Policies re Fragrance-Free Zones


U.S. Access Board

Arthouse Preschool, LLC

Athabasca University, Calgary Learning Centre, Calgary, AB, Canada   :  http://www.bctf.ca/internal/AdminServices/MeetingRoomPolicy.pdf

Athabasca University, Edmonton Learning Centre, Edmonton, AB, Canada  : http://lss.athabascau.ca/advising/CLC_exam_misc.php

BC Teachers Federation- Section 7.9 : http://www.bctf.ca/NewsAndEvents.aspx?id=22455&libID=22445

The Bay Area Country Dance Society

Boise Natural Health, Inc.

Bow Valley High School

Brant Community Healthcare SystemFragrance free policy Canada Hospital

Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston

Brock University

Environmental Sensitivities  |  Fragrance Recommendation/Policy  |  
There may be a co-worker or student in your area whose health is being negatively affected by the personal products you use. Please be sensitive to these needs by not using or at least minimizing your use of fragrance products at the University. In response to the needs of consumers, many
products today offer fragrance free alternatives. Individuals who wish to self-identify their work area as fragrance free, may use the Fragrance Free Zone Sign, which you can download, print and post in your area. Those with significant fragrance-related health effects may wish to contact Environment, Health and Safety at oehs@brocku.ca to arrange more formal accommodation, where possible.
Other Environmental Sensitivities
Workers exposed to substances such as latex or mold and who have sensitivities to such substances
should contact staff in the Environment, Health and Safety at oehs@brocku.ca

Broward Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs Division

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

Canadian Mennonite University Scent-Free Policy

Canadian University CMU scentfree

Cecil College

Citizens for A Safe Learning Environment

City of Detroit

Colby Village Elementary School, Halifax, NS, Canada 

Cosmic Laugh

DHS Oregon Fragrance Guidelines

David Thompson Health Region:  Scent Free Workplace Policy

Digby Regional High, Digby, NS, Canada

Evergreen State College

Fargo South High School

Francis Holistic Medical Center

Harrison Medical Center, 2520 Cherry Avenue, Bremerton, WA

Healthy Schools Project Advisory Committee, Peel Region, ON, Canada

Hotel Dieu Hospital

Jefferson City Public School, MO

Landmark East (International School for students with learning disabilities), Wolfville, NS, Canada 

Massachusetts Nurses Association

McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada 

Meadowbrook Elementary School, Coquitlam, BC, Canada 

Mercy Medical Center

Minnesota HB 2148, “Fragrance-Free Schools

Minnesota Schools H.F. No. 2148,  as introduced – 85th    Legislative  Session (2007-2008) Fragrance Free Schools Pilot Project

Missouri, Matt Blunt, Governor – Governor’s Council on Disability

Mount Saint Vincent University 

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Accessibility for United Methodist Churches

New Brunswick Board of Education, School District 8

New Mexico EMS/First Responders

North Seattle Community College

Northeast Kings, NS, Canada 

The Nova Scotia Environmental Health Centre

Portland Police Call Center Fragrance Free Policy

Portland Police Records Dept Fragrance Free Policy

Portland State University

Public Service Alliance of Canada BC

The Seattle English Country Dances

Shutesbury Elementary School, Shutesbury, MA

U. S. Census Bureau

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

University of Calgary Scent Free Awareness Program, a joint health promotion project of University of Calgary Indoor Air Quality Committee, Calgary, AB, Canada

University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada  

University of King’s College, Halifax, NS, Canada 

University of Prince Edward Island Occupational Health and Safety, PEI, Canada Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT)

University of Toronto

University of Toronto (St. George campus)

University of Toronto School of  Social Work

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 

University of Washington, Prof. Tom Kerns’ Classes

University of Waterloo Campus Sustainability Assessment. Framework Guide, Waterloo, ON, Canada

University of Windsor, Faculty of Nursing, Windsor, ON, Canada

University of Windsor, Faculty of Nursing, Windsor, ON, Canada

Vernon Barford School, Edmonton, AB, Canada 

Women’s College Hospital (Canada)

York University

More and more establishments are becoming aware of the problem. The problem is still to get individuals to change who visit the establishments.  We need more retailers to tell manufacturers that the products they are providing to the public are not safe and healthy.

