How does one tell a loved one "don't sit near me. Your perfume makes me sick?" That is the quandary I find myself in too much of the time lately. Having just returned from a visit to see my family, I spent most of my time explaining that I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but fragrances make me very ill.
Most people don't even know they have a fragrance on their body. They assume if they do not douse on a bit of cologne or perfume, they are completely fragrance-free. They forget the hairspray they used just before leaving home, the scented deodorant, the shaving cream, the scented soap, the lingering fragrance of detergent and fabric softener in their clothes.
"Well, what can I do," you might ask. "Everything we buy has fragrance in it."
We can read labels and learn what is in our products. We can ask our grocery store and our drug stores to have an aisle with Non-scented products. Yes, there are non-scented ones out there.
Those of us who suffer with respiratory illness due to chemical fragrances are not the only ones who are being harmed.
What about the baby brought home from the hospital to a nursery with an
"air freshner" plugged into the wall emitting damaging fumes for the child to breathe. What about the baby blanket washed and dried in chemically fragranced detergent and fabric softener? What about the chemicals his mother has ingested for the past nine months through her clothing, her cosmetics, her cleaning products? The baby has those chemicals in his body when he is born.
In Canada now we find some fragrance -free areas in hospitals because many of us are made sicker inside a hospital with the harsh chemical cleaners and the fragrances used there. Some churches are becoming fragrance-free. This is happening because we are becoming aware of the health issues.
At my house and my studio, I ask everyone to refrain from wearing fragrance. But at times, my ultra sensitive system reacts to something on them - their clothes, the perfume they wore yesterday, or even three days ago. I can't tell them what it is, but I know I must get away from them.
People who sing have long known that perfumes and other fragrances are bad for them. Choir members are told to never wear fragrance to choir practice or to church service.
We would never ask this of anyone if there was not a darn good reason. If these fragrances are making me sick, it won't be long before they are making others sick as well. I am one of the canaries in the coal mine. And there are about 30 million of us now.