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The importance of becoming scent-free

May is MCS Aware Fragrance-Free Month! In this blog, we’re sharing some facts about the harms of fragrances and some tips of how to become scent-free.  Join us in creating a safer, fragrance-free environment for all and spread awareness to make a difference. 

Edited excerpts from Breakspear Medical’s “Your guide to becoming scent-free” & Breakspear Medical Bulletin Issue 44:

The importance of becoming scent-free

It is a current cultural phenomenon that so many things are scented and most people feel that a smell like a mountain meadow means that it is clean, fresh and desirable. Not many people give thought to what it is that is creating the enticing artificial smell; the smell is in fact volatile organic compounds (VOCs) being inhaled as vapours and absorbed through the skin. The commonly emitted VOCs in scented candles include formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, limonene, alcohol and esters.

More and more studies are being published that link more frequently occurring conditions, such as:

  • non-specific headaches
  • asthma
  • eczema
  • dermatitis
  • psoriasis
  • multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS)
  • chronic fatigue (ME/CFS)
  • hormone disruption
  • reproductive problems
  • numerous other conditions

As Breakspear Medical is a medical facility specialising in allergy and environmental medicine, new reports and studies that focus on these areas of concern are frequently reviewed by our doctors and collected for reference in our medical library.

Breakspear Medical recommends that all our patients live a low- or no-scent lifestyle.

Perfume/scent/fragrance can be burdening the body of both the person wearing it and anyone near them.

Steps to becoming scent-free

  • Use unscented, fragrance-free soap, hair products, skin lotions, and toiletries.
  • If you use cosmetics, such as lip balm and makeup, use scent-free/fragrance-free ones.
  • Wash and dry clothes with unscented/fragrance-free laundry detergent.  One can use boric acid to effectively clean laundry.
  • Skip fabric softeners or dryer sheets by using scent-free dryer balls to reduce static and wrinkles.
  • Be prepared to wash clothes that have been worn in heavily fragranced places multiple times to remove any lingering scents before wearing them again.
  • Air out dry-cleaned clothes thoroughly before wearing.
  • Try using good, old fashioned fragrance-free household cleaners, such as boric acid, baking soda, or vinegar.
  • Avoid air fresheners, scented candles, potpourri, and incense in your home and/or car.
  • Create a fresh, scent-free environment by opening windows regularly.
  • Encourage scent-free policies in your workplace, schools, and public spaces.

It has not been determined just what all the consequences of exposure are to the numerous chemicals used in fragrances. Because of that, it just makes sense to reduce the possibility of foreign chemicals accumulating within your body by carefully choosing your consumer products.


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