From Environmental Health and Safety - Dalhousie University, Halifax:
MYTHS & MISCONCEPTIONS
Common myths and misconceptions about scent sensitivities and allergies:
1. The fragrances from personal care products contribute to a person's individuality, self-esteem, and sense of well-being. Scent-free programs threaten these aspects of personal identity.
While the fragrances from personal care products can be pleasing to some, they also can be unpleasant and even harmful to others. Few would disagree that little pleasure or satisfaction can be derived from learning that these fragrances are causing harm to other people, especially when it is harm that could have been avoided.
2. I've heard that it is fine to wear scents, as long as they remain within my 'scent-circle' (i.e. I use only enough fragrance that can be smelled by others within an arm's length of me).
The 'scent-circle' is an idea which sounds good but which does not work very well in the real world. Have you ever stepped into an empty elevator, a hallway or room and been able to tell that the person before you had been wearing perfume or cologne?
As molecules of fragrance chemicals evaporate from your skin, they do not stay within an arm's distance of you. They are picked up by the currents of air that constantly move around us, and the fragrances dispersed into the atmosphere we all breathe. Fragrances are volatile organic compounds and it's their nature to waft in the air. Even if you sat very still in one place, you could not keep a circle of air containing the fragrance close around you.
Even if this myth were true, many public environments — the classroom, the workplace, the theatre, the gym — do not allow for people to be at an arm's length from each other.
3. People with chemical sensitivities confuse dislike with disease.
If this were true, there would not be so many people with chemical sensitivities who report that they are most acutely sensitized to their favourite chemical fragrances—the ones they themselves wore for many years. This claim also fails to explain the reactions of people who have lost their sense of smell due to disease or trauma, but continue to have reactions to the chemicals that they can no longer smell. The Nova Scotia Advisory Committee on Environmental Health and other expert groups who have researched the area have concluded that MCS is an illness not a dislike or even a discomfort, in the same way that allergies, asthma and migraines are illnesses.
4. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity only seems to affect white, middle-aged women from North America. Therefore, its validity as an illness is suspect.
MCS does seem to strike women more often than men. Migraine headaches are also more common in women than in men. Based upon that fact no one would question whether or not migranes are a valid illness. Two recent studies have shown that, although women report being chemically sensitive twice as often as men, those reporting chemical sensitivities are otherwise evenly distributed with respect to age, education, income and geographic areas. Chemical sensitivities are also evenly reported among ethnic and racial groups.
MCS is not limited to North America. In both Germany and South Africa, government and medical officials have fully accepted MCS as a recognized illness.
5. Health Canada knows of, tests, and approves, the entire contents of fragranced personal care products. Therefore, it's perfectly safe to wear them.
Although Health Canada allows these products for use, this in no way provides a guarantee that some people won't have reactions to them. If scented products are making people with allergies and chemical sensitivities sick, then clearly they are unsafe for some and it makes good sense to take reasonable steps to avoid this harm.
""We Share the Air"
Dalhousie - a Scent-Free/Smoke-Free Environment"
Early school report of John Gurdon:
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2012
Sir John B. Gurdon, Shinya Yamanaka
Sir John Bertrand Gurdon, FRS, FMedSci, is an English developmental biologist. He is best known for his pioneering research in nuclear transplantation and cloning. He was awarded the Lasker Award in 2009.