whole world can’t stop because of it. I have an allergy to the cold (yes, really) called cold urticaria.. I don’t ask people to turn their heating up, supply hot drinks and heated blankets and if I gave into it I’d never leave the house in winter again.. If you have time to and energy to put into trying to ban perfume, I say, get out more, you aren’t busy enough.

    • I think you’ve raised some really interesting points there and I agree that daily life is an assault on the senses and that people with allergies do need to take some responsibility.

      If we had to ban everything that caused an allergy then there would be nothing left…

  18. Good question, and I am late to this lively debate. I don’t have much to add, other than that I agree with the “everything in moderation school of thought, and will just also lob in my mother’s two pennyworth on the matter, which I have also embraced since becoming interested in perfume:

    “You eat a peck of dirt before you die.”

    • Indeed, I have lived by this maxim all my life, just adding perfume to it lately. I have even been known to eat a potato crisp that fell on the floor, and am still here to tell the tale.

    • Well dirt is quite different than toxic chemicals now isn’t it? And I don’t force you to eat dirt all day at work do I? Or force you to eat dirt while you are eating dinner at a restaurant or sitting in a movie? How can that even compare?

      • I was just making the point that our body may be more resilient than you give it credit for. If you were to go through life without coming into pretty close contact with products made from chemicals (paint, the interiors of vehicles – from dashboard to seats – mattresses, clothing and a zillion products made from plastics to name but a couple of categories), modern life as we know it would be brought to its knees. Chemicals are the invisible fabric of our lives and on balance are put to far more positive uses than possibly harmful ones.

  19. I have only few points to make:
    a) People should not stink.
    b) They might be odourless and that is fine. However if their BO is nothing else but a smell of old chip oil lingering under lily of the valley 90% alcohol dilluted cr*p from Poundland then – they should be stigmatised. The other day we had a visitor in the office and she hung her coat on a hanger amongst ours. But we had to take our coats off of it as hers stank like an old pub carpet – smell of ciggarettes and dirt were mixed together and melted into the fabric. I was shocked that someone would even consider wearing themselves like this in public, not mentioning being in a professional environment even.. Shame on you, old blond lady!
    c) If people do want to wear something in public, i.e. in the office, that is great.. however they should not spray anything on themselves while sitting at their desks. It happened to me a few times now.. This woman, who sits at the desk opposite mine, has this weird ritual of pouring hectoliters of some ‘eau de common’ as a first thing in the morning. It is not that bad later on in the day, but feels horrible at 8am, when my nostrils are still half asleep… Don’t you know that in the building we have bathrooms you can use for that early scent shower of yours? Shame on you, another blond woman!
    d) And it all boils down to being considerate of others nostrlis and finding aurea mediocritas of the scent.. :)
    May the Scent be with you..

  20. There are far more toxic chemicals in cleaning products that are used everywhere in the U.S., including hospitals. Avoiding those isn’t that easy either, and they tend to cause far more significant physical reactions.

    I think posts like Nancy’s above attack “chemicals” in perfume, especially among Americans, because it’s easier than tackling the toxic chemicals that actually do make us sick, in our cleaning products, in our food, or just walking down our sidewalks. Perfume seems “optional” and cosmetic companies are vulnerable to public opinion. Food, water, and our general environment are polluted with actual toxins from companies with much more money and more political clout. America has done a far poorer job of regulating actual polluters than Europe has done; and fighting toxins in American life can actually be quite tough, just because they’re so widespread and the companies behind them so pervasive. People who enjoy making a fuss can do so relatively effectively against perfume, when perfume isn’t really that much of a problem.

    I will continue to be perfectly comfortable wearing perfume every day (very few of them 100% natural) and continuing to fight the way corporations sell me proven, actual toxins in my food and drink supply and pollute my environment. (And no, USFDA, I DON’T think there’s an “acceptable” level of arsenic in fruit juice.)

