Tag Archives: allergies

Student rushed to ER from exposure to Axe Body Spray; School reacts with ban

High school student Brandon Silk  has been treated by his doctors for allergies to Axe Body Spray for a few years. Recent exposure to the fragrance in the hallways of his high school caused him to be rushed to the hospital when his throat swelled causing him to have difficulty breathing. His throat swelled twice before when exposed to the same smell at school. Now his mother is scared to let him go back to school and wants Unilever to disclose the ingredients of the body spray to help determine what is causing his allergic reaction.

Brandon and his mother talked to local TV station WFMZ. Please watch their story and read the article by WFMZ for details….

http://www.wfmz.com/news/news-regional-lehighvalley/Mother-hopes-to-find-a-cure-for-son-s-allergic-reaction-to-AXE-deodorant-body-spray/-/132502/19404082/-/crdsgw/-/index.html

The Bethlehem Pennsylvania school where Brandon attends has put out a statement to parents on their website urging students not to wear Axe body spray due to Brandon’s allergy.  This is a great gesture by the school. I wonder how it will be enforced and for how long?

I am also scent sensitive and am touched by the reactions of many of the students at that school. Some suggest lobbying Unilever to disclose the ingredients for Brandon by posting to Axe’s Facebook page. Check out a video of reactions of students created by a local newspaper. I love their comments.

Smell Inc supports Brandon’s mom, Rosa Silk, and her quest to get the ingredients disclosed by Unilever. Unfortunately it’s an uphill battle. There is no legislation requiring these cosmetic companies to release the ingredients of the fragrance. The Environmental Working Group has proposed the safe cosmetics act to try to get this changed in the cosmetic industry.

Rosa isn’t the first mom to take on Unilever regarding severe allergies to Axe.  Read about the 2010 lawsuit filled in Indiana from an earlier post here at Smell Inc.

Something must be done. Body Spray, fragrances, perfumes, colognes…. it’s getting more and more obnoxious and it’s affecting others. When did it become trendy to reek? And when will these fragrances be considered second-hand scents and treated with the same regard as cigarette smoke. It’s affecting people the same way.

Smell INC Salutes: Fragrance Free Places

Smell INC. applauds those businesses, workplaces, and cities  that promote a healthy environment for all by limiting the use of fragrances.

These places promote a form of fragrance free environments. Let’s support them and  please encourage more to join the revolution.

  • City of Detroit workplace
  • New York City Health Department
  • Tuttle, Oklahoma City Hall
  • Portland Oregon City workers
  • Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton, Washington
  • Jefferson City Missouri’s Parks and Recreation Department
  • Windom Area Hospital in Windom, Minnesota

Those of us with allergies, migraines, asthma, and multiple chemical sensitivity thank you!

If you know of another place that should make our list, please let us know.

Another Fragrance Free Friendly Place: Tuttle Oklahoma

City Hall in Tuttle Oklahoma has asked that people should not add perfume or cologne when visiting. They may be asked to stand outside if they do.

Thank You Tuttle Oklahoma!

Want to see for yourself… here is a link to their website

http://cityoftuttle.com/

Here is an article in USA Today discussing the trend of workplaces adopting a fragrance free zone.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-07-02/fragance-ban-allergies/55988704/1

Fragrance Free Solution: UV light pocket purifier for cleaning without chemicals

I have heard of UV light used  in industrial situations like disinfecting hospitals and  air filter systems on public transportation like buses. Now a company is offering it as a consumer product.

Photo courtesy Purely Products

Pocket Purifier by Purely Products

Purely Products created the pocket purifier. It is a small device that uses UV-C light to destroy germs. It is recommended for use on hard surfaces like countertops, children’s toys,  cutting boards, computer keyboards, and cell phones. They do warn about exposing the light to your eyes, this can be harmful. They also say it should not be used on your skin.

For someone like me who has health issues with fragrances and most cleaning products, this may be worth $20. I like the concept of being able to easily disinfect my keyboard and cell phone too.

Here is the link to their website if you would like to purchase or get more info.

http://www.purelyproducts.com/Products/ProductDetail/tabid/77/ProductID/1/Default.aspx

If you have experience with this product or have any other fragrance free solution, please leave a comment.

Ambient Scenting Revealed: Businesses Pump Fragrances to Encourage you to Spend $$$

I recently bought a purse from a large name department store. The bag is banished to the guest bedroom because it reeks. It will air out there for a month or so. This purse has been soaking in the scents of its store for a while. Many stores are scenting their air with fragrances.

This can be done by large units in air conditioning systems or small motion controlled units hiding under a shelf on a promotional display. There are a lot of companies out there delivering a myriad of devices and smells to businesses, this marketing technique is called ambient scenting and it’s taking off.

