by John P. Thomas in Health Impact News.
Secondhand fragrance contamination should be the number one health problem being addressed by the public health system in America, but it doesn’t even show up on the list of current priorities. Some people love the smell of chemical fragrances, but 30.5% of the general population find the smell irritating. Another 19% reported adverse health effects from breathing air that was contaminated with these odours.
Thirty years ago, we were facing the need to address secondhand tobacco smoke. Today, the problem we must face is secondhand fragrances which come from perfume, cologne, air fresheners, scented laundry products, and hundreds of other products containing fragrances. The dangers of secondhand cigarette smoke have been well established. Both public and private organizations have policies that limit smoking to outdoor locations or to personal spaces such as private cars and residences.
However, the use of perfume, cologne, air fresheners, and scented laundry products has become so commonplace that the indoor air quality of public spaces is more toxic than it was when people could freely smoke tobacco wherever and whenever they wished. The term “secondhand fragrance” is used to describe the combination of smells that are released into the public air space from the scented products that people use on their skin, hair, and clothing. It also includes products that intentionally add fragrance to the air such as air fresheners and scented candles.
The fragrances are called “secondhand,” because a decision of one person to use fragrances pollutes the air for everyone. People who don’t use fragrances, or who can’t tolerate fragrances, are then forced to breathe the contaminated air that everyone shares.
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