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Fragrance Sensitivity Awareness

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Fragrance chemicals can have negative health effects. People with allergies can develop irritant-induced asthma as a result of repeated exposure to fragrance chemicals. Contains citations to dozens of research articles, abstracts and Web sources, with many links. Updated September, 2016

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  • That is a fantastic slideshow. Very informative, with great links and research to back it up.
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Fragrance Sensitivity Awareness

  1. 1. Sharing the air in the workplace
  2. 2. Fragrances can trigger serious health reactions in others:  Scented products can be respiratory irritants and allergens, causing:  asthma attacks  allergic reactions  headaches  migraines  sore throats  coughing  eye irritation … and other medical symptoms. (U.S. CDC, 2009; Wöber et al, 2006).  Personal fragrances affect some individuals the same way cigarette smoke affects some people. (De Vader, 2009).
  3. 3. Commonly-used fragranced products include:  Laundry detergent  Air fresheners  Shampoos  Hair spray  Skin care products  Body lotions  Body spray  Potpourri  Scented candles  Antibacterial hand soap  Hand sanitizer  Antiperspirants and deodorants  Dryer sheets  Moisturizers and hand cream  Wipes  Disinfectant aerosols  Cosmetics  Perfumes and colognes  Aftershave  Some essential oils extracted with solvents  Razors with scented handles or gel strips  Cleaning products (Schlueter, 1979; De Vader, 2010; Dodson, 2012)
  4. 4. What is in a fragranced product?  Any one fragranced product may contain 50-300 fragrance chemicals (Bickers, 2003).  Fragrance formulas are considered trade secrets. Companies are not required to reveal their formulas. Many of the chemicals are not FDA approved. (U.S. FDA, 2005).  More than 2600 chemicals can be used in fragranced products, including many that are known irritants and allergens (Bickers, 2003; Buckley, 2007; “European Commission,” 2012).  Among them are formaldehyde, toluene, benzene, acetone and many other irritant chemicals (Woolf, 2006).
  5. 5. Fragrance chemicals affect indoor air quality (EPA, 2012). They include:  volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), respiratory irritants that evaporate readily into the air (Dadd-Redalia, 2012).  chemicals shown to be neurotoxins (Anderson, 1998).  Phthalates  These plasticizers are used to dissolve and carry fragrances.  Phthlates are endocrine disruptors that can affect reproductive and thyroid hormones (Dodson, 2012).
  6. 6. Fragrance chemicals are getting stronger and more pervasive:  The combination of numerous minor irritants and allergens in a product can result in significant allergic and asthmatic reactions in some people.  Fragrances in some products are now time-released, so the scent persists (De Vader, 2010).  Products such as laundry detergent can contain fragrances lasting for weeks after application.
  7. 7. Fragrance chemicals are lung irritants:  One in 11 children and adults (9%) in New York State currently has asthma (New York State Department of Health, 2009).  Fragrances can trigger asthma in about 72% of people with asthma (Shim & Williams, 1986).  Asthma is a chronic lung disease. Avoidance of lung irritants is key (NYS Health Dept., 2009; American Lung Association, 2011).  Exposure to fragrances can greatly reduce lung function in asthmatics (Anderson, 1998).  Colleagues and students with sensitivity to fragrance chemicals can experience decreased quality of life when exposed to these irritants and allergens (Ternesten-Hasséus).
  8. 8. Fragrance chemicals can cause new cases of asthma in susceptible adults:  Repeated exposures to various fragrances throughout the day can increase sensitivity and cause adverse health reactions in some people (Schnuch, 2010).  Repeated exposure to respiratory irritants such as fragrances can cause new cases of asthma in adults (Kogevinas, 2007).  About 17% of adult-onset asthma is caused by workplace exposures (Torén, 2009).
  9. 9. If you use scented products:  What you may think is a light fragrance can be overpowering to people with fragrance sensitivities.  People may not detect their own fragrance if they use it consistently.  Ask others if your fragrance can be detected an arm’s length away.  A two-foot radius is considered one’s personal zone. Fragrance should not be detected outside your personal zone.  Your personal zone is greatly reduced in meetings, automobiles and other small enclosed spaces.  Awareness of fragrance sensitivity can go a long way in creating a pleasant and healthy work and learning environment. (“Fragrance Sensitivity Awareness,” 2011; NYS Dept. of Health, 2011)
  10. 10. To reduce health impacts of fragrance at work:  Avoid wearing fragranced products to work.  This includes laundry detergents, deodorants, fragranced “odor elimination” sprays and other personal products.  Avoid using fragranced products at work.  Abstain from using fragranced air fresheners, moisturizers, cleaning products, scented candles, etc. in the workplace.  Use home-made cleaning products made of baking soda and white vinegar at work.  Consider using fragrance-free products.  Check the label for the words “fragrance” or “perfume.”  “Unscented” or “fragrance-free” products may still contain masked fragrance chemicals.  Check product labels for chemicals known to trigger medical reactions. University of Tennessee’s Fragrance Sensitivity Awareness brochure lists common irritant/allergen fragrance chemicals.
  11. 11. Fragrance Sensitivity Awareness Summary:  Fragranced personal products can cause medical distress in some people with allergies, asthma and migraines.  They can actually cause new cases of asthma in some people.  Your colleagues and students have the right to breathe clean, healthy air at work and school.  Consider ways to reduce the strength and number of scented products you wear to work.
  12. 12. Thanks to the University of Tennessee’s Safety Office for permitting the use of content from their Fragrance Sensitivity Awareness brochure. Mark D. Smith, Director Environmental Health and Safety University of Tennessee Knoxville, Tennessee Susan Fiscor, CIH, CSP, CHMM UTIA Safety Office University of Tennessee Knoxville, Tennessee
  13. 13. For more information: For scholarly journal articles, abstracts, links, handouts, unscented alternatives and more, see: Fragrance Sensitivity Awareness http://fragrancesensitivityawareness.weebly.com/ Research Links: http://fragrancesensitivityawareness.weebly.com/research-links.html This slide show was researched and written by Joyce Miller, Distinguished Professor of Library Science. Joyce Miller has been a reference librarian for more than 25 years. She has earned a Master of Library Science, a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Administration and Management, and a Certificate of Advanced Management Studies. Slide show created August, 2012. Last update: September, 2016.

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