These fragrance pumping devices are found in stores, hotels, casinos, cruise ships and even public buildings. They may be trying to mask an unpleasant odor or they may be trying to seduce you into spending more of your money. They may also be making you sick, but more on that later.

Shopping Malls: ripe with ambient scenting

The concept is to use smells to create brand recognition. A signature scent that may evoke certain emotions or memories. My friend Kelly says that Cover Girl powder has a unique scent to it and when she smells it she instantly recalls Cover Girl and the positive feelings she has towards their makeup. Companies are taking scent branding beyond their products and are using it in their stores and promotional displays.

Most people know that the popular teen clothing store, Abercrombie & Fitch keeps their stores smelling of their cologne, Abercrombie’s Fierce. If you walk into one of these stores you will be greeted by their signature scent.

Scent Air, an ambient scenting company, boasts on their website about some of their customers.

  • Sony Style Stores – a signature fragrance of  “citrus, vanilla and other secret ingredients”
  • Westin Hotels & Resorts – entrances use a white tea fragrance
  • Four Points by Sheraton Hotels – lobby and common areas smells of “Pinwheels in the Breeze”, a Yankee Candle designed signature scent
  • Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino – Uses a HVAC system to pump “Coconut Spice” through 135,000 square feet
  • Bloomingdale’s-  Baby Department smells like baby powder, coconut in the swimsuit section, and Lilac fragrance in Lingerie. Seasonal scents like chocolate, pine and sugar cookies waft there as well.
  • Hard Rock Hotel Universal Orlando – Smell of “Ocean” in the lobby and “sugar cookie” and “waffle cone” near the ice cream shop.
  • Celebration Health MRI facility – smells of “ocean” and “coconut” to relax patients receiving MRI’s.

Scent air offers many ways to distribute fragrances from devices that can be hooked up to large building air conditioning systems with intensity controls to point of purchase sprayers that can be mounted on a shelf display and be triggered by motion sensors. Scent air is so high-tech they custom make units large enough for theme parks and the military to use in simulation training. They even created scent distribution devices for street billboards. Scent air is just one of many companies offering ambient scenting devices.

Another company named Prolitec created scents for a large retailer in Europe comparable to Wal-Mart. They created a “Wine Cellar” scent for the wine section and “Nature After Rain” for the checkout line. For hotels, Prolitec claims it turned a pool’s chlorine smell into fresh flowers and masked bad tobacco and moldy odor. Prolitec also supplies a major casino in the Southeast with ambient scenting to hide tobacco smells there. Prolitec suggests its products to cruise ships, malls, fitness centers, schools, health care facilities, theatres, and airports. Here are some of Prolitec’s clients they have listed on their website…

  • Bebe
  • Abercrombie & Fitch
  • Hollister
  • Samsung
  • Diane Von Furstenberg
  • Hilton
  • InterContinental
  • Sofitel
  • The Breakers
  • Palm Beach
  • MGM Grand Hotel & Casino
  • Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
  • Bellagio
  • Harrah’s
  • Bliss Spa
  • GE Healthcare
  • Lifeline Fitness
  • Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
  • Henry County Health Center

Event planners may contact another scenting company called Scentevents for their parties. They have quite a list of events on their website which they provided this service.  It ranges from weddings to movie premieres to theme parks to museums. They carry a wide range of scents including crayons, rotten fish, fresh-cut grass and bubble gum.

Ambient scenting may just be an interesting marketing technique to most people but it can make some sick. Many people suffer from allergies, asthma, migraine headaches and multiple chemical sensitivities. All of these can be triggered or made worse by fragrances. When someone walks into an establishment there is no way of knowing whether fragrances are being pumped through the air.

I get headaches triggered by fragrances. Trips to certain businesses mean I will be popping Excedrin before the afternoon is over. I thought it was probably the fragrances of the other people in the store but now I suspect it has to do with the fragrances these stores are using. I am now a lot more savvy to this and avoid those stores. I wonder if these businesses even give consideration to people like me. Do they think about the customers they might be losing because their marketing technique makes them ill?

I’m not saying all scents are evil. I enjoy the vanilla wafting through the air from Ben N Jerry ice cream shops. That fragrance does not give me headaches, maybe it’s just natural vanilla?

If you are like me and suspect an establishment is using a fragrance that is making you sick, please speak up. Tell the manager. Write the corporation. That business would most likely want to know and if enough people complain perhaps it will create change.

And for those businesses using Ambient Scenting, it would be nice if you disclosed it somehow. A sticker in your storefront window perhaps or a disclaimer on your website. I would love to know before I plan a cruise or book a night at a hotel whether or not they use this kind of scenting. I know this will likely never happen but it really should.

