Odor Tyrants: Those Sensitive To Scent Fight Back - More From M...

Full story: NBC 11 San Francisco Bay Area

Karen Kraig has been known to raise a stink about strong smells. The Sept. 11 attacks caused the Manhattan financial consultant's already acute sense of smell to go both ballistic and bronchial, leaving her ...
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1 - 14 of 14 Comments Last updated Feb 9, 2009
linda

Toronto, Canada

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#1
Mar 31, 2008
 
This has nothing to do with scents being pleasant or not. It has to do with the chemicals these fragrances are composed of. Many of these are neurotoxic and carcinogenic, causing CNS disturbances, etc. and are now more prevalent than fresh air.
These ingredients are not tested for inhalation effects on the brain.
Research has shown that once people's detox mechanisms have been damaged, they're no longer able to handle the chemicals found in fragrances, laundry products, pesticides, etc.
Some of those are poisons, and they add up. Our bodies were not designed to handle the amount of poison in our air these days.
The same people who promote drug avoidance policies think nothing of plugging in air-fresheners or wearing clothing laundered in chemicals which emit VOC's with narcotic, neuro-toxic effects.
Kids no longer need to waste their money on drugs to get into altered states. They can just open the closest fabric softener bottle and inhale.
lacimayh

Laurens, SC

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#2
Mar 31, 2008
 
"I understand that there are people who've been exposed to hard core chemicals and have legitimate issues," says Carly Sommerstein, a 42-year-old production editor in New York who became extremely scent-sensitive during her pregnancy. "But I think there's a whole other group of people who are just using this to boss everybody around. They're moving away from chemical sensitivity to chemical entitlement."

Having MCS myself I have a hard time believing people are just trying to be bossy etc. I think it's time we blamed the manufacturers of the products who inundate us with toxic scents in our shampoos, perfume, detergents, dryer sheets, apparel, components, paints, anything rubber and anything plastic...the chemicals have gotten stronger and we're suffering the consequences.
Barbara Rubin

West Dover, VT

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#3
Apr 1, 2008
 
I am sorry to see such poor coverage of this material by MSNBC. If you look at the information available in mainstream medical resources, you will see up to 5,000 chemicals may be used in fragrances yet you never see them on a label. It
is not the 'aroma' that is the problem but the fact that everyone has a different degree of ease with which toxic chemicals can be metabolized when they enter via the skin, lungs and nasal sinuses.

One study showed that synthetic fragrances reduce EVERYONE'S lung function by an average of four percent via its irritant effects. If you begin with less function or have asthma (38 million Americans have compromised lung function), you are going to be at a serious disadvantage in the average, scent-ridden environment. I suggest the consultant interviewed be asked as to who funds his research. The answer will not be patients but industry trying to justify the use of toxic chemicals in their products to make them more attractive to consumers.

Fragrance is an innappropriately benign term for a conglomeration of untested chemical substances used by an unregulated industry (cosmetics). It is not sensitivity but toxicity that leads people to cope poorly with it. I recently published an article on the subject in a trade journal for indoor air quality experts (Indoor Environment Connections). My sources of information were from mainstream medical and government agencies.

MSNBC - you are capable of better research than this.
Ellen Pickett

North York, Canada

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#4
Apr 1, 2008
 
I don't consider my need for breathable air to be "chemical entitlement." If the fabric softener residue on your clothes clouds my brain so that I cannot think, remember, or move my body, or if your fragrance causes me to cough so much I choke, am I really being unreasonable in wanting people to avoid sharing these chemicals with me? I have to wear a mask everywhere I go outside my house, but I can't wear a mask comfortably for many hours in a row. Why do I have to do all the accommodating for people's addictions to toxic chemicals?

Scientists have recognized the harmful effects of sidestream tobacco smoke, and that is why it is getting harder for smokers to find public spaces where they are allowed to smoke. Eventually, scientists will recognize that the chemical stew that people are using and spreading into our air, water, and land, are also harmful. It just happens that some of us, with asthma or multiple chemical sensitivities, react to lower quantities of these chemicals than the rest of the population.

Why don't people understand that "clean" has no smell? Clean is not a fragrance. It is a lack of dirt and odour. Layering fragrances on top of dirt does not make things clean.

Restricting the use of fragrances and other toxic chemicals does not only make life easier for people with strong reactions to chemicals. It also helps people who are currently unaware that their headaches at work or their allergic sneezing are actually due to the toxic chemicals in their environment. And could it be that the increase in development disorders in the young are the direct result of their constant exposure to toxic chemicals too?