    That said, in any work environment there is a collection of people and the environment is the sum total of their negotiations. If someone complained even once about my perfume, I would be sure to wear less and not to wear that particular perfume at all. I don’t want people around me to be uncomfortable. I also don’t make rude remarks to the people who smoke within 20 feet of our buildings (even though they are not supposed to), because I know for the most part they are trying to respect my wishes not to breathe their cigarette smoke as well. If I were wearing massive amounts of perfume, I would imagine they would have the right to complain, just as I would if they were smoking in my office (or right outside my window). We don’t do these things to each other, and everyone manages to get along.

    • Obviously you did not take a look at the long list of chemicals used in fragrance. Nor the short list of common chemicals and the effects that they cause. Yes many cleaning chemicals are toxic. And often because of the fragrances used in them as well as just making them more toxic than they are to begin with. But the chemicals in fragrance just as toxic if not mroe so due to the hundreds of combined chemicals that can be used in just one fragrance.

  21. People who wear perfume and scented products have a deep shame about themselves, their bodies and their natural odors.

  22. Take a long look at the “disclosed” ingredients used in fragrance by going to the International Fragrance Association website: www. ifraorg.org/ en-us/Ingredients_2

    Yes some are natural ingredients but only a small portion. Tell me that you have researched all of these chemicals and know that they are safe. You can’t, because most are not.

    The following 3194 materials have been reported as used in fragrance compounds in 2008 and updated in 2010. For some natural materials there might be multiple entries possible, e.g. due to providing US CAS and EU (EINECS) CAS numbers and because sometimes one CAS number does cover more than one extract from different parts of a plant.

  23. Why are chemophobes always so loud? Nancy, do you believe natural to be better than “chemical”? Your last few comments seem to lean that way.
    The chemicals you copied and pasted are mainly naturally occurring ones…

    IFRA are the regulatory association for fragrance ingredients, both chemical and natural. So there is a regulatory body, even though you insist there isn’t. You’ve even posted a link to them. The manufacturer has to disclose ingredients on the label which have been deemed allergens, so people who are sensitive to those ingredients can avoid them. There is no need for them to disclose every single ingredient, as they are not all deemed allergens – they are tested and as more reactions occur, may well be limited in the future. Banning everything is absurd.

    For the side effects to be caused which you’ve listed, you’d need incredibly high doses to be on you or inhaled, and there are limits to how much can be in a fragrance for this reason. Did you know (just one example) that fragrance manufacturers are only allowed to put a small amount of citrus oil in scents now: so little in fact that when you peel an orange you get more of the oil on you than you would from applying the fragrance!

    For what it’s worth, I get more perfume on me in one day than most people. I work in a perfumery. If I was to feel like I was being chemically assaulted I’d work in a different industry.

  24. Let me start by saying that of course the use of chemicals in perfume, cleaning products and so on and so forth should be regulated (which it is quite effectively in Sweden).
    Still you have to keep in mind that EVERYTHING is toxic (and frequently carcinogenic) including pure water and sunlight. It’s just a matter of dosage.
    Life itself is toxic and in the end it kill us all.

  25. Everything is a chemical. Water is a chemical. Oxygen is a chemical. So calling something a “chemical” doesn’t mean it’s toxic to our bodies. Just sayin’!

      • Paracelsus said “Poison is in everything, and no thing is without poison. The dosage makes it either a poison or a remedy.”

        And as for natural and the whole ‘at least I know where it came from’ ethos – natural ingredients are still extracted using petrochemically derived solvents (or supercritical carbon dioxide, which is awesome, but expensive). Not to mention the chemicals that go into separating the desired compounds from the other gubbins that gets extracted.

        Also natural doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not harmful – hence the reason most doctors prescribe synthetically made medications versus natural/herbal remedies. Not only are they more effective, but their dosage is better controlled, thus minimising the potential for harm.

      • Thank you for your comment.

        It seems that good old science proves that there really is nothing to worry about, and of course there are regulatory bodies, such as IFRA, who ensure that known allergens are either banned, or their dosage is restricted.

  26. As I have mentioned before, I have very severe allergies to perfume. Perfumes give me painful rashes that look like bruises. And you know what? That’s my responsibility. Should we stop making bread because there are people with gluten intolerances? (The answer better be no, because I will cut anyone who tries to take my bread away from me.)

