Think of me and go fragrance-free!

I’ve recently found out that my chronic illness is caused by fragrance. I thought I’d share my journey here, where my discoveries may be of use to someone and where I am sure to attract like-minded people.

In case you’ve never tried to rid yourself of all fragrance, it is impossible. It’s everywhere: in the schools my children attend, in every public place and in every home, even in my back yard when my neighbor’s dryer is running. It’s in products you’d never expect, like unscented deoderant and detergent. You’re bombarded by fragrance chemicals while standing in line at the check-out counter by the perfume inserts in closed magazines; by walking down a corridor that was mopped yesterday; by hugging your children after school, where the ambient chemicals cling to their clothes and hair. All of these things make me sick.

By now you may be labeling me a kook. “I go to the store and hug my children and use unscented deoderant, and I don’t smell anything,” you might be saying. “How can that make you sick?”

I would counter with these points:

  1. The average person doesn’t notice the subtler scents anymore. She is used to the smell because she’s around it every minute of every day, even in her bed at night. Think of a smoker who can’t smell the smoke that clings to his clothes, but a non-smoker can.
  2. Not being able to detect an odor doesn’t guarantee the chemicals are not in the air. Many times I’ve had symptoms without actually smelling anything, only to find out later an air freshener was used, or the person I was with had put perfume on that morning. The overt scent had dissipated, but the chemicals were still doing their job, which is vaporizing into the air and traveling up my nose.

The thing that really gets me about fragrance is that in most products it’s unnecessary. So the next time you’re shopping for dryer sheets, think of me and go fragrance-free.

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