Remove those chemicals, and everybody becomes healthier.
Beth

Bloomington, IL

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#5
Apr 1, 2008
 
You all are complaining about strong smells from shampoos, perfume, detergents, dryer sheets, apparel, components, paints, ect. If you think you have the right to aks me to NOT wear my perfume, use my products, then by that same thought, I have the right to ask you to take a shower to prevent smelly body odors. If you don't that must mean I have the right to ask you to leave my place of employment, home, or general seating area in a movie, church, theater, or any other place you may be if I find the smell offensive. I personally would rather deal with a heavy fragrance than the heavy smell of an unwashed body. Buck up and live with it... the rest of us do.
Janine

Portage, MI

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#6
Apr 1, 2008
 
Buck up and live with it? Wow. So long as your breathing and asthma is not affected, than all is well, right Beth? Would it take someone having a fatal asthma attack for you to realize that your personal "liberty" to use toxic products is far outweighed by a person's ability to breathe? Again, ability to breathe, or personal preference. I think the answer is obvious.
Beth, I certainly hope you are getting your mammograms because all these chemicals found in your products and fragrance are also found in breast cancer tumors. Just because they aren't harming you now, does not mean they never will. The ingredients in fragrance are toxic and often carcinogenic (cancer causing) and good for no one. Perhaps you should stop emotionally reacting and start investigating what is in the products that may potentially cause you great harm.
linda

Toronto, Canada

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#7
Apr 1, 2008
 
What some people fail to realize is that this is NOT about smells, strong or otherwise.

It's about the chemical ingredients that are used to create those "smells", and what effects they have on our nervous system, endoctrine system, respiratory system, brains, etc.

The human body was not designed to function well when impaired by synthetic substances, over 80,000 of which are now circulating in our air, water, soil and bodies.

Carbon Monoxide and formaldehyde don't smell, but they can kill you, or cause permanent damage.

Chemotherapy might kill the cancer, but recent reports are also saying that people end up with brain fog and other long lasting health problems as a result.

Fragrances have become a problem because of what they are made of these days, and what those ingredients are doing to human health.

Masking agents (chemicals) that are added to some products so they can claim to be unscented, can be just as harmful to our health as others that do have a detectable smell.

I don't enjoy other peoples stinky sweat, any more than the next person, but covering it up with toxic chemicals doesn't seem to be the smart thing to do to make it better.

Stinky sweat can be caused by digestive problems, which might be caused by chemicals in our environment affecting our digestive enzymes... but even if those smells were strong enough to make me throw up, I would recover as soon as I got away.

The chemicals in fragrances and other products however, can cause seizures or even brain damage that can take days or months to recover from, if at all. Depends on the state of the systems our bodies use to function.

Being poisoned is not the same as having hay fever.

Synthetic chemicals that are used to make fragrances these days are from the same source as what you fill your car up with.

They used to think car exhaust was ok too, that "the solution to pollution is dilution".

Problem is, we continue to put incredibly huge amounts of volatile chemicals into our air, and now we've run out of fresh air on this planet. Not enough trees left standing, too much pollution.

The only way we can solve this is by ceasing to pollute, using products and materials that are not harmful to human health, and planting and caring for more trees, which as far as I know, is the only way to make fresh air.
So, do your bit, lay off the synthetic fragrances, and care for a tree.
Ellen Pickett

North York, Canada

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#8
Apr 1, 2008
 
Pardon me, Beth, but what makes you think that people with multiple chemical sensitivities don't shower? That's a stupid assumption, unwarranted by any data.

Based on my own experience, as well as what many other people with MCS have reported, I would venture to suggest that people with MCS shower more often than "normal" people, because we have to remove the chemicals our skin picks up from the air, furniture, public transit, etc., that we share with people like you, as soon as we return to our safer abodes. We can't afford to let those chemicals be absorbed through our skin into our bodies. Nor do we wish to have those chemicals transferred from our skin to our own homes.

The difference is that we shower using earth-friendly, non-toxic, fragrance-free products. These products are usually harder to find and more expensive than the fragranced chemicals that a lot of people unfortunately choose.

And once again, might I point out that "clean" is an absence of odours and dirt, not a layering of fragrance on top of dirt. After a shower, I smell of nothing except clean hair and skin. Can you say the same thing?