    I actually don’t think that “PC” (politically correct) is an appropriate term for the “perfume wars”, because political correctness is supposed to be about protecting people who are socially disadvantaged or stigmatized. People with allergies are not minorities, for Moses’ sake.

    • Agreed.

      It’s all about acting in a REASONABLE way, people with allergies need to be mindful of the fact that the entire world isn’t going to change for them, and people who wear perfume need to be considerate of others.

      Common sense people, common sense.

  27. Sometimes you have an easier life if you just stop arguing. I’ll assume Nancy never cleans her home with ‘chemical’ laden products, washes her clothes in washing powder and never drives a toxicity laden car.. it’s just better to try and be tolerant of others. But before this debate turns into the Nancy show, I’ll agree wholeheartedly that squirting yourself with powerful fragrance that sprinkles over others is not on, but just smelling nice, generally, by using perfume, is acceptable in society and has been since the year dot. Allergies are difficult to live with and I sympathise, but am really starting to wonder if sufferers worried less, they’d suffer less.

  28. Pingback: Monday Question – Which Perfumes Do You Wear To Work? | Olfactoria's Travels

  29. This is a great discussion!!!!
    We could all wear masks, and that would solve the problem ; )

    I don’t believe in banning perfume. I do believe in respect, and think everyone should consider where they are, and whom they are around.

    I had a roommate once who on a light day, sprayed five sprays of Obsession!!!!! I LOATHE Obsession, and don’t like to smell it to this day. Personally I think five sprays is excessive, but not ban worthy.

    Where DOES it stop? There will always be something to fight against and complain about.
    If a person is wearing too much of something, and is offending someone, then they should be approached in a respectful manor, be told what is going on. If there is respect, and open communication, then no one will feel violated or oppressed. There is always a solution, and everyone can have what they are wanting.

    BO and bad breath are far more offensive to me than even the most obnoxious perfume. If I find a smell offensive, I move away from it the best I can. I will even cover my nose, but I realize that in a working environment, that that is not always possible.

    I am fortunate that I don’t have an office or hospital job, so I don’t have to worry myself about a ban. I do teach yoga, and I do like to consider others, and certainly don’t want to offend anyone, as I don’t want to be offended by another. I usually get compliments on what I wear though. If someone does not like my scent, I am not hurt by it, and I will consider whether I will wear it again, depending upon who it is and how often I see that person.

    At one point, I wore Aromatics, which is very strong, and apparently horrible to some. I was in a short term situation where this person I was working with, was always kind of short, and almost rude to me. Finally I asked him what the problem was. He told me, “I don’t like your perfume!!!!!”. It certainly made me think about how I affect others, even if it is via my scent.

    Anyway, thank you for this discussion.

  30. I find it amazing that the people that have commented and are upset that a ban would be an infridgement of their constitutional rights are probably the ones that are making all the others in their area sick. It is a known fact that people that wear the same cologne for a period of time can’t smell it on them so they keep putting more and more on – killing all the other people around them.

    I thought the discussion was on banning smells in the workplace. Did you know that a Detroit DJ won over $100,000 in a suit because their employer did nothing about the excessive wearing of cologne/perfume. By doing nothing, the DJ sick time increase and affected their voice (their voice is their job – remember).
    I get headaches from a girl sitting in the next cubicle. Is it my place to tell her to stop wearing it? No – it is up to HR or Management but it is my place to let them know my job and my health is being effected by this excessive use.
    This is not just about perfume/cologne – why would anyone have the need to burn smelly candles in the workplace? At least my HR acted on this one – why because SEVERAL employees complained. I am waiting to see how they handle the perfume issue.

    • Hmmm. I don’t think anyone has said that it’s an infringement on their constitutional rights per se. It’s more of a case that an alright ban on perfume in the workplace is an incredibly extreme, reactionary method to solving a small problem.

      Now I do agree that it’s not necessarily your responsibility to deal with the issue directly, there are of course appropriate channels, and if a particular person’s perfume habits are causing you problems and you don’t feel comfortable telling them directly then speaking to HR or your line manager would be the obvious course of action.

      That said, I do feel that these things are best dealt with through informal channels. Having a reasonable and open dialogue with a colleague can have a more dramatic effect than going through formal channels, which occasionally causes more problems in the long run.

