- The Facts: Regulations on cosmetics and fragrances, like perfumes, are not quite strong and a host of toxic substances are used in their manufacturing. Over the years, evidence has emerged that these fragrances could be impacting our health in a negative way.
- Reflect On: With awareness growing, the market for non-toxic replacements for perfumes, and other products, has expanded tremendously. If you’re concerned, you can do your research and vote with your dollar.
If you have made an effort to remove as many chemicals from your life, be it in your food, cleaning supplies, personal care products and any other items you purchase, then you may have also found that the more you eliminate the more sensitive you seem to become.
Chemicals, unfortunately, are all around us and often this is entirely out of our control. Something as simple as someone’s deodorant can be a smack to the face if you are not used to being bombarded with these smells on a regular basis.
You may be surprised to learn that simply by smelling a scent, you are in fact inhaling tiny molecules of the said scent that is giving off the aroma. Yes, sorry to disturb you or gross you out, but this includes everything that drifts across your nostrils, yes – everything. Unfortunately, this means that even though you may do your best to avoid as many chemical toxins as possible in your own life, you are still exposed to them every time you step out into the real, chemical-laden world.
Fragrances Being Considered The New Second Hand Smoke
If you’re thinking this is a bit extreme, then there’s a good chance that you are still using an array of chemical products and thus you are somewhat desensitized to these smells. You know that strong smell of someone who keeps reapplying cologne, without taking a shower? They don’t realize that they still smell like their cologne from before and fail to realize that they’ve become to be known as, “nose blind,” to the smell and just keep adding on more so they can smell it. The result of this is a very strong-smelling individual that is somewhat offensive to anyone who has to endure a bus ride with this oblivious culprit.
How about walking into a gift store or candle store? That extremely pungent aroma just hits you as soon as you open the door, sure, some consider these smells sweet or nice, but they are for the most part in fact, toxic. Natural essential oils and scents tend to be a lot more mild, smoother and enjoyable; this is likely because they are not created from a bunch of chemicals derived from petroleum in a lab.
It took decades for the workplace to acknowledge the dangers of smoking and to recognize the deadly effects of exposure to second-hand smoke. Once acknowledged, it was a few more years before the workplace became safe for all workers from the dangers of second hand smoke. We propose in this paper that fragrance is following the same trajectory. To date most of the research on fragrance exposure has been localized in the health care profession and has not received the necessary attention it deserves in the management literature for managers to become knowledgeable about the extent of employer liability and what constitutes a good faith effort to protect workers. This paper serves as a much-needed bridge to fill this vital gap in managerial knowledge. Current laws (e.g., Americans with Disabilities Act, Workers Compensation, and OSHA regulations) are identified that can be applied to fragrance exposure. The relevant laws and subsequent court cases are analyzed and the legal liability they create for employers with employees exposed to synthetic fragrance in the workplace are clearly identified. We also provide recommendations for organizations who want to demonstrate a good faith effort and be proactive to reduce or limit employees’ fragrance exposure in the workplace, before being sued We present the results of several organizations that have some experience with addressing the issue in their workplaces and identify the lessons learned We conclude by recommending actions employers can take to proactively respond (react) to common situations of exposure that arise for employees with fragrance sensitivity.
This Is About Much More Than Just Strong Smells & Sensitive Noses
Inhaling these chemicals that are coming from fragrances can cause damaging health effects if we aren’t cautious, but first it’s important that we become aware of the risks. Fragrances or perfumes have been treasured for thousands of years, although in those days they were often derived directly from plants as pure, therapeutic essential oils that were sometimes worth more than gold.
Today, many of the chemical-based perfumes we are using are still highly regarded as prized possessions, are often a small fortune to purchase, and yet they contain synthetic chemical compounds that have been linked to respiratory issues, diabetes, obesity, ADHD, autism, and hormone disruption.
These synthetic smells come in many forms and aren’t limited to only perfumes or cologne, they are almost always added to scented candles, car and home air fresheners, laundry detergents, personal care products, cleaning products and many more everyday products, many of which you may have not even realized. Even many products that are labeled as “all-natural,” simply aren’t and that word is nothing more than a marketing ploy designed to make you feel like you are purchasing a good, wholesome product for you and your family.
So, What Should We Do?
Of course the first step towards creating any kind of change is by raising awareness. So, getting educated on the matter and sharing it with your friends and family is a great start. Stress the importance of choosing only legitimately natural, pure, products made from organic, therapeutic-grade essential oils; or to simplify things and save some money, opt for unscented products. It would still be wise to check these ingredients and opt for plant-based cleaning supplies and personal care products. If you want to take this even a step farther you may want to consider making your own cleaning supplies and personal care products, this way you have absolute control and a complete and thorough understanding about what is actually in said product.
As awareness is growing we have been seeing more and more bans in regards to fragrance, The American Lung Association has created a fragrance-free policy for workplaces and schools in the United States. Also, many Universities and Hospitals are catching on and implementing similar bans.
The most important thing, which almost always is, is to put your money where your mouth is and vote with your dollar. Be sure to check labels, know what you are buying, know what you are using to clean your house and know what you are putting into your body. The less chemicals in your life the better you’re likely to feel and there’s a good chance that you will notice them more, but this is how we create change. We can all do our part.