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perfume blocks access  RSS feed

 
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Do you think it is possible to get shops to keep perfumed stuff away from the entrance (and the till)?  

Here's me.  About a decade ago, I developed an extreme reaction to certain scents and chemicals (soy and petroleum based).  I know you won't believe how bad it is because about three years before I got sick, I met a man who went into full on anaphylactic shock when exposed to specific plastic molecules.  I didn't understand or believe what he was saying.  At least I didn't believe it until I saw it happen - man that was scary and I am extremely grateful my reaction isn't that bad.  Basically, the immune system gets confused and some plastic molecules look an awful bit like dangerous proteins (or so my limited understanding is - my friend is a top researcher for a university and tried to explain it to me... I'm just not bright enough to understand it on a molecular level - I'm more, scent thing make body go bad).  For me, it causes shock symptoms (the body shuts down all unnecessary organs, like the brain).  The severity of the reaction depends on the concentration of the gas.  I say it's perfume because that's what people can understand - they can understand what they can smell - but actually, it's the VOCs that effect me, but since most perfumes also contain these, we'll focus on scents.  

There are other reactions people can get from scented products from asthma attacks, allergies, hay fever, migraine, seisures... it's a surprisingly long list, some of these are life threatening.

Sensitivity to chemicals and scents is a recognized disability by many governments, including mine!

Now, if I had a health problem that put me in a wheelchair, and I went to a shop and they did not have wheelchair access, then that shop would have a major fine for preventing access.  They may even lose their business license.  There could be a civil court case.  

Same with many of the other disabilities - a business preventing access to a person because of their disability, then this is a big huge no no.  

Let's say I want to go to a drug store to pick up some prescription medicine.  I cannot.  I cannot enter a drug store because of the perfume products in the entranceway.  There are many big chain stores that sell scented products and they put these products in the entrance way.  Some people with asthma, emphysema, and other breathing conditions also cannot go into shops like this. To me, this is blocking access.  Simply because one cannot see the disability like with a wheelchair, doesn't mean it isn't there.  


I'm not looking for major changes.  Shops are going to sell stinky stuff, people are going to put stinky perfumed stuff on their bodies and clothing.  I can't change that.  But maybe the shops could move the stinky stuff to one or two areas away from the entrance and the till.  Do you think that's possible?  Is there some way we can make these shops aware of this problem and the possible solution?

 
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I also can't stand strong perfume - strong unnatural scents can trigger migraines.  I got one just yesterday from some ink on an ad flyer that came in the mail.  Ill for hours.

 
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I find I don't have much use for those stores anymore, anyway
 
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This. I'm so sorry that you, Raven and Tyler, have struggled with this! Paul and I have struggled a bit, too, though not nearly so severely.

We watched Stink! the movie and made a podcast about it (here's Part 1 and Part 2). In the documentary, they profiled a high school student that had life-threatening reactions to Axe body spray. Talk about restricting access:  he could no longer attend public school despite the school's efforts to communicate and request that the students not wear the stuff.

Today, I ran across more support for how these chemicals limit people and make them seriously ill: an article that refers to and gives even more examples like the movie Stink. The author, Heather Poole, even took a picture with the Stink movie guy, Jon Whelan:


Wake Up and Smell the Formaldehyde:  How everyday products are making us sick

Three quotes I found compelling from Poole's article:

That feeling that you can’t think may not be due to fatigue but to someone’s perfume or candle or dryer sheets they used. “You’re not getting old,” I want to tell my friends when they become forgetful and make jokes. You’ve been exposed to too much toxicity — I mean ‘fragrance.’”


This toxicity has affected me personally. About two years ago, American Airlines rolled out a new uniform that made over 5,000 employees sick. I’m one of those employees. That’s when I started studying toxic chemicals to understand what was happening to me and thousands of others who were made sick by a uniform — or, more precisely, the toxic chemicals used to treat the uniform to keep it wrinkle-free and more durable. Think formaldehyde, stain repellent, water repellent, etc.


The assumption of safety that most of us live under is false. [emphasis mine]



Maybe with more and more people being affected and getting publicity about it, some changes will be made in stores, in policies, and in public awareness. I hope.
 
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We have talked to a number of store clerks, managers, and owners about this issue. Some are delighted to help. Some are clueless.
 
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I have a VERY sensitive nose (I can tell when they've watered the plants in the office - which everyone else thinks is weird and funny - how can they not smell the wet dirt?) and some allergies/reactions (thankfully nothing like you are describing) and it definitely makes it difficult in many ways.  I can control exposure at home and mostly don't shop at places where it is an issue.

I'm grateful that my team mates at work are responsive and careful to either not use scented products or only when I'm out or early before I arrive (I can tell when they've used it an hour before but it fades enough not to make me sick).  When employees who are heavy smokers come in to see me, my eyes water and I sneeze and being in an enclosed space is worse.  No, I'm not getting sick - you need to stop smoking.  (The last time this happened in my boss' office, she "fixed" it by spraying a ton of Lysol.  :(  I had to go work in a conference room for a couple hours while that cleared out.)

It is not just "chemical" sprays either.  Somehow, people think if it's "natural" it shouldn't be a problem.  People bathe in essential oils or burn incense and it's supposed to be a good thing.  A woman broke a bottle of essential oil all over the floor at checkout a few weeks ago and thankfully I was notified before I stepped in it.  But she hastened to assure me it was a lovely and natural and shouldn't be a problem for me.  No, I don't want that on my shoes and therefore all over my car and my carpet at home... no idea how I will react and then I'm stuck with it.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Sonja Draven wrote:
It is not just "chemical" sprays either.  Somehow, people think if it's "natural" it shouldn't be a problem.  People bathe in essential oils or burn incense and it's supposed to be a good thing.  A woman broke a bottle of essential oil all over the floor at checkout a few weeks ago and thankfully I was notified before I stepped in it.  But she hastened to assure me it was a lovely and natural and shouldn't be a problem for me.  No, I don't want that on my shoes and therefore all over my car and my carpet at home... no idea how I will react and then I'm stuck with it.