      As for scented candles, they shouldn’t be allowed because they are a fire hazard, so that’s a no brainer.

  31. I disagree with you in regards to handling one on one. Do you work in a corporate environment? With personalities ranging from the meek to the agressive your chances of the one that is “perfume excessive” listening to your request can be received in many different ways (I saw how she reacted to her candle request!). You are then force to live with their response or then go to Human Resource. In the latter case that person then knows who went to them. Depending on your working relationship (same department, management, etc.) that relationship can be strained – causing a whole new problem.

    • I do work in a corporate environment and I am a Human Resources Advisor by trade.

      I think it does totally depend on the working relationship you have with that particular person, hence why I said you should approach HR or your line manager if you don’t feel comfortable approaching the person directly.

  32. I don’t care if I’m putting chemicals on myself – I’d rather die younger but happier! (and perfumed)

  33. I find it quite amusing that someone called this the “Nancy” show when there are fare more posts by others. Perhaps the “attack Nancy” show. Because I am telling the truth that none of you want to hear. Because it is a threat to your addiction.

    It is quite obvious that most of the posters here are addicted to fragrance chemicals. Yes, emotionally, psychologically and physically addicted. Emotionally because you think you need it to feel good about yourself. You can’t imagine not using it. You think it’s just because you “like” it. Psychologically, because you have been brainwashed by advertisers and marketers who have convinced you that you will smell better if you use their product. That you will smell bad if you don’t. That using their product will make you prettier, more handsome, and more attractive to others particularly the opposite sex. That if you don’t use it you will smell of body odor. Make no mistake; millions of dollars are spent to convince you of this and more. Physically, because yes there are chemicals intentionally used in fragrance that are physically addictive. They make you want and need to use them and without them you go into withdrawals. There are chemicals intentionally used to desensitize the odor senses so you will always have to use more in order to smell them. If you can no longer smell them you will use more, buy more and they will make more money.

    Yes some natural substances are harmful. Yes some lab created chemicals are not harmful. The dosage does not necessarily make the poison. Some of the chemicals used are harmful at even one molecule. Even when a natural substance in the fragrance industry is used it is often solvent extracted and chemically processed to the point that it is no longer the original substance and is no longer harmless. In addition there has been little to no testing of the chemicals in fragrance being used when combined. There can be up to 500 chemicals in just one fragrance. So up to 500 chemicals in the fragrance of your perfume, up to 500 chemicals in your shampoo, up to 500 chemicals in your hair conditioner, up to 500 in your deodorant, etc. How many fragranced products do you use daily? Perfume/Cologne, deodorant, after shave, shampoo, conditioner, body wash/soap, hair gel, hair mousse, hand/body lotion, hand sanitizer, laundry products, cleaning products and so on. Each one just increases the toxic load. On you and those around you. Never mind that the combination of all of these different fragrances together often smells horrible. And most of them are made with the cheapest mostly lab created chemicals. They use phthalates to make the fragrance stronger and to last longer. Phthalates have been found to disrupt the endocrine system. Several phthalate compounds have caused reduced sperm counts, testicular atrophy and structural abnormalities in the reproductive systems of male test animals, and some studies also link phthalates to liver cancer, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s 2005 National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.

    Yes I do use as many non-toxic and safe products as possible. I make many of my own personal care products with safe, organic ingredients. I clean and do laundry with the same. I store my organic, locally grown (and often grown in my own garden) food in glass, not plastic. I eat only organic produce, and locally raised, grass fed/organic meats. I do try to use as many safe products as possible. Someone accused me of this as if it is a bad thing. No, it is a wise thing. And I feel it is my responsibility as a resident of this planet. To do no harm to myself or others around me, to pets, wildlife and the environment. How is that a bad thing?

    Many posters here have the attitude of everything is toxic so why bother. Because, no not everything is toxic. And why shouldn’t you be responsible to do the best that you can. If your car got a dent in it parked somewhere would you just say oh well, it’s got a dent and then just take a sledgehammer to beat the crap out of it?