REPRINTED FROM invisibledisabilities.org

Fragrance Free Zone

fragrance-free-zoneCreating a Fragrance-Free Zone – A Friendlier Atmosphere for People Living with Environmental Illness

© 2006 – 2013 Invisible Disabilities Association.Order This Pamphlet

Did you know there is a growing number of people who can become ill from simply running an errand in a store, going to work or attending a gathering? Simple tasks that most of us take for granted can cause this group to have mild to severe medical reactions. Even their own homes and work environments can lash out at them.

Why is this happening? “Approximately 12.6% of the population suffers from multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), a condition in which they experience reactions from exposure to low concentrations of common chemicals…”(1)

MCS (also known as Environmental Illness or Toxic Injury) is “…marked by multiple symptoms in multiple organ systems (usually the neurological, immune, respiratory, skin, ‘GI,’ and/or musculoskeletal) that recur chronic-ally in response to multiple chemical exposures. MCS Symptoms commonly include difficulty breathing, sleeping and/or concentrating, memory loss, migraines, nausea, abdominal pain, chronic fatigue, aching joints and muscles, and irritated eyes, nose, ears, throat and/or skin. In addition, some with MCS show impaired balance and increased sensitivity not just to odors but also to loud noises, bright lights, touch, extremes of heat and cold, and electromagnetic fields.”(2)

The numbers of Americans battling MCS  seem to be rising quickly. Most with MCS tell a story of once being healthy and not effected by fragrances. “MCS usually starts with either an acute or chronic toxic exposure, after which this initial sensitivity broadens to include many other chemicals and common irritants…”(3) Many experts have found that once a  person become reactive to a chemical or toxin, their intolerance is rarely reversible.

Furthermore, “In 1998, it was estimated that 26.3 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma.”(4) Asthma is a serious respiratory disorder that can constrict and cause swelling of the airways. “The Institute of Medicine placed fragrance in the same category as second hand smoke in triggering asthma in adults and school age children.”(5) What’s more, “Up to 72% of asthmatics report their asthma is triggered by fragrance. Asthmatics and others that are negatively impacted by fragrance often have difficulties working, obtaining medical care, and going about activities of daily living because of others’ use of scented products.”(6)

For those living with asthma and/or MCS, just going to work, a meeting or an activity may expose them to chemicals that could make them ill. These reactions can be very serious and have changed the lives of millions. Because they have to avoid public situations and even having people in their own homes, they can also experience isolation, loneliness, lose their jobs and may even become homebound.

What Chemicals?

Most of us are aware that such things as pollution and car exhaust fumes are not good for us. We even realize that sometimes a work environment, like a lab or factory can be hazardous. However, most do not even think twice when entering a building, automobile or even a home that may contain new paint, car smell, carpet or mold, glue, stain, vinyl upholstery, plastic, rubber, smoke, household cleaners, etc.

Moreover, the culprits most of us will never even give a thought to being bothersome are our sweet smelling   perfumes, colognes and fragranced products. But aren’t these made from natural ingredients like flowers and herbs? Actually, “Perfume formulations changed sometime around the late 70s and early 80s. Today, they are approximately 95-100% synthetic (man-made).”(7) Even seemingly harmless fragrances in our favorite soap, deodorant, lotion, powder, candles, air freshener and laundry products can cause reactions for many.

For the average person, short term exposures to these environmental, every day household products and perfumes may only seem “bothersome” on occasion. Nevertheless, many people claim they never believed they had an issue until they suddenly or gradually developed their sensitivity or intolerance after normal use of these items.

Author Connie Pitts explained why, “Perfumes, colognes, and many other scented products contain an abundance of harmful chemicals, many of which are listed on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste List. They also include numerous carcinogenic chemicals, neurotoxins, respiratory irritants, solvents, aldehydes, hundreds of untested and unregulated petrochemicals, phthalates (which can act as hormone disrupters), narcotics, and much more.”(8)

What Can We Do?

Because many with asthma, MCS and immune disorders risk becoming ill when they go to work, to run errands, to a doctor’s office or when attending a gathering, we can all do our part to help.