Ambient Scenting is widespread, don’t take my word for it…. here are some links to check out and as always your comments are welcome.

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_26/b4184085987358.htm

http://www.prolitec.com/ambient_scenting.htm

http://www.scentair.com/power-of-scent-case-studies/

http://www.scentevents.com/scent-systems-products.html

http://healing.about.com/cs/mcs/a/scentsense.htm

If you want to know more about how fragrances can affect your health, how prevalent scents are in our society, or how to have a fragrance free lifestyle please browse other articles on this blog “Smell Inc. The Perfuming of America”.

University examines fragrance free policy

Framingham State University in Massachusetts is considering a ban on fragrances, chemicals and tobacco. It is getting quite a buzz. Here is the link to the full story from The MetroWest Daily News.

Seems like most students dislike the idea. No one likes to be restricted especially when one’s in their 20′s. I am extremely sensitive to fragrances and get awful headaches from them. Do I think everyone should be forced to wear only fragrance free products? No, of course not, but it would be great if people were considerate enough to keep their fragrances in their personal space.  The policies are made for those people who leave “scent trails” behind, the people who fill a room with their fragrance long after they are gone. It is so inconsiderate of people to wear so much fragrance that it affects other people’s health. Many people’s health is affected negatively by fragrances from allergies and asthma to headaches and more serious issues like multiple chemical sensitivities.

I think if students and faculty members of this university would just tone the fragrances down a bit, there could be a happy compromise. I do applaud those at the University for opening up a dialogue about this topic and I hope others will take their lead.

Here is a TV story from FOX25 in Boston…. http://www.myfoxboston.com/dpp/news/local/framingham-state-weighs-fragrance-ban-on-campus-20110330

Boy Hospitalized; Mom Sues over Fragrance use at School

A mother files a federal complaint after her son is hospitalized three times with anaphylactic shock from exposure to freshly sprayed perfume at school. She demands that the school establish a policy banning the spraying of perfumes, colognes and scented body sprays within his school environment.

Her 17 year old son has allergic reactions to fragrances sprayed in his immediate proximity which can cause his respiratory passages to close resulting in difficulty breathing.  The latest episode caused her son to be rushed to the hospitalized by ambulance with temporary loss of voice for a number of days.

The mother claims the Fort Wayne Indiana school district is refusing to protect her son which violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. She says she plead with the school nurse, principal and members of the school board and was dismissed.

She says her son “would be able to function and otherwise receive the benefit of a public education at Northrop High School, and avoid unnecessary risk to health and life, if provided the reasonable accommodation requested, specifically, reasonable modifications to rules, policies or practices, designed to control, limit and restrain the presence of airborne chemicals to which plaintiff suffers grave allergy.”

Read the whole story and see the lawsuit at  http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/11/17/31910.htm

MY THOUGHTS: The AXE body spray clouds are so thick at high schools you could cut it with a knife. Poor kid. I luckily did not have my issues with fragrances when I was a teenager. I can not imagine how awful it must be for him. How hard would it be for the school to ban spraying of fragrances? Why would this even be an issue? Shouldn’t a student have the right to non hostile environment? Are any students harmed because they can’t spray their perfume while at school? How many times a day must students apply fragrances anyway? I hope the lawyers she hired are good…. can’t wait to hear the outcome.

Proposed Legislation to Mandate Listing Fragrance Ingredients in Products

Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) are introducing legislation of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010. This legislation addresses many concerns about what chemicals are in personal care products and suggests that the self-regulation of the cosmetics industry has not been enough. The bill will require that labels of products list the ingredients of fragrances. Ingredients of fragrances have been protected for trade secret purposes and personal care companies have not been required to list the numerous chemicals that can make up a “fragrance”.

It’s no surprise that Smell INC is excited about this legislation. I’ve been wondering which chemicals in certain fragrances are triggering my migraine headaches. If this bill passes and is enforced maybe I can get some answers to my health issues.  This could be a real turning point for my neurological illness.

There are many sides to this legislation…. to be fair, I will post links to many viewpoints including those of the cosmetic companies.

Rep. Markey’s website, has bullet points of the Safe Cosmetics Act  http://markey.house.gov/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=4059&Itemid=125

Cosmetic companies group responds to this bill  http://www.personalcarecouncil.org/newsroom/20100721a

Consumer advocacy group pushing for this legislation  http://storyofstuff.org/cosmetics/

Article from Bryan Walsh for Time.com regarding this issue  http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2010/07/21/cracking-down-on-toxic-makeup/

If you think this bill is a good idea I suggest you contact your congressman/congresswoman and ask for their support.