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    Fragrances Stink: People Losing Health and Jobs Due to Smelly Products

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    Air fresheners, beauty creams - even household cleaning supplies - are prevalent in modern society and all have one thing in common - a smell. Now, a University of Melbourne professor has decided to investigate how certain fragrances can affect a person's health, whether it be asthma or other respiratory problems.

    One such case study was that of Kate Grenville. Kat, now a celebrated author, loved to wear perfume and would often put a dab behind her ears.  

    "The smell of Arpege was always linked in my mind with excitement and pleasure — Mum with her hair done, wearing her best dress and her pearls, off for a night out with Dad," Mrs. Grenville explains in her book titled The Case Against Fragrance.

    ​​However in her adult years, Kate found her mind changed when it came to wearing perfume:

    "I couldn't understand what happened, a short time after I'd sailed out of the house in a cloud of scent. For half an hour I'd feel sumptuous and sexy, and then I'd get a headache. My eyes would get dry and sore. I'd get congested in the nose. I'd just want to go home. Was it the strain of being sumptuous and sexy? Did I have some sort of phobia about going on dates? If I thought about it at all, it was to blame myself."

    ​Professor Anne Steinemann, a civil engineer from the Melbourne School of Engineering decided that it was time to investigate the phenomenon.

    Her research, titled Fragranced consumer products: exposures and effects from emissions, uncovered some startling results. 

    "The study started when I realized that people were reporting adverse health effects to fragranced consumer products, such as air fresheners, cleaning supplies, cologne, personal care products and soap. So I wanted to find out the extent of the problem," Professor Steinemann told Sputnik.

    Professor Steinemann conducted three national prevalence studies in the US, Australia, and the UK. The participants were randomly selected.

    Ms. Steinemann found that in the US, 34.7 percent of the population reported health problems from fragranced products, and in Australia, 33 percent of the population reported health problems from fragranced products.

    ​"The health problems reported included migraine headaches, respiratory problems, dizziness, skin rashes, and asthma attacks," Professor Steinemann told Sputnik.

    ​"I also found that 15.1 percent of the population lost workdays or their job, in the past year, due to fragranced product exposure in the work place."

    ​Professor Steinemann's study helped her understand how prevalent and serious the problem was.

    In the US, her studies found that 14.1 percent of the population was unable to wash their hands in a public place because the soap was fragranced, and 17.5 percent were not able to use the restroom in a public place because of an air freshener or deodorizer.

    "So this is not only a health problem, but also an economic and liability problem," she told Sputnik.

    In order to avoid any potentially serious health problems, Professor Steinemann believes the best solution would be to completely avoid using products with fragrances.

    However, another solution would be to implement fragrance-free policies within workplaces, schools, public buildings, and health care facilities.

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    Tags:
    perfume, public health, smell, research, health, Melbourne University, Australia, United States, United Kingdom
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