When we discuss fragrances, we typically refer to the aromas or odors that come from the substances and chemicals in cosmetics (perfume, make-up, shampoo, deodorant, etc.) as well as from other goods like air fresheners, cleaners, and other items.
Unfortunately, the terms scent-free, fragrance-free, and unscented lack precise definitions. Despite having an unscented label, some products may actually have substances that cover up or disguise the smell of other components. However, specific product composition assertions, such as: The smell or scent Terms that characterize the resulting odor, such as ""fresh scent,"" ""floral aroma,"" or ""lemon scent,"" may be added by notification if a product's formulation has been changed to add or change a fragrance. If a product is odorless or almost odorless and doesn't include any odor-masking components, such a perfume, the terms ""fragrance-free"" or ""unscented"" may be added by notification. If a substance that masks odors is included in the product, the phrase ""de-scented"" may be added. (Source: Health Canada's Regulatory Directive DIR2013-02, Notification/Non-notification) Even though it's crucial to be aware of the variations in how different manufacturers use these terminology, they can still serve as a general guide when picking products.
Can smells harm your health?
Some or all of the following symptoms are frequently observed when exposure to the components or chemicals in scented items has been blamed for negatively influencing a person's health:
feeling unsteady and lightheaded nausea fatigue weakness sleepiness numbness upper respiratory ailments breathing difficulty skin sensitivity malaise confusion having trouble concentrating These symptoms might range in severity. Some persons experience mild irritability, while others become unable to do many ""normal"" things and/or must stop doing them altogether to protect themselves from exposure (such as going to public places). Some patients therefore express feelings of despair or anxiety. Environmental sensitivity is a term used to describe these reactions. Environmental sensitivities (ES) is a chronic disorder that manifests as symptoms when a person is exposed to specific chemicals or other environmental agents at low levels that are generally tolerated, according to the Women's College Hospital. The severity of the symptoms might range from minor to incapacitating. Environmental sensitivity (ES) is also known as multiple chemical sensitivity, chemical intolerance, environmental sickness, toxicant-induced loss of tolerance, and idiopathic environmental intolerance."" "" Even in the smallest amounts, exposure to the components and compounds in scented items can cause various problems, including asthmatic and allergic patients as well as those with other conditions (for example: mastocytosis, etc.). The health consequences in these circumstances can be serious.
What categories of goods are connected to environmental sensitivity?
Environmental sensitivity can be linked to any product or chemical. Individuals with environmental sensitivities may have negative reactions to foods, chemicals, or environmental agents, either alone or in combination, according to the Public Service Commission of Canada. Specific allergens, such as cleaning products, dust, scents, or building components, might cause undesirable reactions in people with environmental sensitivity. The emphasis of this document is sensitivities to scented goods. Other records that could be useful are: Moulds and fungi in Indoor Air Quality: General Indoor Air Quality A sensitive situation at work should be handled by addressing all potential causes.
What kinds of items have smells in them?
A very wide variety of products contain ingredients or compounds that are used to create fragrances, including (keep in mind that these lists are not all-inclusive and additional products may cause a reaction):
using conditioner and shampoo
hairsprays deodorants Followingshaves and colognes perfumes and fragrances creams & lotions industrial and domestic chemicals for potpourri detergents, fabric softeners, and soaps cosmetics Deodorizers and air fresheners oils diapers and candles certain sorts of trash bags It is important to remember some products which claim to be 'scent free' may have only masked the scent by use of an additional chemical. If utilizing scented goods around those who are sensitive, be cautious to conduct thorough product research. There have also been reports of other triggers when someone is exposed to: flammable organic substances (e.g., gasoline, glues, paints, solvents, cleaning products, etc.) vapors from automobile exhaust pesticides molds, pollen
I have read that there are carcinogens in fragrances. Is this a fact?
While it depends on the formula, there can be chemicals in fragrances and related products that have been determined to cause cancer in occupational settings or in laboratory animals. The OSH Answers document What makes chemicals poisonous? has more information about the effects of chemicals on the body.
Are there any labelling requirements for products or cosmetics?
In some cases, yes, but these labelling requirements may not give you all the information you may need.
For example: Products like cleaners and air fresheners sold to the general public (in grocery or hardware stores) require consumer labelling only. These labels focus on immediate hazards such as corrosion (burns to skin/eyes), explosion, fire and poison. Only certain ingredients will be listed on the package or product. To find out all of the ingredients in the product, it may be necessary to contact the manufacturer directly. Legislation from Health Canada requires labels on the outside packaging of cosmetics. These labels contain a list of all ingredients as used in the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients system. This requirement provides consumers with the information they need to make informed choices about the cosmetic products they buy.
Are there laws in Canada that cover environmental sensitivities?
