Requisit Respite

Thursday, February 11, 2016

It Stinks to Be a Canary
By Susan Knight
(Spoiler alert: feelings hurt rant)
Why do perfume companies have to use toxic chemicals in their products? Those of us who are canaries in a coal mine (chemically sensitive) should be used as the warning signals for chemical toxicity. What people put on their bodies in the form of perfume, cologne, body lotion, body spray, etc. is absorbed into their blood streams through their skin, inhaled into their lungs, and accumulated in their tissues and organs.
There is so much "fragrance" at work that I can't breathe. I was thinking today, as I sat at work, waving air away from my face after someone with perfume walked past my cubicle, "Why isn't there a Surgeon General's Warning on perfume bottles, or body lotions or sprays?" I feel like I'm inhaling second-hand fumes.
 And now I have a problem going to church. I couldn't leave sacrament meeting fast enough on Sunday, therefore, I couldn’t enjoy the Spirit—or the camaraderie of my friends at church—at all.  I stayed for about one minute at the Enrichment meeting tonight and coughed all the way home, and off and on for the next hour or so. (Where’s my rescue inhaler?)
Because I am so inundated with the chemicals at work (read: fragrance), then again at church, I am super, hyper-sensitive right now. I've become afraid to go anywhere. Forget about going to the movies. Someone wearing perfume always sits next to methen I have to move! I'm like a perfume magnet.
The chemicals don't assimilate, or wane as time goes on for me, but saturate my body to overflowing. For those canaries like me (13% of the population), these chemicals used in fragrances make us horribly, physically ill, most of the time on the spot.
There is no pill to pop, no prevention, because chemical sensitivity is not an allergy. But it can trigger asthma, migraines, vertigo, sneezing, coughing, sinus conditions, laryngitis, vomiting, slurred speech, confusion, memory loss, hormone disruption, loss of consciousness, and more. These are the symptoms that betray chemical poisoning from what is erroneously called "fragrance."
And you can't wear a mask over your face (unless it's an oxygen mask) because the chemical particulates will adhere to a cloth mask, thus causing more problems with inhalation. Masks don't work with smoke, either.
When there's a room full of smoke, you can see the fumes. You are affected when a car's exhaust attacks your airways. Perfume, smoke, pesticides and gasoline fumes are defined by the same category—chemical pollution. You just can't see the fumes from so-called "fragrance." 
But people like me notice the haze that hangs over a room filled with it. We feel it. We smell it all over us, unwillingly. It hits us in the face like a brick and assaults us immediately. Canaries, we certainly are.
There has been no natural fragrance in commercially-produced perfume or body lotion since the 1980s. If Scarlet O'Hara drank eau de cologne today, Rhett Butler would have to call poison control!

Scents nowadays are all manufactured chemically—some using petrochemicals (derived from petroleum and hazardous to one's health). In fact, chemical houses who create the "fragrance" are making it so it "lingers longer." You might leave the scene, but your perfume hangs out in the air, pulled into the ventilation systems and spread throughout buildings.
Graphic from the article at
You might think, "Thank goodness it doesn't affect me." All I can say is, "Yet!"
We are all impacted by these chemically-produced “fragrances.” I wasn't always chemically sensitive. It can happen any time. It can happen to your children. Some people are affected by their own perfumes and body lotions already and don't know it. They have persistent migraines, headaches, or that nagging cough. They are fatigued, or cranky. They constantly clear their throats.

There are natural fragrances available in the form of essential oils, but some canaries are even sensitive to them. Luckily, I can resort to the essential oil route. And I carry a Vapor-inhaler in my pocket now, so I’ll have something non-offensive to breathe while walking around my floor at my company. But I can’t breathe it for eight hours a day.

I am very bummed that I can’t enjoy the society of my friends—or any society—because the issue of wearing fragrance, and not offending those who wear it, is more important to protect than the grave matter of chemical toxicity and protecting those with health issues.
I’m sorry for venting.
Sorry. Not sorry.

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