Minnesota lawmaker campaigns for scent hazard awareness

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Multiple chemical sensitivity, Personal care products, Odor

A bill is being proposed by a Minnesota lawmaker to make
educational institutes in the state aware of the hazards associated
with allergy-induced asthma attacks and other related health
problems.

The move forms part of a number of similar attempts at introducing legally enforced actions against wearing fragrances in public places throughout the US due to the growing number of incidences relating to multiple chemical sensitivity (MSC). The Minnesota campaign is being driven by Democrat rep. Karen Clark, who initially tried to introduce a bill to completely ban fragrances in schools and has now presented a toned down version that asks for students and staff to be more aware of fragrance-induced allergies.. Campaigns to promote body sprays and fragrances have proved highly popular with young consumers in recent years, but in the confined quarters of classrooms the ragrances are said to permeate and are often unavoidable. School authorities say common sense should prevail​ However, some school authorities have slammed this type of legal action against fragrance-wearers, calling for common sense to prevail, rather than making it a legally enforced issue. One Minnesota school superintendent told local newspaper LaCrosse Tribune that the issue never seemed to have got to the point where students were making enough complaints to make a policy relating to the issue. Reacting to Clark's actions and similar enforcements that have already been carried out in colleges in Maryland and Portland, the Personal Care Products Council said that it did not oppose fragrance-free policies, so long as they are voluntary and not legislative. Although the number of individual institutions going fragrance free, or interested in going fragrance free remains very small, there is increasing recognition of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) and the general discomfort experienced by some on contact with strong scents. MCS can be induced from a chemical build-up​ MCS is described as the severe allergic-type reactions that some individuals suffer when in contact with a wide variety of chemical substances including many of those found in deodorants, fragrances, hair sprays and similar personal care products. Reactions can include headaches, skin rashes, muscoskeletal pains, burning sensations and severe fatigue, with some individuals having trouble with coordination and lengthy concentration. However, the mechanism behind MCS is not known leading many, including much of the medical profession, to refer to it as a psychosomatic illness with little or no treatment offered to sufferers. In addition, MCS is not a classic allergy - the body is not acquiring a sensitivity to a specific excitant, instead similar symptoms are being reported as a result of exposure to many and varied excitants - meaning that a fragrance free policy may not be the most effective mode of action.

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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