    Also the posters here want to believe that it is an allergy which it is not. If you convince yourself that it is an allergy rather than a harmful substance then you can blame the other person for being allergic. If you admit that it’s harmful and that you are harming others than you would have to face the fact that you are not taking responsibility for that and it’s on you. And of course you don’t want to do that because then you would have to take action and change what you rare doing or you would be irresponsible. And selfish and uncaring, etc. So convince yourself that it’s and allergy and you don’t need to take responsibility for what you are doing to people around you, your pets, wildlife and the environment. It’s their fault, not yours.

    Do you realize that 2nd hand fragrance is just as harmful? Your perfumed coat left in a room. The chair that you just sat in for a meeting (fragrance now embedded), the telephone handset, etc.? Are you aware that the chemicals end up coating the inside of the nasal passages of those around you? Those that do not use them and do not want to use them. That their clothes and hair smell of fragrance when they leave your environment and must be washed often several times to remove the odors?

    The fact is that you are using chemicals that are released into the air and that are harmful. You are negatively impacting those around you. You can choose to take responsibility for your actions. The people around you do not have a choice. They are subjected to your poor choices and addiction. Many, (and yes there are thousands) suffer headaches, respiratory distress, nosebleeds, migraines, stupor, inability to think straight, confusion, extremely high/low blood pressure, seizures and unconsciousness to name a few when they are exposed to even the smallest amounts of your fragrance. These are not tales, these people are real and they deserve to be at work, at a movie, in the grocery store, etc. without having to suffer because of your choice to expose them to these harmful substances. No they should not have to wear a mask, or become a hermit in their homes. They are not doing this to themselves. You are doing it to them. So have some compassion and respect for others and stop thinking only about yourself.

    The IFRA is NOT a regulatory agency. It is an association made of fragrance companies, associations, etc. The following statements are taken from their website. As they say below 8 billion dollars a year in the U.S. alone. They do not care about your safety or well being. They care about the money. The money that they are making off of YOU. Millions are spent on getting you to use them and buy them. They could care less if it’s harming you or those around you. There is a push currently and legislation presented to require outside agencies to test and regulate the chemicals used in fragrances. Because currently there is NO REGULATORY agency for fragrances. The 2 major bills presented in the U.S. are the Toxic Control Substances Act and the Safe Cosmetics Act. These will help test and regulate chemicals in fragrance as well as those used separately in these products. In California they are working on a bill to provide Safer Consumer Products.

    “The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) was founded in 1973 in Geneva to represent the collective interests of the fragrance industry.”

    “We actively represent the fragrance industry in relevant international fora and towards our major stakeholders. We lead and coordinate an international network of regional and national associations who act as the authorized representatives of the fragrance industry.”

    “Self-regulation enables the IFRA standards to be adopted very rapidly by fragrance houses worldwide and by the industry as a whole.”

    “The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) comprises national and regional associations, whose members include fragrance ingredient and compound manufacturers and suppliers.”

    “Currently IFRA’s Association Members include Australia (FFAANZ), Brazil (ABIFRA), Columbia (CISF), Indonesia (AFFI), JAPAN (JFFMA), Mexico (ANFPA), Singapore (FFAS), USA (IFRA North America) and Europe (IFRA Europe). European Association Members are members are: Germany (DVRH), France (PRODAROM), Italy (Federchimica Assospecifici), Netherlands (NEA), Spain (AEFAA), Switzerland (SFFIA), Turkey (AREP) and UK (BFA).”

    “As well as association members, IFRA also has six Regular Members who are multinational fragrance companies. They pay their membership dues directly to IFRA. They are: Firmenich, Givaudan, IFF, Robertet, Symrise and Takasago International.”

    “IFRA represents an 8 billion US$ industry, which serves luxury and consumer goods.”

    It is quite clear that the people who hang out here do not want to hear about this, recognize this or seek the truth about this. They only want to continue to satisfy their own selfish wants, needs and addiction. With no thought to the facts that they are taking action that harms others around them. I can only hope that one day you will wake up to what you are doing to yourself and others and perhaps make a decision to change. Or perhaps one day you will suffer the same and it will be too late then. Nobody is born like this, it’s the chemicals stupid. So I will leave you to your selfish desires and addiction. I prefer to spend my time with intelligent, caring, aware individuals. This is a waste of precious time.