This, too.

Paul is super sensitive to the scents in essential oils. We once had a cook here who would have migraines triggered by overly strong scents of any kind, even essential oils. Then she was in bed three days recovering. Poor thing.

A little while ago I had some stinky B.O. that was bothering me. It would show up rather randomly (hormones, detoxing? I don't know!) and was not a "clean sweat" smell - it was rank. I didn't want to wear any deodorant, because even the salt stick stuff was irritating my underarms. I just wanted a natural, mild scent to mask it just a little, to feel a little better (and less like a fat, stinky slob!). So I found a lovely tiny little jar of what I thought was a mild, soft, all-natural scent that I could put on to feel slightly less stinky. It was from our local organic grocery store and was infused in a balm of base/carrier oils that were oils I am happy to use on my skin. It even listed the essential oils....but then the very last ingredient was "fragrance."

Now I learned from the movie Stink that anything listed as "fragrance" is quite questionable, or dangerous even. Not something I want to expose myself to, let alone others.

I'd also tried an essential oil blend from an organic grocery store. I thought I could put a few drops in my own carrier oil and use that to have a lovely, uplifting scent. That essential oil blend also had unknown "fragrance" ingredients!! Gah.

It's like buying olive oil or honey and it's not really ALL olive oil or ALL honey in the bottle. Shysters!!

So, yes, in a variety of ways, and even when truly/correctly/explicitly labeled, I agree that essential oils are not useful as replacement to lab-created fragrances. I think just plain water, and washing the bad smell away, instead of covering it up, is the healthiest, safest choice. Plus, a lot of times, those bad smells are trying to tell us something.


 
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When I need pharmacy type items, I usually just buy online to avoid the store.  If it is for a prescription, I go to the branch that has a drive up window.

That is one of the reasons I really appreciated Anne Miller's recipes for air fragrances that use things like cinnamon sticks, used coffee grounds and vanilla.  We were really impressed with how well it worked with no nasty side issues.  Sometimes you just need to cover the fragrance of wet german shepherd without triggering a migrane...
 
Sonja Draven
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I'm sorry, Jocelyn, that's rough!  I hope you are able to figure out the cause and fix it.  

You may have already tried this but my BIL has had good success with (I think apple cider) vinegar.  Just spritz under the arms after washing and once it dries it is pretty neutral or non-existent odor (unless then he smells like vinegar).  He does have to wash and reapply after major workout but he is a pretty pungent fellow without anything and it does the trick.
 
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I'm sensitive and get migraines from a lot of "chemical" scents, and had to work with my manager to ensure that our workplace would not install air fresheners as mandated by the company.  I told her I would honestly rather smell feces any day than be forced to breathe poisons and end up with allergic reactions and migraines.  She agreed, and I'm really glad.  It becomes a human rights issue and if it became more of a problem I could petition my company to go scent free.  Now all I have to worry about is young ladies who I share an office with wearing scents that make me sneeze!  I mentioned Stink in the discussion about avoiding commercial beauty products a while ago, and this is what I would recommend to anyone who uses commercial, scented products.  People have no idea what they are absorbing through their skin and airways, and how it affects those around them who may just be too polite to tell them why their eyes are watering.

In experimenting with essential oils I have discovered an allergy to ylang-ylang, which is sad because it smells so pretty 😕 people often assume it is the smell of something that is bothersome, and dont realize the debilitating physical effects of an allergy or migraine induced by exposure.  I love the smell of ylang-ylang, but I'm definitely allergic to it.  Just like I love bananas, but will break out in hives if I eat them.  It's not a preference, it's a necessity to avoid these things.
 
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Thanks for bringing this topic up.
I had this a lot as a child, to the point of refusing to go into certain people's houses because of the "smell"!
I was not a subtle child.
My daughter gets this as well,  but her senses are tuned differently.
I think it can be a very individual thing.

I currently washing and brushing my teeth with coconut oil.
I use a nylon house paint brush to apply it to skin and a cotton wash cloth to remove it.
After years of suffering skin,  my body is pretty happy with what I put on it.

Strangely, the unrefined version gives me a reaction, maybe it's too acidic/basic?
The antibacterial nature of the oil keeps my pit fumes mostly in check.
The downside is the residual oil on the washcloth turns "soapy", leaving a smell my wife hates...
I'm working on a fix for that, meanwhile separate washcloths for me.
I'm looking into adding charcoal to the mix,  as an odor absorber and environmentally friendly, mildly abrasive  "microbead" good for teeth or armpits,  bad for white shirts?
I tried baking soda in this role,  but it is too strong for my skin.

My family knows that artificial scents sicken me,  they try to keep that in mind.
Even essential oils can make me feel fatigued, or worse.
I'm not sure how this effects works, smelling this stuff is even worse than "just"breathing it.
I've had to work in industrial settings and retail, and thus I can be quite the mouth breather!
I'll even see people coming and take a breath to exhale after they pass me.
I certainly find the scent of human sweat less objectionable than clouds of artificial scent.

Meanwhile,  I can work around wood smoke or smoke from cooking,  and mostly  not even notice it.

The apple cider vinegar, I wonder if the combination of an acidic environment plus the living beasties growing in it, suppress the odor causing bacteria.
Kind of  like spraying a stinky barn down with lacto-bacillus brine😊
I'm going to try it.
If it works, all the more reason to start making my own vinegar.
 
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