It’s very normal for people to find it hard to believe that the scent of something can cause illness or disability in someone else. It’s especially hard to believe if you can’t smell the scent yourself.

But it isn’t nonsense. Unfortunately even a little bit can make some people very ill.

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Roi and risksThe issue of scent sensitivities could become one of your biggest challenges in the workplace. There are many costs to the employer if you take no action, inadequate, or inconsistent action on the issue of scents in the workplace.  Read more about the financial consequences associated with this issue.

Read on to find out more about the realities faced by people with scent sensitivities . . .

Environmental Sensitivities – The Definition

scent allergy worriesEnvironmental Sensitivities (ES) describes a chronic condition whereby a person has symptoms when exposed to certain chemicals or other environmental agents, at low levels, tolerated by most people.  The symptoms may range in severity from mild to debilitating.

Some other ways to describe ES:  allergies, environmental illness, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, chemical intolerance, and environmental hypersensitivity.

Scent Sensitivities – Prevalence*

About 30 per cent of the Canadian population has some type of sensitivity to fragrances. The chemicals in fragrances and scented products can act as irritants and trigger reactions. The number of people with scent sensitivities is growing, a key reason being the vast number of new chemicals compounds created since World War II. Nearly everything now contains chemical fragrances, being present in everything from personal care products to building materials – indoor air can be more polluted than outdoor air.

Another reason is an overload of other stressors, common in our fast-paced world, including a lack of sleep, a lack of physical activity, poor nutrition or emotional stress, can “tip the scales,” resulting in exhaustion and illness.

Approximately 3% of Canadians have been diagnosed with ES. It can affect everyone, but the prevalence increases with age, and 60-80% of those diagnosed are women.

*Source: Women’s College Hospital

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Health Effects – What’s the Harm & Why?

health-effects-of-fragrancesEnvironmental Sensitivities usually come on gradually (because of bio accumulation), but sensitivities can also occur suddenly. Reactions can be mild to life threatening.

This 2010 Report explains – What’s the Harm & Why?

Health Effects and Environmentally-linked illnesses