Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Revealed: Secret Allergy Triggers

"Fragrances can contain hundreds of chemicals that are mostly untested on humans, Dr. Wedner says. When those chemicals bond with the essential oils in perfumes and are then sprayed into the air, sensitive people may take offense. Sneezing, congestion, and headaches can be the result.

What to do: Kindly ask your colleagues to go easy on their favorite fragrances, and bring a portable fan to keep your area as scent-free as possible. Stick with body creams and moisturizers that have light scents. These are less likely to irritate you."
Part of a large and sometimes indeed revealing CNN article (read the suite clicking the link) about allergens in common offenders, such as carpeting, wall paint, soaps and detergents, stuffed animals, candles, beer and alcohol, lemon and limes and even Christmas trees! At least they consulted with Christopher Randolph, MD, an allergy expert at the Yale University. In the grand scheme of things you would agree that perfume is the least of our concerns in relation to those issues...and please note the "spaying" part!

pic via


  1. Pretty comprehensive, I'd say !

    Yup, perfume is only the tip of this iceberg.


  2. It would be nice if people simply asked each other to "go easy" on the fragrance. It would also be nice if people didn't wear quarts of tuberose-based fragrance to the office (I don't do office work, but my husband says this is fairly common.) That would be general good manners, but these have disappeared in the modern U.S. workplace, apparently. Complaining to someone in HR, followed by a companywide no-fragrance policy, seems to be the way things are done now.

  3. "Fragrances can contain hundreds of chemicals that are mostly untested on humans"

    what about food? did they test every single molecule that enters this huge market?
    There is not a single element in nature that cannot cause a "biologic response" to somebody. But of course... for many only the fragrance is seen as the Evil thing. What about a big flower bouquet or a park with all plants in bloom?
    You'll see that one day you will be recquired a special paper to plant a tree in your garden because the air would spread possible allergens to your neighbors. :)

  4. I,

    there's nary anything that won't be susceptible to the scrutiny of allergen boards, eh?
    I'd say that if people were more reasonable and not so phobic, then things might be different.

  5. P,

    good point! I'd wager that the fact that American compositions have always been more "boosted" so as to create the "potent effect" which is more bung for the buck (per the info included in J/C.Ellena's book Le Parfum) does play a role too; the public should be re-educated that a little restraint is preferable than outright banning.
    The litigious route to everything also grates on my nerves....grrr...

  6. Octavian,

    you're absolutely right! Pollen is indeed something that travels and as a matter in fact now with GMF there is a valid point in involuntary transmission, too!

    This whole litigious route is what gets to me; it came out of the political correctness craziness I feel and this whole "uber-sensitivity" tendency. (Aren't people in Norway, in the Czech Republic, in Egypt, in India as sensitive as the US? But you don't hear of perfume banning!) However it is true that the "head aches, cut off the head" solution is spreading like a disease!! I guess it's easier to outright ban something than trying to inject some level of common courtesy and reasonable use.

  7. Damn, I have a nice and long collection of allergies and sensitivities. Dust, dust mites, cats, dogs, plants of all seasons including the Meditteranean ones - got sensitized to a few ones during my first stay in Italy and now I'm reaping the results - all commonly used antibiotics, apples, nuts, UV rays..... but fragrances do nothing or next to nothing to me. Alright, an overload of citruses would make my eyes water (hello, Escale a Portofino!) but that's all.
    I totally agree that pouring half a litre of Sweet White Bouquet over myself and then going to a public place could be understood as unauthorized use of chemical weapons but to me, it's much more preferable... you know, there's a Czech idiom, 'July tram' and feel free to guess for what it stands. I'd rather have half a litre of Sweet White Bouquet around.

  8. totally agree with the 'go easy when in office' sentiment.

    in a previous job, one of my colleagues used to wear Jean Paul Gaultier Classique - the one in the bustier bottle. i actually quite like this perfume and will add it to my collection one day.

    on the other hand, unlike that colleague, i will never wear it to the office - she used to leave a scent trail from the ground floor, to the lift, down the corridor and into the office! it would still be there by the time we left the office! if i didn't like the scent, i would be 'fanning' my workspace for sure.

  9. That's the common problem with orange flower notes (everything that contains methyl anthranilate up to tuberoses) - they are very diffusive and HUGE.
    l'Instant, Jean Paul Gaultier, not to speak about Poison, Giorgio, Jardins de Bagatelle.
    They are not intimate and shy and some people would feel as if there inner space is "invaded".

  10. L,

    LOL on the Czech proverb, I think I can get it! Allergies are no fun (have seasonal hay fever), but really, there's a happy reasonable medium in everything I guess.

  11. A,

    it does sound pretty bombastic, especially with such an expansive scent as Classique. Sometimes people lack common sense.
    Perhaps the solution to wearing certain scents and not offending might be switching to the body products range: often they present a softer, less "intrusive" version of the scent and they stay close to the skin.

  12. Octavian,

    very interesting comment, thanks.
    Methyl anthranilate's fruitier aspects (grapes?) are also enhancing that pervasive aspect to the point that indeed there can be too much of a good thing! Match that to the exuberant personalities who (usually) like to wear those scents and you have an overapplier. Not exactly the best office behavior.


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