Yes. Accommodation is required under the federal and provincial Human Rights Acts. Please contact your local human rights commission for more information. Employers should be aware that there are differences between individuals, and build these concepts into their workplace standards or policies as proactively as possible.
What steps should I take when implementing a scent-free policy in the workplace?
As with most workplace policies, be sure to consider the following: Conduct an assessment or survey of the employees to determine the extent of the issue. Collect opinions and suggestions at the same time to help you develop a policy appropriate to your workplace. (A sample survey is located at the end of this document.) Designate one key person to oversee the project and its development or create a committee with members representing all groups (employees, unions, management). Involve the health and safety committee or worker representative(s), and get management commitment from the beginning. Set and stick to deadlines for creating a draft policy, a review of the policy, and for implementation. Educate the employees. You may choose to include brochures or flyers in payroll envelopes, publish articles in company newsletters, or give presentations. In any case, the goal is to inform all employees of the health concerns related to scents and why the policy is needed. Be sure that all employees have been fully informed of the policy and that they know what they have to do before the policy becomes effective. Address any concerns the employees raise openly and honestly. Reinforce the idea that this policy is being implemented as a result of medical concerns - not merely because of a dislike for a certain smell. Make it clear that the policy applies to everyone (including visitors, patients, etc.). Make it clear that cooperation on the part of everyone is vital to the success of the policy. State clearly what a person may be asked to do if they are wearing scents (e.g., wash or remove with unscented wipe, change clothes, remain in a separate room, etc.) Search local legislation for any supporting documentation. Do not limit the scent free policy to perfumes and colognes. As listed above, many building materials, and cleaning and personal care products also have scents or chemicals. Post a list of approved unscented products and where they are available locally. Review all safety data sheets (SDSs) for the products currently used and for those you are considering using. Make sure that the ingredients are acceptable. Remember that some products which claim to be scent-free may be using additional chemicals to mask smells instead of truly being unscented. Conduct trials in limited areas before purchasing large quantities of a product. Post notices that construction/re-modeling, waxing, shampooing, painting, spraying, etc. will be conducted one week beforehand so that affected personnel can make arrangements or have their duties modified during that time. Put the policy statement notice on all appointment cards, stationery, room booking notices, employment postings, etc. Decide on wording for 'Scent Free' signs and where the signs will be posted. Let everyone know that the policy will be reviewed and can be changed because of experience or new knowledge.
What is an example of a policy?
Policies should be based on the health concerns of employees. The policy must also apply uniformly throughout the company. Sample: Scent-Free Policy Policy: Due to the health concerns arising from exposure to scented products, ABC Company Inc. has instituted this policy to provide a scent-free environment for all employees and visitors. Definitions: The use of scented products will not be allowed within the building at any time. In addition, all materials used for cleaning will be scent-free. A list of locally available scent-free products is available from the health and safety office. Procedure: Employees will be informed of this policy through signs posted in buildings, the policy manual, promotional materials and will receive orientation and training. Visitors will be informed of this policy through signs and it will be explained to them by their host. This policy is effective on 01/01/18.
What should the posted notice say?
Signs should be posted near the entrances to company building(s). In addition, statements on business cards, letter head or promotional materials may be helpful if you receive a lot of visitors. Examples include: Some people who work at ABC Company report sensitivities to various chemical-based or scented products. We ask for everyone's cooperation in our efforts to accommodate their health concerns. In response to health concerns, ABC Company has developed a Scent-Free Policy. Scented products such as hair spray, perfume, and deodorant can trigger reactions such as respiratory distress and headaches. Staff and visitors are asked to not use these products when reporting to this office. ABC Company is a Scent-Free environment. Please do not use scented products while at work.
What are sample questions for an employee survey?
Sample questions include:Have you ever been affected by scented products? If so, in what way. Do you feel our company should offer programs encouraging employees to reduce the use of scents? (Yes, No) How should our company become scent-free? Change from heavily scented products to non-scented or low-scented products? Offer awareness sessions to employees about the health concerns related to scented products? Offer other incentives? If so, describe. Do you use any scented products such as shampoo, soap, hand lotions, perfumes, cologne, hair spray, or deodorant before arriving at work? (Yes, No, Not Sure) Would you accept a Scent-Free policy for ABC Company? (Yes, No) If you are not willing to accept a Scent-Free policy, please describe why: Do you have any additional comments?
Are there alternatives to a scent-free policy?
Try to identify the exact source of the problem, if possible. Reduce all emissions from building materials, cleaning products, etc. Maintain good indoor air quality. Ensure that air is being replaced with fresh air, and that scents are not being recycled throughout the building. In some cases it may be necessary to approach an individual who continues to use or wear scents. This request may come from human resources, the supervisor, management, the union, or according to terms of the policy and procedures as set by your organization. Note that the person suffering from environmental sensitivities does not have to be the one to approach the other individual. As with any human rights issue, it is not necessary for the affected individual be identified."""