How Safe are Perfumes?
by L.M.S. Moffat, Burnaby, BC
AEHA Newsletter Spring,1991

Dear AEHA,

Thank you for this important article: it has helped me in a number of ways.  For one thing, I learned some helpful facts (eg. That the use of fragrance chemicals is in fact increasing, and that our wide range of symptoms results from the wide range of chemicals used).  I also have something in print to show disbelievers – those people who experience no symptoms themselves (that they are conscious of) and who for some reason don’t make the connection between the fragrances in scented products and the chemicals that cause them.

The fact that people can accept the existence of hayfever, but not that of allergies to chemical and other fragrances is clearly related to the manner in which media and medical “experts” (don’t) talk about the issue.  I think many fragrance buyers are adversely affected by either wearing these products, or having these chemicals in their environment, and yet their symptoms remain a mystery both to themselves and their family doctors.  While headaches, nausea, dizziness/spaciness and violent mood swings are frequently reported symptoms, they are almost always treated only symptomatically.  Meanwhile, how many of the afflicted need only stop adding fabric softener to their laundry, or omit that daub of cologne when dressing for the day??!!!

Both my roommate and I are extremely allergic to perfumes and experience a whole range of symptoms – headaches, nausea, inability to concentrate, etc., etc.  My roommate’s reactions are particularly extreme, and I have seen him experience weight loss, vomiting, and untreatable headaches as a direct result of spending time in an extremely contaminated (by perfume) environment.  We both suffer from exposure to most scented products (and there are so many!), from detergent to air freshener [??], to deodorizing garbage bags.  Walking into a drugstore, or a movie theatre can result in instant headaches, and taking public transit can be so nightmarish, that we are considering the purchase of surgical masks in order to cope with the excess of fragrance chemicals on buses, trains, etc.

Thank you again for this article.  It’s about time we started accepting the fact that synthetic chemicals can greatly affect our natural chemistry in severe and harmful ways!

L.M.S. Moffat, Burnaby, BC