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Scents and sensibility

Illustration: head breathing that shows a scents concept

Statistics Canada estimates that 2.4 per cent of the work force have chemical sensitivities that cause physical reactions, many of them serious enough to affect their ability at work. Also, at least 15 per cent of the population is estimated to have lesser reactions to fragrances, such as asthma and headaches, which also affects their ability to work.

Exposure to fragrances and scented products can trigger serious health reactions in individuals with asthma, allergies, migraines, or chemical sensitivities. Fragrances and scents are found in a wide range of products including perfume, aftershave, deodorant, soap air fresheners, fabric softeners, laundry detergents, facial tissues, and candles.

It is a personal choice to use fragrances or scents; however, it is important to recognize that the chemicals from which these are created become airborne. The chemicals vaporize into the air and are easily inhaled by those around us. Today’s fragrances and scented products are made up of a complex mixture of thousands of toxic chemicals which can contribute to poor indoor air quality and serious health problems.

What can you do to help?

  • Be considerate of those who are sensitive to fragrances and scents.
  • Avoid using scented products in the workplace.
  • If you must use a fragrance or scented product, please use it very sparingly. A general guideline for fragrances and scented products is that they should not be detectable more than an arm’s length away.
  • Avoid using products such as air fresheners or diffusers in your work area.
About Andrea Murik
Andrea Murik is a teacher in District 23, Grand Erie and is a member of the Health and Safety/Workplace Safety and Insurance Act Committee.

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