Lynn Lawson, PR Chairwoman Multiple Chemical Sensitivities: Health & Environment. June 6, 2000
EVANSTON -- The ban on fragranced products in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is not the trivial or amusing issue that some media make it out to be. On the contrary, fragrances are known to doctors, scientists and the fragrance industry as respiratory irritants. People suffering from asthma, allergies, chronic sinus problems, rhinitis, chronic lung disease and multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) have their health problems triggered and exacerbated by exposures to fragranced products.
Perfumes have been used for centuries; what is new is that since World War II most of them are made from petroleum, not flowers. In 1986 the National Academy of Sciences targeted fragrances as one of six categories of chemicals that should be given high priority for neurotoxicity testing. Cosmetics are largely unregulated, with only voluntary testing of safety by industry, which considers fragrance ingredients to be trade secrets.
Last year two women who had been forced by exposures to perfumes to leave jobs they loved pooled their resources and sent samples of a popular perfume to an independent lab for testing. The lab found the fragrance part of the perfume to consist of 41 synthetic chemicals, of which five are toxic; the rest are of unknown toxicity. A People's Petition has since been filed with the FDA, asking it to observe its own rules, which say that any cosmetic product "whose safety is not adequately substantiated prior to marketing" should bear a warning label.
So far the FDA has done nothing. In the meantime, we are all being exposed to countless fragranced products unless we choose to buy only the unscented products
that are now readily available.