    • Nancy

      I won’t say too much in reply to your last comment because I believe that madperfumista has summed up my thoughts in a much better way than I ever could (see below). But there are a few things I would like to say to you:

      Firstly, it is clear that you have an agenda, whether right or wrong, that doesn’t fit with this blog. We are a community of perfume lovers and we appreciate perfume because we see it as a form of art, not because we believe that it will make us more successful, attractive or better as human beings. Have you ever sat and smelled Guerlain’s Shalimar in extrait form? I wouldn’t think that you have, in which case you probably can’t understand the pleasure that a well-crafted perfume can bring.

      This blog is my little space on the internet where I get to talk about my passion. The best thing about this blog is that I’ve managed to find a large number of people who share my interests and passions, a lot of whom I would consider my friends. So for you to come along and basically call us all stupid just because we don’t agree with your extreme views is not only incredibly rude, but it’s also unfair. I would not consider that anyone who reads or comments on my blog to be unintelligent at all. Hannushka, who so elegantly replied to your claims with knowledge of real chemistry, is my sister and she is currently studying for a PhD in Green Chemistry. I myself am currently studying for a masters degree and I know for a fact that many who read and comment on this blog are the same. So please, don’t go calling anyone unintelligent, because really all it does is make your argument look stupid.

      I would like to draw a line under this conversation now, as I feel that we have discussed the topic enough, and as madperfumista says this is not the right place to start some kind of revolution. I will be closing off the comments for this thread, but if anyone would like to get in touch with me personally then they can do so by clicking on the contact tab at the top of this page.

      Many thanks

      Thomas
      The Candy Perfume Boy

  34. A perfume blog is clearly not the right forum to have this discussion as it will be a waste of everyone’s time, including Nancy’s. Perfumes have been used for millennia. The practice of anointing oneself with scents derived from plants has probably been around since even before the Egyptians. There is clearly a human penchant for desirable smells, mostly determined by culture and history. The birth of modern perfumery in the 19th century coincided with the Industrial Revolution, when science came around to feed the desires of a new consumer society whose habits were influenced by marketing and fashion. Perfumed products that were once expensive and labor intensive to produce became cheaper and quicker to make under modern chemical and industrial techniques. Science has allowed us to recreate scents that were formerly harvested from now scarce natural resources like musk. There are now lists of ingredients that have been banned from the perfume industry because of negative impact on the environment as well as known allergens that have been tested by governmental agencies (most rigorously in Europe). Advocates of the perfume industry are of course against these actions, but most have innovated to the point where they reformulate perfumes so that they adhere to these requirements, much to the displeasure of perfume fans who become accustomed to the characteristics of a particular scent.

    When it became clear that the ozone layer was being depleted because of the use of aerosol sprays, industries changed the way they did business and now it’s not as much of a problem. Here in America, we still have trouble convincing people that global warming is a real problem that needs to be addressed. Even Al Gore couldn’t do it! If what Nancy is saying is true, then her comments should be directed not only at the perfume industry, but at all industries that manufacture scents for our diapers, our laundry detergents, and our food. This is a tough issue to argue on a blog, because we writers and readers don’t have the power to transform an industry worth billions.

    Yes, perhaps we are dupes of capitalism, lulled into a fantasy that money will buy us happiness. But Nancy, you are seriously barking up the wrong tree. I don’t see why it was necessary for you to get up in arms about this issue here, inciting insults on both sides. This is way bigger than you, me or any of the people who read this blog, one I might add that is moderated by someone who cares about his readership, and derives a great deal of satisfaction from the dialog he creates here. That you chose this particular blog to air your grievances is disrespectful to him and to his followers. You are calling for a revolution that simply cannot start here, not because we are selfish and stupid as you seem to believe, but because there are forces at work here for which we are not to blame.

    I am not saying that it is wrong to suffer from righteous indignation. We all have things in the world that we wish to change to improve our lives and also the lives of generations to come. But this is not the right way to do it. Perhaps you should consider starting your own blog.

  35. Pingback: Perfume in the Classroom « Scents of Self

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