EHN [of California]
P.O. Box 1155
Larkspur, California, 94977-0074

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A 501 (c) (3) non profit agency.


Live [work] the adage:
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Story yet to appear in The New Reactor
The New Reactor is in hiatus because I couldn't keep up with it and the database. I have tried to keep up with the website, The other board member who was extremely important to the newsletter's production was too ill to keep up that effort. No one stepped up to the plate, so the newsletter is on the bench for now. -- barb

While my sympathy is admittedly for the worker being forced from employment by unnecessary pollutants such as fragrances and pesticides (which are also scented so most folks don't complain about the odor), astute management can learn much from the following information. Petrochemical-derived fragrances do not "freshen" the air, nor do they "clean." Fragrances pollute the air, bodies of users and nonusers, and the water downstream where fish and wildlife can then be affected.

I fervently hope the information on this page helps workers, students, patients and others who are still fighting for their right to breathe air unpolluted by perfumes and other synthetically scented products, including the wide variety of personal care products for men, women and children, as well as products such as pesticides, fabric softeners and air "fresheners." I hope it will also serve Human Resources officers trying to learn more about fragrance sensitization and how to accommodate the person with it. While you may be accommodating only one individual now, you may well be sparing the health of untold others down the road . . . and saving your organization many dollars spent on staff as they take sickleave. Common reactions include cold- or flu-like symptoms.

"Accommodation" without access is not accommodation. This is what happens when any one individual is allowed to use and wear air-polluting perfumed products in the workplace that includes already scent-sensitized individuals, for which "accommodations" are supposedly being made. For the scent-sensitized individual, accommodation is an empty word without fragrance-free access.

Human Resources managers and other management staff, please keep in mind the quote, "Justice delayed is justice denied." Using delaying tactics and escalating the requests for accommodation to the point of unreasonableness serves no one, while denigrating your harbinger. Fragrance-sensitization is not "catching" but it is preventable. One never knows when one will encounter that one perfume exposure that puts one over the edge into extreme fragrance sensitivity. People do not "build immunity," rather their toxin thresholds lower.

Working toward "fragrance-free accommodation" may sound scary to the employer, but it need not be. LISTEN to your employee. Most solutions for that individual's level of sensitivity are easily achieved IF you have encouraged a polite, responsive workforce in the first place. Of course, if you gain your knowledge from the chemical industry front organizations and apologists, geared to stultifying the already fragrance-sensitized indivdual, you may find yourself free of that otherwise valuable but fragrance-sensitized employee . . . plus a few more whose bodies will react in other ways to the proliferation of nonessential products synthesized from hydrocarbons. Workplaces that strive to clear the air for all have noticed that their workforce is more productive and sickleave is used less often. True Indoor Environmental Quality makes economic sense. It makes health sense. It makes access a part of accommodation.

We, the already fragrance-sensitized people, ask that folks do not wear perfume, cologne, aftershave and other scented products including fabric softeners to work (healthcare facility, school, place of worship, etc.). We do ask that our colleagues, fellow meeting attendees, etc., use the versions of personal care products that do not contain petrochemical-derived fragrances, but that isn't asking for an unreasonable accommodation . . . not with fragrance-free deodorants and other products now openly advertised on radio and television and readily available in the market. We are not asking that our colleagues (managers, doctors and nurses, teachers, students, etc.) not use fragrances to their heart's content in their own homes. That is their proragative. But if they choose to use these products, which are released to market without full substantiation of safety, I suggest they use them only among nonpregnant, consenting adults. We also may ask that those who use scents wear clean clothes that are not saturated with fabric softeners or their various fragrances from previous occasions. But really, how outlandish a request is that?

The proliferation of petrochemically derived perfumed products pollutes the air. For all.

Save the air for the already chemically injured and you will save the air for the not-yet injured. Chronic diseases such as asthma and other upper and lower respiratory diseases, cancers, migraine and other headaches, Parkinson's, rheumatoid arthritis, etc., are as much an ENVIRONMENTAL ILLNESS as is MCS.

August 2004: The fragrance industry recognizes that perfumes "cannot clean the air." See RIFM RESPIRATORY SAFETY PROGRAM at

We ALL are stakeholders when it comes to breathing.

Best wishes to all of you! -- barb wilkie
EHN President

Access information -- see EHN's Take Heart!

Support EHN's Citizens' Petition brought before the FDA on May 11, 1999.

The still-current petition requests that the FDA follow its regulations already on their books and require warning labels on synthetic fragrances released to market without substantiation of safety. See the chemicals found via analysis with your very own eyes.

    Tell the FDA about your adverse reactions to synthetic fragrances. OR, tell the FDA that even though you haven't suffered adverse reactions that you've attributed to synthetic fragrances, you feel the public has a right to know about the chemials they are daily putting onto and into their bodies and the bodies of their children and grandchildren. Chemicals which also release into the air and which in turn can adversely affect the health of others -- including those whose astute doctors advise: Avoid fragrances.
    Reference "Docket Number 99P-1340/CP 1"

For more excellent information on health effects of fragrances, visit the Fragranced Products Information Network:

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The Environmental Health Network (EHN) [of California] is a 501 (c) (3) non profit agency and offers support and information for the chemically injured. In this section, EHN brings you a few stories that appeared in past issues of The New Reactor EHN's HomePage is