Several years ago an eminent epidemiologist sent us a dossier of research on air fresheners and dryer sheets because he thought that the health risks they posed were not getting enough attention by the general public. All scented products rely on phthalates, which are powerful endocrine disrupting chemicals, so that the scent lingers in the air, on skin, in the hair, on clothes etc.

In addition, the exact contents of the scent or perfume does not have to be disclosed to Health Canada because they are protected from disclosure regulations under the exemption known as "trade secrets." In addition to the phthalates, these ingredients can contain other known endocrine disrupting chemicals, which are hidden on the list of ingredients under the term "parfum" or "fragrance."

Scented products have become so ubiquitous that it is difficult to find products that have no scent. Our society in general has become highly scented with companies now deliberately spraying scent into the air in all manner of commercial places.

One group of people for whom perfumes pose a very serious problem are those with multiple chemical sensitivities. Research has demonstrated that almost one third of the general population can be affected by fragrances, while close to 40% of asthma and 70% of chemically sensitive patients can get literally sick when exposed to these synthetic substances.

Some people with multiple chemical sensitivities report that when they accessed health care, they got sicker, because of the chemical substances present in hospitals or clinics, especially fragrances.

The Environmental Health Association of Québec (ASEQ-EHAQ) has launched the project The Case for Making Health-Care in Quebec Fragrance-Free.

ASEQ-EHAQ is ramping up its call for signatures to their petition for a fragrance-free health care system. 

Quebec is the only province without a single hospital with a fragrance free policy while in the rest of Canada many exist. Approximately one-third of our population  experience symptoms when they are exposed to perfumes, fragrances and other scented products.

This includes people suffering from asthma and other respiratory disorders, migraine, allergies and environmental sensitivities. Being exposed to chemicals in fragrances can lead to immediate serious health consequences for these people.

Healthcare facilities need to be secure for people who are ill; the health care environment should accommodate all patients regardless of their specific illness. The petition requests the Government of Québec to take all the necessary measures to put in place a fragrance, scent, perfume-free policy and the use of least-toxic products in all health-care facilities in Québec.

The deadline for signing this petition is May 11, 2020. 

We strongly support this action. Will you too?