  1. For our own wellbeing and for the sake of others, we can discontinue the use of products containing VOC’s, synthetic fragrances and harmful chemicals.
  2. Make meetings and events Fragrance-Free for all to enjoy. This can be done simply by posting this information along with the notices for the event in bulletins, emails, websites and flyers.
  3. Office or building management can ask the  cleaning crew to start using natural cleaning products like baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide or environmentally safe products. Moreover, they should not use “air fresheners” in the building or bathrooms. Instead, exhaust fans and air purifiers can do the job.
  4. Office or building management can create a list of people who are sensitive to chemicals and fragrances. They would then call people on the list when someone paints the walls, shampoos the carpet, replaces the carpet, gets new furniture or uses glues, insecticides, stains, polishes, etc. In addition, signs should be placed on the doors to notify all employees and customers of the use of these products.
  5. Before visiting someone in their home or inviting them to ours, we should ask those living with asthma, chronic illness, immune issues, MCS and/or allergies what fragrances, lotions, soaps, deodorants, candles, air fresheners, detergents, cleaning products, etc. they can and cannot tolerate.
  6. For added protection, a Fragrance-Free Zone can be implemented.

Creating a Fragrance-Free Zone

A Fragrance-Free Zone is a smoke, fragrance and chemical free area, designed for those who report mild to serious reactions to these items. Adding a Fragrance-Free Zone can help many in our community work and frequent your establishment in comfort.

At first glance, we may not think there are enough people who struggle with these issues to justify the hassle of providing a Fragrance-Free Zone. However, for every 100 people in America, there is an average of 10 with asthma, 20 with an autoimmune disorder and/or 12.5 with MCS.

Here are 3 basic types of Fragrance-Free Zones that can be implemented in the office or business:

Fragrance-Free Zone #1: Building, Office or Store Policy. Establish a policy of no perfumes or fragrances worn by employees inside the building. In addition, the use of non-toxic cleaning supplies, natural pesticides, etc. can be included. This concept is becoming more and more popular among businesses, doctor’s offices and churches, because it makes it possible for many to work in or visit your building. Many medical facilities and religious organizations are also asking patients and congregations not to wear fragrances.

Fragrance-Free Zone #2: Separate Room in Workplace. This is a separate room or floor of a building for employees that provides extra protection from fragrances, as well as paints, glues, formaldehyde, mold, smoke and chemical cleaners. It is sealed off with walls, a door to a direct entrance and exit. It also contains a Fragrance-Free bathroom and a break-room (if space permits).

Fragrance-Free Zone #3: Section in Office. This is a simple and quick way to set up a section in the office. Designate several rows of desks just for those with chemical sensitivities. You can post signs to signify that this section is a perfume, cologne, fragrance and smoke free zone. Put this section in an area where they can have easy access to an outside entrance and away from high traffic areas.

Please note that just creating a “section” within a room is not always a viable answer. Perfumes and  fragrances can permeate the air and waft through the area, as well as linger in the hallway, lobby and bathrooms. “Scented products are volatile substances and get into the air quickly. Once in the air, containment to a defined space is impossible. Further, scented products are designed to diffuse into the air and linger.”(9)

Finally, “According to the AARDA, approximately 50 million Americans [or] 20 percent of the population… suffer from some 80 autoimmune diseases.”(10) Thus, for the benefit of all around us, particularly those with immune disorders, when we are sick with a cold or a virus, maybe we should consider staying home. After all, l we could infect several more people, who in turn infect several more people – causing them to miss work, activities and maybe even be hospitalized.

Consequently, even when we are just “coming down with” a virus or we are “getting over” something, we can still be contagious. If we cannot stay home from work, we should at least steer clear of other people, especially those with immune issues.

Thank you for your desire to create a safer environment, so that millions of people can live better lives, with fewer boundaries! Without everyone’s help, going to work or entering a building can put many at risk of having mild to severe reactions that may last several hours or even several weeks. With it, many can lives with less risk of exposure.

