US woman sues over fragrance toxicity

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Fragrance Odor Perfume

An employee of the city of Detroit is suing her employers over
fragrance toxicity, claiming that modern fragrances contain
chemicals that can lead to neurotoxicants, particularly in confined
spaces with limited air flow.

The lawsuit, filed under the Americans with Disability Act has left many within the industry scratching their heads, but McBride claims that there is scientific evidence to back up her claims from research carried out at Anderson Laboratories in Vermont.

McBride claims that fragrance chemicals are on the same lines as cigarettes when it comes to neurotoxicity, suggesting that fragrance wearers should be subject to stricter controls.

In her lawsuit, McBride claims that fragrances are not necessary for hygiene, and that, indeed, they often 'just add to the stench'.

Citing the Anderson & Anderson study, which was conducted in 1998, she claims that fragrance chemicals causes a range of acute toxicities in mice, after a number of chemicals contained in five commercially available colognes were inhaled.

The research states: 'the emissions of these fragrance products caused various combinations of sensory irritation, decreases in expirartory airflow velocity, as well as alterations of the functional observational battery indicative of neurotoxicity'.

The research also showed that neurotoxicity was more severe in the mice after repeated exposure to cologne, suggesting that continuous exposure to such chemicals could have a cumulative effect.

In her lawsuit, McBride is claiming the formulation of fragrances has changed considerably in recent years, turning what was once natural-based products into formulations consisting of many chemicals, some of which have potential toxicity.

McBride's lawsuit is also based on the pretextthat fragrance users share their perfume with everyone around them, adding that breathing second-hand fragrance is like breathing second-hand smoke.

The lawsuit aims to secure similar rules to those already introduced in a number of other US cities.

Currently the city of Portland, in Oregon, has a policy banning all of workers in its Bureau of Emergency Communications from wearing fragrances, terming it a 'Fragrance Free Policy'.

The policy outlines that, "certain individuals suffer negative health reactions to a variety of scents and fragrances.

These reactions can be so severe as to make individuals violently ill and unable to work."

The policy states that if an employee is deemed to be wearing too much fragrance, he or she will be sent home to bathe in an effort to remove all evidence of any such odor.

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