And yes, I do use a deodorant, because I don't like the smell of sweat that much either. But my deodorant is made of natural substances, and it has just a slight smell, of lichen.

However, given a choice, I would choose sweat over the effects of the chemicals that fragrance users emit. But my point is that people with MCS do not smell of sweat any more than people who use fragrances do.
SMS

Antioch, CA

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#9
Apr 2, 2008
 
They're damned either way, deodorant or not, someone's not going to be happy.
Denny

United States

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#10
Apr 2, 2008
 
Good point, people who get lung cancer from smoking can't actually point to the one cigarette that was the cause and we clearly recognize that risk!!
Janine wrote:
Beth, I certainly hope you are getting your mammograms because all these chemicals found in your products and fragrance are also found in breast cancer tumors. Just because they aren't harming you now, does not mean they never will.
akimbo

Delta, Canada

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#11
Apr 3, 2008
 
The Canadian Lung Association (lung.ca) has a great package that you can get for free that describes how to develop scent-free policies for the workplace. The package includes nice signs. Having the Lung Association endorsement takes it out of the personal realm and into the public. http://tinyurl.com/2nbcna
Nancy

Sacramento, CA

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#12
Jun 7, 2008
 
Unfortunately this is where a lot of the problem lies. Ignorant idiots like you who think that you have a right to expose everyone around you to the toxic chemicals you love and are addicted to. Many posts here have explained intelligently that thes chemicals are "TOXIC". Apparently you do not understand the meaning of this word.

Body odor while unpleasant is not TOXIC. Hellooooo? And most people who do not want to be exposed to toxic chemicals in personal products do not have these issues. They are clean. Clean in the real sense. Not smothered in toxic chemicals but cleansed with healthy non-toxic cleaners.

I suspect that it is you who is using toxic chemicals to cover up your uncleanliness and body odor problems.

Hopefully soon you and your kind will be banished to the same places that smokers now are.
Beth wrote:
You all are complaining about strong smells from shampoos, perfume, detergents, dryer sheets, apparel, components, paints, ect. If you think you have the right to aks me to NOT wear my perfume, use my products, then by that same thought, I have the right to ask you to take a shower to prevent smelly body odors. If you don't that must mean I have the right to ask you to leave my place of employment, home, or general seating area in a movie, church, theater, or any other place you may be if I find the smell offensive. I personally would rather deal with a heavy fragrance than the heavy smell of an unwashed body. Buck up and live with it... the rest of us do.
Jeff

Los Angeles, CA

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#13
Nov 25, 2008
 
Beth, you are a fool. Just bathe daily and rinse your snatch often, and you will not need to use the petro-chemical scents that affect 30% of the population as though you were wearing unleaded gasoline. Get a clue, idiot. daily
Beth wrote:
You all are complaining about strong smells from shampoos, perfume, detergents, dryer sheets, apparel, components, paints, ect. If you think you have the right to aks me to NOT wear my perfume, use my products, then by that same thought, I have the right to ask you to take a shower to prevent smelly body odors. If you don't that must mean I have the right to ask you to leave my place of employment, home, or general seating area in a movie, church, theater, or any other place you may be if I find the smell offensive. I personally would rather deal with a heavy fragrance than the heavy smell of an unwashed body. Buck up and live with it... the rest of us do.
KRB

Minneapolis, MN

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#14
Feb 9, 2009
 
My father and I are both scent sensitive. A whiff of perfume, scented candles, air freshener and the like and we are down with a migraine of epic proportions. I wish folks like Beth would have to experience one of these excruciatingly painful headaches, then she would understand how much taking a bath in her perfume affects the people around her, everywhere she goes. On a recent trip to a popular theme park in Florida, we were constantly innundated by someone's overpowering cologne, even outdoors. I'm not asking people not to wear scent. I'm asking them to be aware of people who are sensitive to it, and not wear it when they are going somewhere where they will be in an enclosed space with other people such as theme park rides, theaters, restaurants, airplanes, buses, etc. And also, USE SCENT SPARINGLY! Just because you are desensitized to the smell of your cologne and can't smell it as well anymore doesn't mean the rest of us are. The number of people walking around wearing so much scent you can smell them coming, going, and for 10 or so minutes after they pass you is alarming! And, this goes for men, as well as women. The man sitting behind me on the flight back was wearing enough scent that the whole cabin could smell him! Think about it, is wearing that much scent really that important?

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