(1) Brandon Adams, “More than 12% of Population Reports Extreme Sensitivity to Low Levels of Common Chemicals. Journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), (September 2003): ehp.niehs.nih.gov/press/12pop.html  (accessed June 15, 2005). Body
(2) MCSRR, “Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome- Fact Sheet,” Introduction.
(3)MCSRR, “Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome- Fact Sheet.” MCS Referral and Resourceswww.mcsrr.org/factsheets/mcsdisorders.html  (accessed June 15, 2005). Introduction.
(4) ALA, “Asthma: FAQs.” American Lung   Association of Texas http://www.texaslung.org/educationalresources/diseases/asthma/asthmafaq.htm (accessed August 13, 2005). Introduction.
(5) FPINVA, “Fragrances by Design: Materials that quickly get into the air.” Fragranced Products Information Networkwww.fpinva.org (accessed August 13, 2005). Introduction.
(6) FPINVA, “Fragrances by Design: Materials that quickly get into the air.” Introduction.
(7) Connie Pitts, “Featured Author. Connie Pitts – Get a Whiff of This: Perfumes (Fragrances) – The Invisible Chemical Poisons. Integrative Ink. www.integrativeink.com/html/articles/archiveauthorcpitts.phtml (Accessed June 15, 2005). Body
(8) Pitts, “Featured Author Connie Pitts.” Body.
(9) FPINVA, “Fragrance Facts and Fiction.” Fragranced Products Information Network www.fpinva.org/text/1a5d908-101.html (accessed August 13, 2005). Body.
(10) AARDA, “Press Release: Autoimmunity Named a Leading Cause of Death Among Women in New Study.” American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association www.aarda.org/press_release_display.php?ID=10 (accessed June 15, 2005). Conclusion.

2 thoughts on “Policies re Fragrance-Free Zones”

  1. I just had a question and was wondering if you could help me out with an answer. I work at a call centre conducting online surveys. I had a pretty bad allergic reaction to a fragrance someone sprayed as they did spray a lot. I started getting a headache, which then lead to bumps and irritated skin. As the problem worsened I went to a Team Leader because I started having a hard time breathing. The first response the Team Leader gave me was “so go home then”. I got really upset and said no problem I will leave if this is how your going to deal with a situation like this. And he then said “what do you want me to do call the ambulance?” I then told him that many people may be severely allergic to different things. And you telling me to go home wouldn’t stop or prevent something like this from happening again. The workplace should be suitable for all of your employees. I left work and had to go to the hospital because of how bad the problem was. So my question is, are all call centres a sent free zone? And whom should I take this problem to next as I don’t feel safe going to work and having this happen to me again.

    1. Dear Shelly, I am so sorry that I have not been active on this web site and that, for some reason, your note did not go to my e-mail box!

      Where you live matters in terms of filing a tort claim if you are fired arbitrarily–wrongful termination. Each state has different laws when it comes to torts, unfortunately. But, this is the last resort unless your workplace is adverse out of ignorance. Educating in the area that affects behavior change does not happen overnight. But education is essential in changing behavior.

      You have mentioned the problem to the Team Leader. He may have mentioned it to his supervisor. The supervisor may have mentioned it up the line. I do not know your institution. Some institutions are proactive, others are not.

      The problem with MCS is that there is a mindset among the medical community that the problem is psychological and not physiological. It is the latter but often leads to the former as well. It depends on how well we cope in a positive way with what is happening to us.

      You may even find it difficult to find an attorney who would handle the case because it could be in his/her view not winnable. Look what happened to those who filed against cigarette smoke in the workplace.

      Personnel can be provided with information and a copy of the ADA. Unfortunately, the problem is handled on a case-by-case basis. Yet, tort law should not put the burden on the injured to prove intent.

      I cannot advise you. Remember that legal advice is what you need to pursue if you have been wrongfully terminated. But if you think you can work within the system to bring about change, that is the best and safest route. Even think of getting a letter from your doctor. Hopefully, he/she is sensitive to your condition..acknowledges that it is caused by toxins in the fragrances. You may need to get an official diagnosis of MCS from your doctor. The ADA provides an avenue for safety for people with disabilities and a remedy but it is not smooth sailing. I can only offer you caveats to consider.

      What is the source of the fragrance? Is it an employee? Is it the air freshener? You can go to ewg.org to find out what toxins are in any of the products being used.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

From a Yellow Canary of the 21st century, living in our disabling biosphere

%d bloggers like this: