One person’s scent is another person’s headache

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The people we work with are so many things to us. Heck, even our question of the week invites you to ask us your questions about co-workers! And just on this blog alone we’ve learned the following about colleagues:

They are also – how should we put  it? – aromatic. While we appreciate that these colleagues want to add a pleasant fragrance to the air, we don’t like that they do it with several ounces of cologne and perfume each day. They are proof that too much of a good thing is possible. On a recent “Early Show,” Bianca Solorzano covered a story about Susan McBride, a Detroit city employee who claimed a co-worker’s perfume and room deodorizer caused her to suffer from migraines and nausea. She sued the city, citing her inability to work properly under the pungent conditions.

McBride won a $100,000 settlement. Detroit city employees in the three buildings where McBride works are now being warned not to wear scented products, including colognes, aftershave, perfumes and deodorants, or even use candles and air fresheners.

Last week, a co-worker and I were in a cab where the driver’s cologne was stifling. A few minutes later, we were in an elevator and another passenger’s cologne was causing our eyes to tear. We couldn’t wait to get into the fresh air of the outdoors, where good, old-fashioned smog filled our lungs. Although I didn’t feel quite as traumatized by the incident as McBride did, I can understand her point. If I were forced to drown in someone’s perfume eight hours a day for five days a week, with no end in sight, I can imagine my productivity would suffer. And, as attorney Joelle Sharman points out:

A person doesn’t necessarily have a right to wear perfume, but the person does have a right to be able to breathe in the workplace. So if an employee comes into work and says to his or her boss, ‘I can’t breathe, this perfume is triggering a condition that is affecting my ability to breathe in the workplace,’ and reports to his or her boss, the boss has to reasonably accommodate that person.

You can read the whole story and see the accompanying video on the “Early Show” website to get the whole story.

Although I’ve never worked with such a colleague on a regular basis, I’ve had more friends, family members and readers mention the issue of overbearing fragrances than perhaps any other issue. (Much to my surprise I might add – maybe they’re giving me a hint.) Apparently this issue is much bigger than I realized.

So I ask you, is this an issue you’ve dealt with? How did you handle it? Do you side with McBride or with the room-deodorizing co-worker?  Let us know.

Bing: Does a co-worker have ‘hygiene issues?’

  1. I can’t be around any fragrances, perfumes, cleaners, room freshners, candles, soap, laundry detergent, fabric softner, lotions, etc..without it bothering my sinuses and triggering a terrible headache. And with these headaches, I’ll have it all day, which makes me lose a whole day while I sleep to get rid of the headache. People really need to be mindful of this.

    • I am the same way. Natural essential oils don’t bother me at all. Its the chemicals they put in perfume that are bad for everyone. Did you know that most perfumes are made out of toxic chemicals and almost all perfumes contain cancer causing chemicals in them. The FDA tried to regulate the fragrance industry and failed. Perfumes companies claimed it would jeopardize their trade secrets. So I guess their secrets are more important than our health.

  2. About 10 years ago, I had an assistant who drenched himself in Drakkar Noir on a daily basis. That happens to be one of the three fragrances that triggers my allergies badly. Since our department had an open floor plan – no walls or offices – there was no escape.

    I did ask him, with the help of HR (who had never heard of such a thing and thought my request bizarre), to tone it down. He did, for a few days. Of course, he complained to all the co-workers about the evil manager who was cramping his style.

    A few days later, I noticed that the handset of my office phone – specifically the mouthpiece – reeked of Drakkar. It was apparently being dosed during the afternoon meetings when I was off the floor; the Reeker would be gone for the day before I returned. Knowing HR wasn’t going to be of any help, I had to launch a plan. For the next week, I made certain to get in before anyone else, and systematically switched my stinky phone handset with someone else’s; a different co-worker each day, until everyone in the department got one.

    As I was the most accessible manager on the floor, naturally they complained to me first. I had the assistant sit in on every complaint. I was most sympathetic, speculated that it might be a cleaning product that maintenance was using at night to wipe the phones, and mentioned that I’d be removing my handset from the phone at night and securing it in a locked drawer. Soon everyone was doing the same, and the Reeker quit shortly after.

    I’m now in a position where I can set policy, and yes, there is a no-fragrance policy in place for the department. Not only am I protected, I believe it cuts down on liability.

  3. Pingback: Types Of Massage Oil And How It Affects The Body | Topics Around

  4. As someone who also had migraines that are triggered by scents, flashing lights and certain noises, being around a strong perfume will not only set off a migraine, but also ensure an afternoon of vomiting. Luckily living in California where allergies are prevalent, most offices have a no-fragrance policy.

  5. Thank you for posting this. I am sensitive to all fragrances and people don’t have an understanding of how it affects others around them.

  6. I have a tempoary co-worker that goes outside and smokes in her car about every half hour then comes in and douses herself in perfume to cover the smell. She also has terrible hygiene and does not bathe on a regular basis. She absolutely reeks to the point where my eyes water and I get sick to my stomach in her presence. I have spoken to HR but they assure me that she is temporary and will be gone soon. It has now been 3 months!

  7. I have a violent reaction to some scents, cleaners etc. I recently had an asthmatic attack at work which scared the heck out of my coworkers (turning dead white and gasping like a beached fish). They have become much more aware of the problems of chemical sensitivity and are finally being more considerate of others.

  8. Many things like perfume are annoying, but nothing as bad as the smoke; we are in a small office, the boss and one worker smoke. No law here yet about smoking in an office, so the other co-workers complain, ask, cough, close doors, etc to no avail. It was finally suggested that the weather has turned nice, would they please take it outside. Now they stand in the open doorway to outside, expecting that to suffice… ugh hate smelling like smoke every day when I go home ..

  9. I understand both sides of this story too well. Chlorine Bleach is my trigger, though some perfumes will trigger an all out sneezing fit. I’ve usually had pretty good success talking directly with people.

    With those who have a habit of overdoing it with the perfume or cologne, and don’t seem to want to change, it seems rather easy to say something like “Yeah I remember my high school days… they guys and girls who snuck off to imbibed illicit substances tried to hide it with excessive amounts of cologne or perfume. So what are you trying to hide from your coworkers?”

    I’ve not known anyone with this dousing habit whom didn’t have a substance abuse problem of some kind- some were simply trying to hide a cigarette habit from their spouse, others a morning screwdriver habit that was getting out of control, still others more nefarious or dangerous.

    “Scent free” seems an absurd over reaction. I’d rather sneeze a time or two, than smell some body odors.

  10. I to am hyper sensitive to scents…it is a migraine trigger for me. I am on preventative medication for them. I really wish all offices would become scent free zones and respect others about this matter. I even had to ask at a doctors office, of all places, to blow out a candle that was so strong it gave me a headache as soon as I enterd the office. People do not understand how much of a trigger this can be to some of us.
    Scent is one of the biggest migraine triggers…and yet people think we make this up. I suffer when I go to the theater and pray I am not near someone wearing some cologne or worse yet bad body odor. I have had to leave so many times or have my seat moved.
    I am so glad you have posted this article…I only wish everyone out there would read it. And believe us.

  11. re: article #2210

    Anthony; First off– in consideration for the research and preparation time for article 2210; – the concise, clear layman’s language –Thank you!

    Question: I live on an eight-mile-wide island,St. John, a territory of the United States.
    This is a tourism-driven market, shared by St. Thomas and St John: no organized, working Chamber of Commerce or City Hall.
    The few companies that offer job placement prefer to acommadate the construction and planning&development companies. I would like to be part of a network [to the U.S.] that would include St John and St Thomas in the mix, caterings to this community’s ‘peculiar’ needs.

    Would you know how I should begin? I have gone to all the traditional websites, such as Career Builder, but the few positions listed don’t even come close to meeting my needs….
    What advice would you give, how do I begin the process of narrowing down the market; [-- in consideration of] my abilities and needs– the future and current trends in the USVI ?
    Or could you connect me with people who will point me in the right direction? . [ ie. career planning for dummies]
    I appreciate you taking the time to consider my question during your busy day. Blessing from Love City, St John!!
    Thank you,
    Leah Gerhardt//

  12. Lisa Honey, I’m with you girl!!! same migraine, different person, so understandable, and such an easy fix!!! There are lots of us out ther, just dummies who don’t know why they don’t feel good in the typical low-ceiling, shared air, no open window environment with cheap, articicial lighting…maybe we should all move into the CEOs offices to make a point, you know? Blessings, Leah

  13. I have been blessed with a nose and sinus’ that pretty much can stand perfume, candles, sented rocks, etc. But I do understand how that bothers some people as my mother suffers from the same condition.

    Personally, if a co-worker is bothered by a scent I am wearing or an air freshner that I am using in my office, I would prefer if they approached me and say something like, “I’m sorry, but your perfume/air freshner is making me ill. I am hyper sensitive to any fragrance”. I would have no problem accomodating someone who has an actual physical reaction.

    I have been in a situation, however, where a co-worker complained about an air freshner, then my having a radio on, then the squeeking of my chair that I needed to get fixed, etc. I’m sure you get the picture. Some people, it’s not about a physical reaction, it’s about control. Those are the individuals that are frustrating.

  14. At work, no matter how i try, I swet. The place has air conditioning, but not enough for the physical demands of the job. while i shower 1 to 2 times a day. I have been asked about my hygeine. Which like I said i shower 1 to 2 times a day. What I find is that sometimes a deodorant works for a while and at some point i need to try something else for a while. Doing that for me prevents the issue, but i know some of my coworkers from time to time wear something way to overwelming to my nose or dealing with a customer who is way over scented can cause issues. Have you ever been around a cronic smoker. As a person that doesn’t smoke, that scent can cause me to get week in the knees. I have to excuse my self for a second or 2 to get my composer. It’s funny but one persons great smell can be anothers hell and who wants to be the person to say,” hey bud, but you STINK!”

  15. Where I work, we had someone for over a year who came in DAILY smelling like she’d been marinating in some horribly overpowering scent overnight. It was so strong that the air was full of the fumes even when she herself wasn’t there. I wasn’t the only one who had trouble with it; at least two others said That Person’s stuff was too strong. Even after I began using a filter mask, the stuff was KILLING my sinuses. She’d tell anybody who complained that it wasn’t “perfume”, it was “body oils”. (So how does that excuse her thoughtlessness in stinking up the entire workplace???) It triggered MCS, and detox treatment has cost me THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS out of pocket to date. It seems I should be able to get some compensation for it, but I don’t know where to start. I’m tired of wearing a filter mask, and tired of being on edge if I take public transport, eat in a restaurant, etc., lest somebody with “stuff” on enter the place. Even outdoors I have problems if someone loaded up passes me. And smoking…UGH!!!

  16. I stumbled on this article accidently and I can’t believe the whining! You are all so caught up in the white collar world of being PC, getting human resources involved etc that you have forgotten how to interact with people. Quit being a bunch of whining babies and if you have an issue with someones odor, either hygiene or store bought, deal with it personally and politely first one on one. You might not only fix the problem but help someone in the long run istead of the alienation you all seem to find as the first step.

    • This is the perfect solution in a perfect world. We know we are not living in a perfect world. I.have terrible reactions to scents, including migraines, nausea, light headed, sore throat, watery eyes and on any given day Roseasea. I have very nicely discuss this with anyone in my small office that uses scents and for the most part, I don’t have too may problems but there are times I need to suffer for days while they “forget” or use something new that they don’t think will bother me, then I just look like a whiner. It’s hard to get thru to a new person who doesn’t get it.
      Don’t even get me started on the clients. I work in an accounting firm and have constant contact and my condition is just getting worse.
      I have discussed this with my boss who’s the owner of the company. She doesn’t want to post any signs for a fragrance free office thinking it may alienate people. She does help somewhat with my problem by allowing me to leave my reception desk when a client walks in wearing a scent but it doesn’t make a difference once I get the first whiff.
      So, talking nicely about it to someone can help but only sometimes.

    • You obviously have never experienced the shortness of breath, headaches and nausea that come with hypersensitivity to some of the chemicals in perfumed products, this is to say nothing of the cold sweat panick that hits you when someone sprays next to you when you are on the phone to a customer and can not get away from it, grow up and have some consideration for others, no doubt you will be one of the imbeciles that spray intentionally to get a reaction from some one like myself thinking it is some huge joke, or that I need to be taught a lesson for having a problem with it, I have aright to breath you do not have a right to bully

  17. I have been suffering from chemical sensitivities since 1992, amongst other allergies. I often found it difficult to tell employers that perfumes, hair products, cleaning chemicals really do effect my job performance. I get the headaches, nausea, breathing, and fuzzy head. I was able to work semi-productive with the headaches & nausea, but not when my head was clouded. Some people were courteous about this & most were not understanding & courteous. The last job that I had at a major company had a policy about perfumes & strong scents. Many of my former co-workers broke the policy. One time, I told a manager that if this woman doesn’t stop putting on so much body lotion, I will have to move my desk. That manager didn’t understand how this effected me & she did nothing about this. I simply moved to another desk/computer.

    It is so good to know that I’m not alone with this problem. I totally agree with McBride for suing the city. This problem effects people with chemical sensitivities everywhere we go. It’s even more difficult when we have to sit around it for 15+ minutes. There are many unscented products on the market. I find that there are fewer hair products out there that are unscented than deodorants and lotions. I’m all for no chemicals/scents in public places, or at least people need to go light on the scents.

  18. Dear Lisa, Thank you SO much for putting this article online! I suffer from both asthma attacks and migraines when exposed to people or things with too much scent added. I was fortunate to be in the position for many years to pretty much control our office environment. Since I did the interviewing and hiring, I was able to set the standards for office scent-control. I simply explained that it was a health issue. And, they never knew when or what shift I might be popping in, so they had to comply. One thing that still bothers me is the number of nursing staff and even physicians who continue to wear too much scent while working in the hospital. I have had to kick my own doctor out of my hospital room when he comes in wearing too strong of cologne. What is he thinking? Doink!

  19. Hey, i have this co-worker that sits right behind me, she used to brew fresh chai tea daily and about 5 times a day. I am pretty sensitive to strong scent, and this tea she brewed was super scenty, where it got so bad, i had migraines, became dizzy, and wanted to throw up on a regular basis. One day I messaged her and asked her if she can brew it in the lunch room, or have it pre-made from home, because i been having a hard time focusing on work. She replied back in a nasty way, saying well the noodle that you ate gave me a headache too…(mind you, a few weeks prior she loved the noodle, and even asked me to buy her 4 bowls). Anyways, even after me stepping out while she brewed the tea, the steam from the tea maker, was still overpowering, and she refused to keep the tea maker and tea in the lunch room “in case people steal my tea/teapot”. It became such a problem that i had to report it to my boss, and upper HR. And let me tell you…its gone!!!

  20. WOW! I appreciate this article so much. As a migraine sufferer, scents are the top of my trigger list. If people would have consideration for others instead of only for themselves, this situation would occur, at best, very seldom. So if you are reading this, and enjoy your cologne or perfume, please remember this: The directions on the bottle or box say “Spray on, NOT bathe in.” Scents are meant to be enjoyed by you the wearer, and that special person that you allow to get close enough into your personal space to get a slight whiff of it, and no one else. When you walk into the entrance of a building the people on the other side of the building should not be able to know by your scent that you are there, and we should not have know that you were there for hours after you have left.

  21. Ok so all of the points on here have some validity, but what do you do when you work next to someone who is quite flatulent and then sprays lilac air freshener to cover it up? I honestly don’t know which one is worse. I don’t have any sensitivities that trigger migraines, but these scents did trigger a heck of a gag reflex!!!

  22. I had a job with this woman,whom I had told I was sensitive to her scent. I even let my boss and manager know about this. After I had said somthing about how it was affecting me, several more people from this job stated to wear their scents into work and would even but the stuff on real heavy. This made it hard to breath, my sinuses would fill up so I’d be choking on my own snot and getting a headach. Several time’s on the way home I had to pull off the road and get sick to my stomac. Yet my supivisor and manager tried to say I was facking it and retliating against this woman. When the real truth is it was a retliation against me.

  23. Reading all your comments makes me feel alone! No one seems to understand chemical allergies. Someone above mentioned that we are whining. Let me explain:

    Me: I have chemical allergies and I’m very sorry, but your perfume is bothering my asthma.

    Whoever: Really?? I have chemical allergies too and this perfume doesn’t bother me at all!

    Me: Well, you know, we may not be allergic to the same chemicals so…

    Whoever: Ok! I’ll wear less of it tomorrow.

    Me: Actually, if you could just not wear it.

    Whoever: But this is my favorite!!! I’ll just wear a little and it’ll be okay.

    This will go on for some weeks. It’s would be like having a smoking coworker who only smokes at your desk while you are there. This is why we have to call Human Resources. No one takes us seriously otherwise. Althouh I’m !@#$ even in no fragrance zones. I’m allergic to Tide. That’s a tough one.

  24. I developed a chemical allergy from working in a small confined work space with two other woman. The one woman would spray her perfume on in the office several times a day. At first it didn’t bother me, but one day she sprayed it, I had an anaphalatic relation. My breathing was shut off, I broke out in hives, my face swelled and I almost fainted. I had to leave and go to the ER for treatment. When the woman was told it was her perfume that cause the reaction, she denied it and now doesn’t talk to me because she took offense that I think her perfume stinks. It just shows you some people’s ignorance. The reaction happened right in front of her and she still only cares if she can wear her stuff to work. She was ordered not to wear her perfume in a spray, lotion or any other type that it comes in. I now carry an epi pen and have to sit away from that room because it causes me to have violent reactions.

  25. I have asthma and copd and sometimes I sit near some people that are loaded with perfume, some men are just as bad with the cologne they wear. I cough so much and every little odor bothers me so much and sends me into a coughing fit, I cough so hard that my throat closes up and I can’t breathe, then I pass out. I’ve done this a few times but people don’t understand that when you have a problem like this Your not being mean when you ask them not to wear it.

  26. I need to make a point for those who do wear perfume. My husband bought me an expensive perfume for Christmas. Normally, I don’t wear perfume every day, but this was a gift of love, so I wanted to wear it. My rule is to quickly spray each wrist, nothing more.
    The first morning after Christmas, I wore it, and because I had been rushing around, I was getting overheated. Right away the lady in the cubicle next to mine said through the wall, “What are you wearing? It’s so strong.” I told her the name of the perfume and stated that I had only sprayed my wrists. She told me it was very strong. I told her that it was a gift from my husband and I intended to wear it.
    Of course, I have worn it again on rare occasions, but there has been no more comment. I don’t wear it at night except on the weekend. The perfume will probably get old and the fragrance turn before I use even half of the bottle.
    I don’t drench myself in it, but I feel self-conscious about wearing it. Personally, I feel put upon by someone who normally bathes with scented bubbles and candles and uses scented lotions.
    I feel that for those of us who don’t overuse our perfume, there should be some leeway. I am sympathic toward people who have allergies, but that is not the case with any of the ladies with whom I work.

    • Just like a peanut allergy , a little bit might be a lot for some people. You have a right to wear the expensive perfume but try think about the person who can get very Sick no matter how much it cost, regardless of how strong or light it is.
      I can’t go out to a restaurant, concert, office, store, or even a wake/funeral without getting sick. I’m on the brink of having to stay in my house 24/7 just to avoid all of the scents that I’m assaulted with on a daily basis. I’m a 40ish person who doesn’t have much of a life due to other people’s need for scents.


  28. While working I had very inconsiderate co-workers who smoked & since I was the only one who didn’t I was considered the problem until one had a heart attack and gradually they all stopped. Businesses who no longer allow smoking inside fail to consider that people have to try and walk through the cloud of smoke hanging at the entrance and exit doors. Usually their employees are the worse while taking their breaks. So, what’s the use? Not enough people are being sued for ignorant and insane behavior…”well, it doesn’t bother ME so why should I care attitude!” Ain’t no fun when the rabbit’s got the gun, is it?

  29. I can sooooo relate to all of these people and rude co-workers who refuse to admit thier perfume is causing me allerigc reactions which has now become asthma. I went directly to the two people that douse themselves in perfumes and hairspray and politely told them about my condition and the effect thier perfumes have on me. The reply was, well I don’t feel pretty without my perfume. They think I should quit so they can wear thier perfume. I thought maybe they better seek a counselor. I now have no choice but to get HR involved. I am sure things will change.

  30. Recently I have become more sensitive to fragrances and other allergens and have a coworker that constantly sprays her perfume or air freshener. She literally will go through a 10 oz bottle perfume body spray every few days, no joke! We work in a doctors office and it shouldnt be sprayed anyways, but she does. I asked her nicely, after having to suck on my inhaler all day because i couldnt breathe, to please not spray perfumes/air fresheners anymore because it is causing my allergies to flare and im having a hard time breathing. She just glared at me and decided it must be something else, not her. She then resorted to using strong perfumed lotions. I again asked her to please stop and that i really wasnt joking because it is making it hard for me to work. I feel like im suffocating. Ive been having to step outside and breathe everytime she uses these. My coworkers think im just trying to cause conflict and am complaining about something petty..Im not trying to complain and understand that everyone should have to right to use whatever they want, however if it compromises someones health and you work in small offices you should respect someone elses right to breathe perfumeless air. I have also mentioned it to the boss who just keeps telling me, talk to her nicely and ask her to stop…Not working at all! Any suggestions? it is a small office, no human resources, one owner/boss to answer to.

  31. What a bunch of controling a–holes. Go on disability if you are so disabiled and stay out of the entire environment. Lock yourself in a bubble and stay there. Your excuses for you illness are frivolous. Leaving your home or even staying home is just as toxic as your workplace. There are far more toxins in the air on your way to work then you will experiance anyplace else all day.

    You can’t smell or taste most of these toxins so you don’t react. What you need to do is see a head doctor and get your mind right.

    I am a business owner and if anyone ever approched me with this kind of complaint they would need to find another job. I have studied the ADA and there would need to be conclusive evidence with a direct provable link.

    Most purfumes are the product of nature. If you can’t handle natural aroma how is it you can even make to your car.

    And me I am a smoker, shut that damn car off, your killing me. What a bunch of mentally ill cry babies.

    • Michael,

      It’s obvious that you’re one of those people who only understands what others are talking about when YOUR ox is being gored.

      My ex is a smoker, but he is allergic to golden rod. He’d be miserable every time he had to be around it.

      When he couldn’t understand how his smoke covered clothes made me feel ill, I asked how he’d feel if he came home and found bouquets of golden rod in every room.

      You, sir, of such limited intellect and empathy that you just don’t “get” what others are talking about.

  32. i understand that certain smells can get annoying, but whats gonna be next after this, banning hair products cause of their smell, or not letting people use listerine cause the scent is strong. because of the bologne legal system we have, i can claim that just about anything affects my health in some way and sue because i wasnt accomodated. lawyers and lawsuits are an abomination for 90% of the issues at hand. humanity is getting worse and worse about silly things, and seriously, if your around a coworker enough for their perfume to get annoying, then you are too close to them.

  33. For all you who complain about this, simply SUE the responsabiles who allow the stinkers to anoy you.
    On the other hand, I would rather breath a cologne then BO…
    But, of course anything in excess is damaging…

  34. SO i can understand some one being mad that their boss did tell the lady to tone the fragrance down. I have been in this situation before to tell an employee that hey man respect the other people that ride on the van with you tone the cologne or wait till we get were we are going to use it. I CAN NOT BELIEVE THAT SHE WON. wearing a perfume or cologne falls under the statement freedom of expression!!!!!! If there is not set guidelines for perfumes tell her stop being such a pansy and go on with it!! So if some one eats taco every day for a however long and farts for half the day do you think you deserve 100000 dollars!!!! DONT WE THINK DETRIOT has enough freaking problems with out making the city go father into the whole !!!! the right to sue should have limitations it all goes back to the re re lady that sued mcdonalds for having hot coffee and won. oh i ate to much fast food now im fat let me sue. oh i smoked for 50 years and now i have lung cancer let me sue. The latest one ive heard a man breaks into an elderly ladys apartment trips breaks his hip or something sues and WINS because she shouldnt had stuff there anyways WTF really ??? freaking bunch of pansies

  35. in reply to john Meurer, many of us have tried the personal approach first, only to be blown off by the majority of people. If this isn’t an issue for you or a person close to you, it is very difficult to understand.

    I had to quit two jobs because the perfumes were causing such asthma that I ended up with repeated eppisodes of pnemonia. my body didn’t heal until I was out of the workplace for over a year the last time. At that last job, my first boss was understanding – his wife had the same problem. But he moved and the new manager said it was her “right” to dress professionally”, and in her mind it included perfume. I was too sick to take it court and fight the issue.

    My doctor told me to get a job in a controlled labrotory where no dust or scents were allowed. Yeah, like those so plentiful. Besides, I have no science background…. Now, I am blessed to have a part-time job where coworkers are more sensitive – partly because most of them have seen me during a bad asthma attack due to some cleaners.

    Acording to reashearch I’ve read, the AMA (American Lung Association) says that 30% of the population have lung issues of some kind. That’s almost 1/3 of the population! Number vary in studies of MCS (Multiple chemical Sensitivity) and related issues, which I also deal with. But the point is, more and more people are dealing with issues to scents and chemicals that ever before.

    My plea is to help educate yourself, then those clsoe to you, then those in your circle of influence. Will we change the world overnight? No. But little by little, we can help make others, and ourselves, more aware of each others needs and be more willing to accomodate each other.

    If you would like more information on chemical or “scent” sensitivity, visit the MCS Referral and Resource website at It has tons of information including topics like Chronic Fatigue, Fybromyalgia, Gulf War Syndrome, Sick Building Syndrome, Carbon Monoxide poisening, and others. It also has a referral list for support groups, doctors and attorney.

  36. As I have sympathy for asthmatics and migraine suffers, (being one myself; also triggered by scents) I also find it very uncomfortable and annoying when people are overdoing it, with their scented products. It can be very irritating and make me feel horrible. I definitely agree that everyone should be more considerate and less self absorbed. I know if I was approached by someone asking me to tone down or even not wear a scent because it was making them ill. I would be more than happy to comply! I don’t however; see or believe that this women got away with suing the city for something like this. Unless your trying to tell me that she tried everything to get this person to stop. Including talking to them personally, talking to the boss, the head boss, even getting a note from a doctor,( which is practically a liability note to a company) and she got absolutely no where with it. Then, and only then would I possibly understand it. The fact that this women got $100,000 dollars out of getting migraine from work, is almost as sickening to me as the “crime” committed against her. This country has become overly sue happy, with people that feel they are owed something for nothing. It’s disgusting.

  37. Why does someone feel the need to ‘drentch’ themselves in fragrance? A light touch has always been the idea in terms of style…NEVER overbearing. So what gives?? Take a shower and/or get to the root of the stench your masking. Too much fragrance translates to too much stink is being “covered up”. It’s so refreshing to be around people who you can hardly smell…a suttle fragrant scent makes for pleasant curiosity.

  38. I love the smell of most perfumes, but I can’t go into a store with large perfumed candle displays or I will become nauseous. Other than that the scent would have to be very very bad, very very strong and unavoidable for me to complain.

    Personally, most of my beauty products contain scents that are fruity, not floral.

    I would give up wearing a scent if it were making someone ill, but I wouldn’t give it up all together. I can’t imagine a world without lovely floral or fruited fragrances.

  39. While I don’t have any co-workers (you’ll get it in a minute) I do have a simular problem. I am a disabled Viet Nam veteran who was exposed to Agent Orange while in-country. I am a resident in a veterans home in the mid-west along with 700+ others from wars from WWII to the current conflict in the middle east. There are more than 1000 care-givers and administration personelle who work here.Lot’s of us have various respiratory problems and it is a daily battle with this problem. Most of the comments I have either received or discussed with others amounted to”well stay away from them.That’s hard to do when the person is in charge of your care. I’m pretty much at a loss as what to do except being really,really rude and telling the person he or she stinks and needs to go wash up. Any advice?

  40. I had a problem with the male worker in the cubicle next to mine. He was from a different culture. Some of his hot lunches were very odiferous, but I could take it.
    What I could not take was his flatulence. First I would hear it, and then I would smell it.
    I ordered a large can of Ozone air disinfectant (used in hospitals), and everytime I heard “the noise,” I would immediately spray a cloud of the disinfectant over the wall into his cubicle. He didn’t stop, so I went to my manager–a no-nonsense woman–and the behavior ceased the next day.
    His behavior may have been accepted in his culture, but I think when you live elsewhere in the world, you should learn and respect the etiquette.
    Thanks for reading.

  41. For some people, such as my wife, it isn’t just a matter of runny nose, itchy eyes, or a headache. It is a matter of a life and death struggle with anaphylaxis. She tries to avoid people who smoke or wear excessive perfumes or crowded places, where the various types of purfumes and colognes are mixed together. She has to carry Epipens wherever she goes, because a reaction can be caused at any time without warning. The Epipens just give her a little extra time to get to a hospital. One time, when she was hospitalized during an anaphylactic event, another patient down the hall closed her door and smoked cigarettes, then sprayed perfume to disguise the smoke. My wife ended up in intensive care for 3 days fighting for her life,

  42. What do you do when your colleague smells so bad? I think she only showers once a week and sometimes less. Her body odor is so bad and I cannot concentrate at work, I get a headache. I tried roomfreshners but it got mixed with her smell and it made it even worse.

    When I used the roomfreshner she said that she hoped it wasn’t because of her. I stayed silent in the hope, she’d understand but she didn’t.

    Either, she does this on purpose to be in the office alone or she just doesn’t notice how bad she smells. Either way, there must come a sollution because I am no longer productive at work…

    I don’t know what to do. She is senior and if I go to my boss she might get offended but also make it difficult for me at work :( But I just can’t stand it anymore. When I smell it, I get sick to my stomache!

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to tell her directly. Do you have any thoughts on how to handle such a delicate issue?


  43. Somebody like that actually remaining employed says more about the dummy who hired her and won’t at least speak to her about her than anything else. I would refuse to work with a nasty person like this – I have, in the past, gone to management and forced their hand over cleanliness sistuations regarding ceratin staff members.

  44. It’s funny how this works, At one time I would say that this wasn’t a problem, but it seems now it is increasingly occurring. I am a sales person and as one, I deal with a lot of different customers and everyone has a scent. Most though are sense of smell, doesn’t pay attention to, but there are increasingly a lot of different scents out there that are changing that. I know on several occasions where that the scent was so strong that I was week all day or my stomach started to feel as if I just got punched. I was actually the problem for a while and didn’t even know it. Know I check and try different deodorants to see what will work for me. Welcome to another nuance of the 21st century

  45. Yeah, some odors make your nose close up in self defense, and then the good air has a hard time getting in. Very aggravating, almost gives you a panicy feeling like if someone walked up to you and pinched your nose shut. It’s hard to just sit there and breathe with your nose closed up. So stop with the strong or bad odors already please.

  46. One evening on the way home after a nice dinner out, my boyfriend and I had made arrangements to pick up his boys and a few of their friends. I happened to be driving that night and not 1 minute after the 4 teenagers got seat belted in and I started to drive off, I stopped my SUV and told them to get out. All of them stunk so bad of way too much body spray cologne of various scents of the same brand I started to wheeze, my eyes were tearing up, my nose & sinuses were burning so bad I couldn’t breath.
    My boyfriend tried to console me and suggested it’s only 8 blocks and if we drove with the windows open that it wouldn’t be that bad for such a short distance. I told him “NO”, I stood outside the Jeep sneezing, coughing, gagging and wiping my eyes until I could drive again and got back in…all the while the boys watched this allergy attack thinking they were going to get a ride home. When I got back into my vehicle, I told them they would have to walk home and told the boyfriend to walk with them and tell them & make them understand that using half a bottle(just because the ads say so) does not make them sexy, does not make them smarter, does not make them smell clean, does not make them good looking and it does not make them cool. It does however make you easier for a blind person to find and it will also make people seem more polite because they will ask what cologne you’re wearing so they don’t make the same mistake you did by buying it in the first place.

  47. I’m a teacher, and many of my co-teachers are into candle warmers and such. Many of these fragrances bother me terribly. I would imagine that some of the students are also bothered by the scents. In many “brain-based” strategy classes, they suggest that teachers use a variety of scents to enhance student classroom performance. Yet, I find it very frustrating to have to deal with the allergies and headaches from these fragrances. I have mentioned it, but some people continue to use these things. I’m not sure that student performance is enhanced, but I am sure that I’m uncomfortable with the side-effects.

  48. Re: Scent
    Lucky for McBride, Hope McBride wasn’t a past or present smoker Most sensitive complainers contribute to self caused health issues and in turn use” feel the sorry for me Illnesses ” and blame it on others, I have come across many older aged people who complain like no tomorrow but yet they take what we now call” air treatment” AKA go and smoke, theses people have asthma and Lung health issues for any little scent not to their liking its an automatic compliant, but yet ” chronic smokers for many years, now go figure, I hope the courts asked McBride” were you or NOT a present to past smoker or suffered prior to childhood any sensitivity health issues such as Allergies?” if not it’s all Fake to me


  50. Thank you for this. Although I’m not allergic to perfumes I find them by and large extremely unattractive. We seem to live in a culture where no personal product is permitted to exist without a sickly sweet perfume overpowering it, whether it be laundry or dishwasher detergent, shampoo, soap or body wash, hair styling products, deodorant, cleaning products, or shaving cream. None of these things NEEDS to be scented, but of course they all are, so on any given day I’m walking around with at least a half dozen different scents not of my choosing (I don’t wear cologne and I use a natural mineral salt deodorant). Add to that the profusion of air fresheners and room deodorizers, scented candles, and incense, and I feel as though I’m under constant sensory assault. Is all this really necessary?

  51. I get non-stop bouts of sneezing as soon as I get smell perfumes/deos, which leads to headaches, leaking nose and sore throat. I have to take anti-histamines to stop the sneezing, and so I end up feeling sleepy and dulll at work. It TOTALLY affects my work…

  52. There are a couple of folks at work that pour on the perfume. I think it is a way of marking their territory kind of like a dog or a cat does. And while they may enjoy the experience, it smells like bug spray to me in most cases.

    It is as annoying as blasting a radio station or any other behavior that infringes on others’ right to a productive work environment free of distraction. After all that in theory, is why we go to an office setting.

    Those who engage in this type of abrasive behavior or who are not aware of the consequences of their cologne need to be a little more respectful and thoughtful of others. It should not be a matter of health, it is a matter of common courtesy and mutual respect.

  53. I work in a hotel cleaning rooms. Like some offices this is a small space with not much ventilation. I did not have much trouble with smells til I stated working in the hotel. Some of the rooms I clean on a regular basis are somking, for the most part I can handle the smoke. BUT, we do have the few people who smoke cigars. Talk about a bad smell. We also have the people who think taking a swim in the hotel pool is good enought for a bath. Chlorine does not get rid of the B.O. And there are some people who load on the perfume. So how do I tell the guess that stays in the hotel “sorry can you know use that?” Management would just say “customer service”.

    I am not the only one in the family that has problems. I got a candle for chrismas this past year. I lit the candle in our living room and went into the other room to do homework. About a half hour later I went back into the living room and my dogs eyes had started to swell. He also had a few stops on his muzzle that were swelling. Turns out it was the candle.

  54. To add to my woes, I can even taste these perfumes/deos, I dunno how or why, but I need to pop in a mint or something to get rid of the taste…

  55. I knew it was only a matter of time before enough people started talking about this. It’s kind of one of those elephants in the room no one has heretofore really seriously discussed, for fear of “offending”, very similar to the ever growing over-grown baby problem. The best is when the stuff is all over the door handles and you go to the bathroom to wash it off and it won’t go away and then you smell it while eating your lunch.

    I worked for a very politically correct nationwide bank for six years, 5 years as permanent employee, then for 1 year 7 years later as a contractor. During my contracting stint an employee was hired, who happened to be from a foreign country located in Africa. This individual was seated directly in front of me, his chair was about 6-7 feet away. Very shortly after being hired, he started to wear MASSIVE amounts of cologne. It contiuned to get heavier and heavier by the day. When I had been an employee before at this company I probably would have said something to him personally. But calling people on their bs had sometimes got me in trouble with management back then. So being older and wiser as a contractor, I knew I had to go through channels. No I don’t have allergies, it was just plain distracting. So, I spoke to whom I was reporting to at the client’s who I had managed to be on pretty good terms with. He had been moved to TX about 6 months into the assignment so then few things were ever immediately resolved. He said he would look into it and get back to me. Suddenly the new employee chilled out with the cologne. Obviously, I was pleased with the result and seeing my former employer had enough respect for me to take the matter seriously. But then I was told that I needed to be more sensitive to other people’s feelings, that perhaps this individual’s over the top use of scents was a “cultural thing”. After about a week of breathing clean air, this individual then went into high gear, increasing his use of cologne to more than double what he was using previously. I estimate this guy had to be using a least a half pint one morning once weekly. This once a week bombardment continued until the assignment ended since I was not going to transfer to TX. One day, I got so fed up with the situation I brought in an aerosol continer of Ozium. Gave a few blasts in his direction. Should have seen the look on co-workers faces, particularly the women. Yep…that’s it…somehow I am the problem! Nothing happened to me, as the assignment was in the end stages anyway. I decided not to make a habit of using the Ozium for references sake. Don’t know how that jerk was ultimately dealt with, probably someone of some real importance eventually complained, as I am never unique. Corporate America – got to love it.

  56. I’ve dealt with this for years myself. Prescription hydroxyzine HCl works pretty well but isn’t foolproof.

    What’s bad is when Abercrombie violates its lease agreement with malls and discharges its signature fragrance throughout its section of the mall, marking products from other stores with its scent as well as making customers sick. I’ve had this catch me unawares when buy clothes from another store that barely smelled of eau de Abercrombie, but reeked when worn because body heat volatilized the chemical and then the clothes reeked. One store I talked with (Hot Topic) got the health issue and the product branding, but JCPenney did not. We have to be super-careful and wash anything from Penneys because they smell like Abercrombie clothes. I’ve complained to the mall several times, but I’ll need to complain to higher levels with Penneys. I’ll also have to formally complain to Abercrombie, but given their poor track record as corporate citizens, I’m sure they don’t care about causing disabling illness – if they can mock an abuse an autistic child, then they don’t care about any of us “unwashed” who are not their target demographic and who don’t shop in their stores.

  57. I am an HR director in a company, my colleague the financial director smells BAD… whenever we are in a meeting it takes 3 minutes for the room to turn into a seriously badly smelling atmosphere. Am i protected? what has the law to say against this ? Even his employees in his department they keep on soliciting me to talk to him and i am simply worried about the legal implications !… Can we on the opposite of this article… force people to shower and use perfum ?

  58. I can relate to everyone who suffers with chemical allergies, migraine headaches triggered by smells and odors. Regardless of what some people think, what we are forced to live with is a terrible, painful illness and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone! Being trapped in the world of selfish, scented people is frustrating and to know that others have no clue what we go through and how ill their actions make us, well… I for one do not tolerate “scented, smelly people!” I have more right to breathe than those who douse themselves in scents have to stink up the air we all have to be in! I can tell you that getting some doctor’s to listen (forget about understanding) is the first of many failures of our society as caring people. Most doctors are not educated to understand neurological illnesses and so they don’t recognise symptoms of this disease. The old way of thinking in the medical world is that “women get migraines”, and it must be hormonal or even worse “psychological.” It actually took my family doctor years of hearing me complain about this problem to even comprehend what I was telling him, and at the worst cost for his family; his wife became a victim of this awful, life destroying illness. He told me once he wasn’t sure what to make of “me”, and that he wasn’t sure if he should believe me about my illness. He started asking serious questions about this medical problem, and confessed that his wife is having most of the same symptoms as his patients are having… he asked me about the disease, not the other way around! What it really amounts to is that “scented inconsiderate people” have no right whatsoever to cause pain and discomfort to those they are in the presence of!

  59. When I was younger the only allergy I had was bee or inset stings like gnats that would make me swell up. I now however am in my 60′s and all sorts of things set me to a sneezefreenzy. Some purfumes are quick to do that, but also some of the smelly stuff than men use will do it. Even if I don’t sneeze my eyes will water and I will get a bad acidy taste in my mouth from the smell. For what I considder MY safety I will tell a person that I see often about the reaction to what they wear, and if they don’t change or stop the use of it I just have to avoid them. Some women wear so much that you can still smell them long after they leave the room. Some of those smell nice but most are allergy attacks from hell. I try to talk to friends and tell them please don’t take offense but it is my health I am worried about.

  60. It is not so much people wearing a discrete perfume, the problem is overdoing it. I was taught in my teens to wear a scent,(on a clean body and not to mask any body odors) that would be only discernable within 15 cms distance from myself, and only faintly so. That was the true charm and magic of it. To put on more would have been gross bad manners and harassing to others.
    So I would say it is a bit of an modern ‘health and safety’ overreaction to demand that offices be scent free. Perfume used discreetly shouldn’t be a problem.

  61. Ironically, I was looking at my brother’s Facebook friends yesterday, and I saw a name that I have remembered for over twenty-five years — that of a woman who used Charlie perfume. Having to sit next to her for an hour every other day was like a torture! I will never forget that smell, the way it made my sinuses “pop”, and the horrible headache that would ensue. I developed terrible associations with her name and that damned perfume, to the extent that I automatically hate anyone named Cheryl!

  62. I am sorry to hear you are allergic to TIDE, I think that is the best there is in detergent, and for dishes, nothing beats Dawn, I even use Dawn for ring around the collar, workd great.

  63. Try changing your brand of soap, sometimes soap will leave a residue on your body that reacts with swet under the arms and smell really bad. Try baking soda under the arms with NO soap also.

  64. I am an asthmatic allergic to dust, change in weather and physical exertion (i.e., all the time). But my scent allergy makes me sneeze continuously till my head is ready to explode. I sometimes think I am going to suffer a stroke and that my brain has swollen up due to me sneezing my head off. A no-fragrance policy at work may help, but what about the rest of the scents in other places/things, starting at home itself as I cant stand the detergents/soaps. And I cant figure out how, why or when my allergy escalated to its current status…

  65. Airway Sensitivity, Asthma same thing I have experienced anaphalatic reactions from fragrances especially floral scents. Airplane air is the worst for me now. The medical bills alone have created a life style adjustment that makes one have to speak out and cry ouch. Bringing awareness to this clear and present dangerto some of us is long overdue. We are not complaining just trying to save our own lives. Their are also many children being affected by this same situation who will speak up for them. alarmingly sometimes it is too late for them to react and near fatal situations to these reactions can result in death. Only by the grace of God I am still alive to read all these comments and reply. In an everchanging environment many will one day be on the other side of this fence. I pray the air you breath is safe enough to save your life.
    Thanks for this article long overdue.

  66. This is absurd. A “scent free zone!?” Honestly, if someone cannot complain about something inconsequential this wouldn’t be America. I am a practicing attorney and I welcome a lawsuit against me for fostering a hostile work environment. Maybe those with “allergies” should seek alternative employment arrangements?

  67. WOW! I feel everyone on this page. All of my co-workers know environmental substances, perfumes, air fresheners and especially cigarette smell causes me to have a reaction. The scents have been so strong they’ve even caused my chest to burn, then the headaches, dizziness and increased blood pressure effects that I have. One of my co-workers, at times, tell me when I come into work that she can tell I didn’t come in contact with some on smoking outside because my voice is clear. It’s horrible and makes me sick. What can I do? I even mentioned once that if a person can sue McDonalds for her wasting coffee in her own lap and smoker’s sued the cigarette company because they have lung disease, I should be able to do also this condition or reactions are not of my own intenet.

  68. I am in personal care industry – and work closely with varitey of fragracnces and cosmetics. I would agree to the view that use of very strong fragrances, or excess use of fragrances will of course cause head ache and other reactions.

  69. I appreciate reading this article. I’ve suffered severe chemical allergies for many years. Course most people think it’s all in my head. I’ve spoken to my boss, he said he can’t ask people not to wear cologne or scented deodorant. He even scored me down on an evaluation because I could be heard coughing while people were using the phone. Can you believe that one? I’ve asked people many times in the work place not to wear colognes, lotions, etc. but to no avail. I’ve gotten a note from my allergist even. I understand how it would be hard to comprehend this, but you would think me losing my voice, coughing, hacking, vomiting, and tremendous headaches I get, someone would get a clue and deal with it better than lower an evaluation. Susan McBride had the right idea. Money talks.

  70. I too get severe migraines and vomiting from strong fragrances. I was working in a bank when I was pregnant with my first child, and I could not even walk into the public banking area because one of the tellers wore either Georgio or Primo. I would start vomiting within 5 minutes of being exposed to the scent so, after a few episodes, someone else would have to bring my work into that area for me.

    A few years later I was taking a summer course at a local college and, for 15 weeks, I would come home with a migraine and vomiting because one of the other students was also wearing either Georgio or Primo. I would sit as far away from her as I possibly could, but it didn’t help at all.

    Also, my husband’s cousin, who I absolutely ADORE, wears a fragrance that gives me migraines. I can’t remember the name of it, but it is a very expensive perfume. I’ve asked her to not wear it a couple of times, but she continues to wear it, but says she “just put a little bit”, but it still makes me sick. It’s so bad that my husband and I hardly see them any more because of it; she just doesn’t understand that it really makes me miserable.

    Lastly, I work in a school. Most candles and air fresheners don’t bother me, except for rose scents (not REAL roses, just artificial rose scents!). However, a colleague had a rose-scented plug-in air freshener. Although her classroom is on the ground floor and in the back of the school, I could smell it as soon as I entered the building and it made me so sick I had to go home that day. Luckily for me, she was very understanding when I told her about my reactions to rose scents, and she never used it again.

    It’s a worry whenever I buy theatre tickets, etc. — I never know if I will end up sick because of someone’s perfume or cologne. It STINKS! lol

  71. This is a bigger problem than most people think or would believe. My wife has such bad reactions to perfumes and colognes that they cripple her. About 15 years ago we were at a conference with several thousand people in a coliseum and her hands started hurting very bad. We decided to take a walk outside, but before we could get there her feet curled under her and her hands crippled as if she had had a seizure or something. Over time we found that this reaction was due to either the residual smells of the newly constructed coliseum or the perfumes of the attendees. One common component in new carpet, other building materials and many perfumes is formaldehyde. I’m not sure of the purpose in building materials, but in perfume it helps the sent to last longer. We have come to believe that these chemicals are hurting everyone who is exposed to them, just in varying degrees. One reason for this conclusion is that she is fine with essential oils. They don’t last as long on peoples bodies, but they don’t seem to be hurting anyone either.

    It got to the point that if she walked through the perfume clouds generated by human spritzers in department store cosmetics departments, her hand and feet would curl in so she couldn’t walk or hold anything. To make things worse, something would short-circuit in her head to the point that she could only speak 2 and 3 letter words. All of her normal thoughts were in her head, she just couldn’t put them into words. This has prevented her from being able to work outside the home and we regularly tell people that she can not be near them because she is allergic to their perform, cologne, body wash, deodorant, ect.

    Her condition has improved by her strengthening her immune system, but it is still something we watch all the time. We need to educate more people on the effect they are having on not just others, but also on themselves!

  72. I too have this exact problem. How do I get around it? I work at home. However, I am required to attend a monthly meeting for one hour. Sounds simple, but it is not. The last meeting was Thursday afternoon. The migraine it induced didn’t break until Saturday morning.

    Unfortunately, my migraines are more than just pain. I lose function of parts of my body; weak legs, slurred speech, balance instability, just to name a few. It’s not something you can take a quick pill and fix.

    Should I lose 1-2 days of my ability to function because my coworkers don’t get that no-fragrance means NO perfumes and perfumed products, spritzes, hand sanitizers, and lotions?

    And we are supposed to be a no-fragrance facility as well, but I assure you, we are not.

    I’m currently asking for an accommodation for this.

  73. Wearing of scents is unprofessional in most fields. This type of inappropriate workplace behavior is offensive, unhealthy and adversely affects job performance. True team-workers will not let their affectations (or body odor)hurt the morale and productivity of their organization. Anyone uninterested in the good of the team is expendable, as they will cost the company in one way or another. Smart managers will draw a strong line on this issue, to ensure harmony and optimal performance; weed out employees with poor attitudes; and circumvent liability.

    Unfortunately, most people don’t take this issue seriously, especially the offenders. I have experienced several retaliations for complaints about scents. I applaud the judgement against Detroit, which provided an unhealthy and hostile work environment.

  74. It is no different than the issue surrounding smoking and second-hand smoke. Perfume in the workplace and other enclosed environments should be banned. I shouldn’t be subjected to “second-hand perfume” in the workplace, on an airplane, or any other venue where people gather.

    The state of Maine has already enacted a law banning perfume in government buildings. That’s a start, and other states and businesses should follow suit.

  75. Laura.

    That’s not a “Me” Problem, thats a “You” Problem. The majority does not have to bend to the wishes of the minority.

    You need to be mindful of the fact that we prefer to smell good.

    Obviously there is a difference between putting on a lot of fragrance, but not everyone should have to cut back what they normally do to be “mindful” of someone. That’s like saying I have to stop eating penut products in public for fear of the person that has extreme allergic reactions.

  76. I’m extremely allergic to musk which is an ingredient in many scents. It causes me headaches, sneezing and asthma. I have a co-worker who will on occasion wear an offending scent and sits quite close to me. I explained my situation to her and her answer was “Well, I just bought this at the mall and I can’t just waste it!” Then she went on to get very close to me and wave her arm in my face, laughing all the while. I do think this is ignorance on her part and lack of sensitivity for she is really a basically nice person. I’m also very allergic to Lysol air spray and people usually use it to excess in our workplace and I just don’t keep quiet about it anymore and just say do NOT spray that in here and why. Most people try not to wear musk perfumes around me–even the original offender but she will still try something out ever so often just to see if I will say something, have learned to say nothing and the offending scent disappears….I do think it is a control thing plus she has directly said that it is all in my head. o well!

  77. I’m glad she won!! I have allergies to perfums and suffer daily thanks to one of my co-workers.
    Maybe it will help set standards in the work place for those who feel they must bathe in a sent that smells worse than B.O.

  78. males are just as bad as the females. apply whatever you use very lightly and most should be able to handle it. for goodness sake don’t bathe in the fragrance or spray/apply it all over your body including your clothing. in enclosed areas, your fragrance can make many people ill to their stomach or worse. apply very lightly and carry whatever with you to refresh it lightly throughout the day if you have a bo problem which can be caused by your diet.

  79. I actually left a decent govt job some years back because of a co-worker’s perfume – I am sure she used a crop sprayer evey morning to apply. Even when I asked and she agreed not to wear her perfume on work days, her clothes were saturated in the stuff. My reaction to some perfume chemicals causes my exposed skin (hands and face) and nostrils to feel burnt. My sinuses react and eventually I get a headache. When I did work with that woman I was sick by Wednesday of every week. I have had to leave restaurants and other public places at times because some of the perfume chemicals make it hard to breathe.

  80. I am also allergic to perfumes, I get an instant migraine and an asthma attack. Several times the exposure has caused bronchitis and once it developed into bronchial pneumonia. This has unfortunately caused me to alter my lifestyle. I cannot attend a venue such as a concert or the ballet where seating is assigned, unfortunately people feel these venues require a large amount of fragrance. Air travel also presents hazards, but most flight attendants are accomadating to my needs. I have probably spent an entire year of my life being ill and gasping for breath due to perfume exposure. So if the next time you attend a movie, the person you sat next to loudly announces, “Gee, I don’t think the medicine the doctor gave me for me head lice worked!” while scratching her head, you sat next to me and your perfume could be deadly!

  81. Only sneezing a time or two is great, but that isn’t what happens to people who are highly allergic. And a much greater part of the population is allergic to the point of not being able to work around these people than you think. You should be more considerate of others.

  82. Thanks for this article! Women need to read and understand this isn’t just making men sick but it is also making women sick as well. I worked with a women that told me my perfume was making her sick and I was wearing very little however, you could smell her before she came into view by at least a minute or two. From that point on I put on even less and in order for anyone to smell my perfume you would have had to be in what I call my personal space (the space my husband is the only aloud to be in). It wasn’t long after that a guy I was working with said something about her perfume and said women wear way to much perfume in the office with working so close to each other the smells mix and give many people headaches. At that point I ask if my perfume was to strong he laughed and said do you wear perfume. We had a good laughed and I was the better for having had this conversation from a co-worker.

  83. What you forget is that many of us DO deal with it personally. At my new job, I realized my manager’s hand lotion was causing me significant problems. She has a little bit of OCD, and used it multiple times an hour. I bought her some unscented lotion, explained my problem, and offered it to her as a meet-in-the-middle solution. She was happy to help me out, which I of course appreciated. Unfortunately, I have other coworkers who no longer can smell their own perfumes, as evidenced by how much they wear.

    I wouldn’t have even gone to that length if it was a scent that I just “did not like”. It has nothing to do with like or dislike. Certain chemicals, especially in fragranced products, cause a physical reaction that I simply cannot control. For me, it is a basilar migraine. It makes my basilar artery to my head constrict, thereby cutting off the oxygen to my brain. Have you ever seen someone with a stroke? It looks a lot like that. My only rescue is to use oxygen and wait to recover. Yes, it is a physical reaction that I cannot control.

    I do not whine about it, but I will not lose brain cells because of other people’s products.

  84. At several facilities, I have had this occur. My first attempt to resolve the situation was to ask this person if he was having a luncheon date or if he was going for an interview after work. I found out later that both were true. When I was questioned, I indicated it was his cologne that gave it away as I was allergic to it. i later told HR that it was his choice of colognes that had given it away.
    Now when I apply for a new position, I indicate that I am disabled when excessive fragrances and/ or tobacco are used in the area. This includes hairsprays, cleansers, antiperspirants and “scented air fresheners”. The result is seating with a window. (As I use the computer 90 % of the time, I prefer to have natural lighting versus fluorescent lighting.) So next time you apply for a position make sure to include those statements. Then you will have legal recourse later.

  85. I am super sensitive to perfumes, candles, Febreze, flowers, canned air, etc. Everytime I go to HR about a co-worker I am told I have to deal with it. This is wrong. My husband also sprays Febreze all over the furniture and carpet – and I am told that I am making up my headaches and overreacting. I am tired of being treated like I am a drama queen.

  86. I work in a private club, and yes when a customer comes in and has “taken a bath with the stuff” it not only bothers us, it bothers our customers, we are from red neck country, one way we express our thoughts on this, “Cover Spray” and in my opinion “if you need that much cover spray someone needs to help you learn how to take a proper shower”. And NO, just because we are rednecks it doesn’t mean we don’t know how to shower we are VERY CLEAN PEOPLE.

  87. Chemical sensitivies are a growing problem. Repeated exposure increases the reaction. I suffer from it too…perfumes, cleaning products, air fresheners cause various symptoms. Unfortunately, many people take offense thinking they’re being criticized because their perfume “stinks”…while that may be true, it’s not the “stink” per se, it’s the chemicals that cause the reaction…which is what I try to point out nicely when asking them to please not wear fragrances.

  88. Imagine being about 8 weeks pregnant around a co-worker who takes regular smoke breaks and then sprays down herself with what I thought had to be a men’s musky smell. It was all I could do not to scream. I was green, and literally could not breathe, and was about to vomit every 5 minutes. One squirt should do it, i would have rather have smelt the cigarettes on her, and that is saying alot!

  89. See now in my workplace we had similar yet also somehwat oppisite problem. A co-worker of mine who is very sensitive to any odor shared an office with a woman who smelled like she never bathed and who could’ve used a few sticks of a nice smelling deoderant. Instead it seemed on occasion she would just bathe herself in some sort of pungent smelling essential oils and come to work smelling of that and B.O. Sadly my co-worker had to put up with this until I was hired, then she prompty suggested that I share her workspace and smelly co-worker could have her own office three floors away!

  90. I had a asthma attack recently and i am glad that this article is publish. people who wear this is not understanding, they think you are going overbroad with this.
    you can use deodorant without fragrance. Avon has it for 99 cent unscent.
    soap in the store the one that is sensitive. detergent fragrance free. People don’t understand even when you talk to them in private.
    they come out and say: I only have a little. In the job sometime they call me a hound dog because I smell from far away and it affects me. I don’t want this but it is a sickness and people should be aware of this. because hospital causes a lot. i don’t have coverage

  91. I work at wafflehouse and the more I complain about purfumes in the work place the more they wear it. I have complain to manager and above her and even above her and they will not do anything about it.

  92. I had this exact same problem at work for years, but my supervisor blamed me for being dramatic and that they have the right to wear what they wanted. Human Resources gave me a very workable solution, a large storage room instead of a cubicle. My supervisor told me that I could not work there as couselors work in “cubicles” only. HR backed her and did not have any other solution, but to put a air filter in my cube which did not work. However, I was allowed to work offsite or find another place to work if I had difficulty. I did so, but the situation eventually reached a point that the verbal “offender” verbally attacked me and when I walked away continued, she followed me and continued to follow me. No supervisor was in at the time. However, I was told that I caused a disruption everytime I left. My allergist even wrote two letters. The union was unable to assist and I tried to find an attorney, but was unsuccessful. I quit working for a variet of reasons in 2006…still trying to deal with the issue. This was good to vent…thanks for letting me tell my story.

  93. I have always been sensitive to this issue. I was in a doctor’s waiting room one time in the middle of a hot summer, waiting to be examined. I had put on a small amount of Body Shop lotion, knowing it would be a long wait. The woman beside me immediately started to cough and stare at me..glare actually, she got up and moved, I was so mortified. The doctor walked out to the waiting room with me after our visit. The lady in question was still there. I asked about the lotion I had on if it would affect anyone, the doctor assure me it is a non allergenic product and perfectly fine to have on, especially as minimal as I had applied it.
    I agree with some people and their problems with scent however, I think like that silly woman some are over reactors imagining problems that are not there!

  94. For God’s sake don’t overeducated, underworked, overpaid, suited monkeys have anything more impressive to complain about? I’ve worked in construction all my life and got the broken body and strong will and wise ass mind full of reaality to prove it! You all can go on and on about stupid crap like this because you don’t acually work ,for if you did you’d be worried about the back-ho runnin you down or the hole your working in collapsing in on you. Also the guy in the crane who likes to swing heavy beams over your head. Or reaching your arm in a hole to grab a wire then you get bit by something but who cares the wire is run and your going home f-it I’ll put alcahol on it. So us real working people who make life livable for you suited monkeys really don’t care about smells in fact any smell other than rotting rat courpses, wood, rusted steel, mud, engin exhaust and your co-workers farts from all the dam beans he ate last night is a good smell, for real working people like us. So while you all go on and on about your personall feelings about perfume smells cheep or big $$$$$ perfume all the same to me, for I got to work so I have no f-in time to go on and on here anymore goodbye……….

  95. I agree with this article. But I did not read the worst. I not only am allergic to a lot of scents to the point of asthmatic attacks, but cannot smell. Thus getting really bad before I realize there is something in the air that causes this. When I start wheezing and sneezing, I ask my coworkers if they can smell anything that would trigger this attack. No one admits to any kind of purfume or scent in the air and I am at quite a dilemma. Any suggestions?

  96. I know from first hand experience how sick scents can make a person. I took early retirement because of it. (Never thought to sue.) That was 15 years ago and I still deal with it practically on a daily basis. I had to resign from a charitable organization because of one person’s perfume and she was a doctor. I’ve been hospitalized several times and a big sign was placed on the door not to enter if you had any kind of scent on, no chemicals to be used to clean the room, etc. All that did was cause harassment by members of the medical staff, the cleaning staff and my own sister came to visit me with her usual “yucky” perfume on. I haven’t been to a theater in years and sometimes have to leave church because of it. I wait until it is almost time for Mass to begin and then I look for a spot with the least amount of people but still have to leave sometimes. Maybe we need to wear a big sign around our neck but these people are so obtuse it would never ring a bell. There are so many of us out there, maybe we need to form our own club!

  97. During a nine hour flight from Glasgow to Atlanta a female of middle eastern descent returned from the lavatory with enough incense-smelling fragrance on to nullify the stench in a NY subway. My head began to ache, my stomach explained to the rest of my body that this foul smell was upsetting any possibility of making it to my destination without a self cleansing trip to “john”. Being a smoker, I had relinquished my habit for just enough time to make me a little edgy in order to accomodate the so called clean air for all the others on board. After a few minutes of this horrendous aroma, I leaned across the aisle and spoke calmly to the woman and said, “when I have to throw up, I will throw up on you.”

  98. Hello, I am NOT oversensitive to smells, but was during my pregnancy.
    I suppose hormones have something to do with it. I used to have a candle at home that I liked and then I had to discard it as it made me nauseous. That was 6 yr ago.
    Lately, I went to a concert (classical) and someone in front of me had a perfume that stuck in my throat and made me cough. She turn her head+ I got the evil eye as I was bothering her. Her I was able to change seats and enjoy the performance.
    Not just at the workplace, but also outside people should be mindful about this and not overdo their perfumes.

  99. Tracey,

    What a frustration situation. My husband went to my office over the weekend and he was immediately offened as it was in the fabric on the cubicle walls, chair and carpet. He doesn’t even have allergies.

    I am also allergic to all detergents except for All clear. I was told a long time ago that All products are the mildest.

    Good luck to you.

  100. I was in s chemical spill several years ago and I can not breath in any candles, air freshers, perfume, colgnes, and what really is bad are bath oils, and fabric softners, I use unscented laundry detergent and softners, everyone should. also I think men’s deorderents are all perfumed, really unnessasary.

  101. Someone I like very much wore a perfume or body oil that made me feel incredibly ill. I do not have the reaction with all scents, but this particular one caused a headache and upset stomach. It made it very difficult to concentrate on my work while in that kind of pain. I bought a desk fan and struggled for a couple of weeks because I did not want to offend this sweet woman. Plenty of women wore scents, I hated to single her out because of my issue — everyone else seemed fine with it. Finally, unable to stand it another day, I turned to her and gently explained. I apologized and told her that the scent, while lovely, was causing a bad reaction. She was kind and never wore it again while we we worked in the same cube together.

    My roommate also has a scent that makes me ill. I asked her if she could apply it outside so that it did not waft up to my bedroom. The two of us actually went through all her perfumes to determine which one was making me sick and she always goes outside now to apply the one that does make me ill.

    Unfortunately, the one smell that makes me incredibly sick (no headache, but about two or three hours of excruciating stomach cramps) is something that would make me very unpopular. The smell of brewing coffee in a small office is pure torture for me. I quit a job because of it — the office was just too small and the small bathroom was right there in the office too. Ten people in tight quarters, all of them coffee drinkers except me, brewing coffee several times a day. I’m honestly not a complainer. My illnesses are not the problem of other people, but luckily I have always been able to move on or people have reacted kindly without having to go to management or to court.

  102. I have asthma is triggered by strong cologne and perfume.

    I work in an open workspace also so had no way to keep the odor from attacking me everyday. I finally had to go to HR to protest the co worker wearing this in the workplace. I couldn’t believe that the HR director said ” The company needs to protect the employees right to self expression”

    I stated that my right to life precedes any right of self expression and the decision was made that I was correct. Now the department has a “no Fragrance” policy.

  103. Oh I forgot the alergy sufferers out there in offices !!!! I don’t have them but I worked with many who did in construction. NOW imagin having to work outside 90 degrees on a house on a roof working with tar ripping up old wood roofing, the dust, the smell of burnt tar, gnats in your nose ears and mouth not to mention pollin all triggering attacks. Now imagin working on that roof on alergy meds!!!!! With the ground 20 feet below and your head feeling like a balloon. They would tell me you feel like you just want to float off into the sky away from all that makes you feel you can’t breath!!! So you overeducated, underworked, overpaid suited monkeys feel spoiled on your cake jobs and look out the window for there is many more who suffer like you but for real not in there heads like you……..

  104. It was 1987 and I was in labor and the nurse was wearing some kind of overbearing perfume. I told my husband to get her out of here or I was going to throw up my brains because it was overbearing and I was at the point I was just going to let everything go. She insisted she was not wearing anything. I can tell you she absolutely was and needless to say the volcano erupted and it was not pretty. At that point she was instructed to get a replacement and get another nurse with the delivery.

  105. Before I get started I would like to say up front that I am in no way discounting the people out there who have allergies to different things. My mother suffers from allergies to all kinds of different things and it’s horrible.

    Lets face it people. We all live together on this planet and there is right around six billion of us. If we took into consideration all of the people that we might encounter everyday, we wouldn’t even be able to move.

    There are people that are allergic to all kinds of different foods, scents, chemicals, and fabrics. You name it, the list goes on and on. They’re talking about banning peanuts on flights because of the peanut dust that comes out when people open the packs.

    Living in a society that has such a phobia to germs, it doesn’t surprise me one bit. It’s a know fact that if we are exposed to germs as young children we are less apt to have allergies as we get older. I for one am very grateful that I was allowed as a kid to go out and play everyday and come back in filthy dirty.

    I know that some people seem to bathe themselves in scents and that it can be nauseating at best and life threatening at worst. Maybe for some people a nice bath instead of a bottle of perfume would be the answer, but I don’t think that trying to control what everyone else does is the answer at all.

    Maybe if we would figure out why so many people were developing so many allergies to so many different things in the first place, that would help many generations in the future.

  106. Wow, thank you so much for publishing this!! I have bad allergies along with chemical intolerance. My office recently moved into a new building and a few departments were combined, so I had to deal with new carpet and perfume/cologne. Our office was also trying to conserve energy so we weren’t allowed anything electrical. I went to my boss and told her all these chemicals give me headaches. I asked if I could bring in and use my air purifier. Because it’s a large company, I did have to get a note from my doctor saying that it was medically necessary and now, for the most part I’m fine. But so many people don’t understand, articles like this are important for awarness. Thank you!!!

  107. I realize some people are sensitive to smell, but what do you do about a co-worker that uses it as an excuse to harrass people she’s jealous of or doesn’t like?

  108. I was diagnosed with multiple chemical sensitivity several years ago. Accommodations had to be made by my employer. They had washed carpets with chemicals that caused me to lose my voice for a week, I went back and I lost my voice again. The “dry clearner” smell didn’t leave after two weeks. Then later that summer the municipality paved in front of my house, I lost my voice for two weeks. The “test” the doctor used was to talk to me, take my vitals, etc. come back into the room so drenced with perfume I was gasping for breath and trying to get past the doctor to get out of the room. The staff at the check out in the doctors office then said boy does it smell like chemicals here. I gasped I wouldn’t know, all I can smell is the doctor’s perfume. I was assured the doctor did not wear perfume! The report later came back to my employer that I definitely had multiple chemical sensitivity. Dryer sheets, detergents, perfumes, after shave, deoderant trigger reactions too. I have been stationed to work out of my home where I have more control over these factors. They did try to have everyone not wear perfume but one woman said it was “her right.” The union backed her! Many people don’t believe this is a real issue.

  109. In response to John Meurer – While discussing this type of issue politely with a co-worker used to the be the thing to do, let me tell you that it no longer works in most cases. Most workers have decided that “they” know what does and does not affect everyone and that when told of the situation, you’re picking on them (for whatever reason). This is the same type of battles when office first started going smoke free before it was law. Society has turned into a “ME” and “MY RIGHTS” without regard for anyone’s health issues. It’s so very sad.

  110. Oh, one more thing for all you suited monkeys who will want to tell me, “If your job is too much for you go back to school and change it” Well the same can be said about all of you. Go back to school and learn how to accually work for a living and stop complaining! If you can’t take it in you air-conditiond offices get your sorry asses out in the real world and see if you like it any better……

  111. I am also super-sensitive to fragrances which trigger asthma attacks. While I am on steriod inhalers and allergy medications daily, I needed my co-workers to be aware of my health risk. Not being able to breathe is debilitating and frightening. Rescue inhalers were necessary and my productivity dropped. It was necessary for me to remind the manager to send out a friendly reminder about scents in the workplace as I could not possibly speak individually to all of my co-workers.
    Bravo for this article and resulting comments!

  112. I am a migraine suffer. And any kind of perfume will trigger a terrible headache. I have had people angry with me when I tell them that their perfume is to strong and it triggers migraines for certain people. I don’t think they relize how painfull a migraine is to those of us that have to deal with them.

  113. Ever been to churches (synagogues, etc.) where the mixture of too many and too much different perfumes & colognes was so overpowering you couldn’t wait for the service to end so you could get outside?

    What about funerals when flowers are added to the mix? Oh, God, almost forgot…weddings!

    And I’m a smoker to boot, lol. However, being around a chain smoker makes even me gag! I kid you not.

  114. One last thing I just got to say, All you got this thing called human resources, WHAT THE HELL IS THAT !!??? When us real working people have a problem we just walk up to the individual say whats on our mind and if there is no progress we go about brawling the winner gets what they want thats it. (most of the time we come to an agreement)This has worked for real working people for thousends of years untill you suited monkeys came along with all your foolish civil complaints reported to human resources….. now I’m done, you all either can go about your foolishness or you can rise above it all and become more like real working people and GET BACK TO (*)Y&%^%E$@# WORK !!!!

  115. I think this is CRAP!!! I like to smell good and wear perfume, a girl at my office had a problem with my perfume (so she says) and did this very same thing, she went to the boss and complained. #1 – I thought this girl was my friend, why couldn’t she come to me and talk to me about it, #2 – her and I have been to lunch SEVERAL times in the past and I was wearing the very same perfume and she never said a word, I would even ride in her car wearing it. #3 – How can you smoke and paint your house and hang out with people who smoke and then want to point a finger at me and my perfume??? I think this was just her way of breaking off our friendship or something. I do believe people have sensitive noses, but when you have been hanging around the same person and wearing the same perfume and you have not done anything different, then I think it’s just a joke!!!!

  116. I think those of us with chemical sensitivities should complain to the manufacturers of scented products – they need to know that their chemicals are affecting us too. We should ask them to work on unscented versions of their products, and to advertise these options for those who are sensitive or for people working in closed spaces.

  117. I am so glad to see this out on the Web this morning! My last job, I could tell who’d been at the copier 5 minutes after they left because of how much perfume they wore – same with men’s cologne. I could smell someone headed to my office before I could see them. Everyone thought I was nuts and when I asked for one woman not to use a plug-in fragrance in her office that infiltrated the entire 8,000 sf, she wouldn’t speak to me for months. Everyone figured my allergies and migraines were my problem, not theirs and why did they have to modify their behavior to accomodate me – I hope they see it and someone is thankful I didn’t do what that woman who sued did! I love it!!

  118. I have been reading this all and I don’t have health issues with scents, but I do with all you people always complaining GET OVER IT scents are everywhere in the world and if you can’t take it I guess stay home why should everyone accomadate you people when all of these scents have been around for a million years and whats next telling people what to wear and how to live in every way, people all have rights not just you SO GET OVER IT AND I DON’T AGREE WITH THIS GIRL WINNING A LAWSUIT OVER IT ALL IT COULD OF BEEN HER FLOWERS AT HOME OR OTHER FACTORS IN HER LIFE

  119. I have asthma and allergies, so I’m particularly bothered by scents, especially florals. I’ve found that if I explain it to people in a calm manner, they usually are understanding and lay off the juice. Doesn’t help me on a crowded elevator, though. I’ve had to use my rescue inhaler several tmes in those instances.

  120. It appears freedoms in the U.S. are being eroded one by one based on people’s peculiar preferences and comfort zones. I once recall eating a breakfast burrito with ham, potatoes, eggs, cheese, cilantro and salsa inside. A man from the midwest, new to California walked by and asked,”What’s that smell?”

    I explained it was a breakfast burrito. He curled his nose and asked what was inside. I asked him if ham and eggs was a new concept to him. This is the same man who brought fish for lunch at his desk and no one asked him about HIS peculiar smelling foods. THIS is how bad it gets.

    Grow up and get over yourselves. If you can’t tolerate people’s scent, foods, habits, or other human behaviors, then become a shut in. Otherwise, deal with it. You probably annoy someone else too with something you do.

  121. I used to work with a lady who wore so much perfume, it caused me to have asthma problems. When I told my boss, he said he would say something to her. She never seemed to wear any less, eventually I had to transfer to another department.

  122. it’s bad news when i know from my office:”Mr.(X) is coming, he wait to meet you”. “Oh, my god,i think it’s dark day” i said. Mr. (X) use a very strange and bad perfume (the same from many years) which stay in my office all the day after he left, that make me very sick.

  123. I worked in an medical office(you notice the former) where an Aide would come into the office reeking of purfume. It was so strong, you could smell her as soon as she entered. I am allergic to very strong odors, and I informed my manager about my allergies to strong odors. The manager told me that she couldn’t smell this Aides perfume, so I must just be a “complainer”. I brought in a letter from my Allergist saying what I was allergic to, the manager took some action, but the Aide would still wear her perfume. Once I pointed out to the manager that the company could be held liable for any of my serious complications , the manager decided to make it a “smell-free zone”. I ended up alienating my co-workers, but at least I could breathe. This was not an attempt to control anything but my right to be able to breathe, and ultimately my health.

  124. I have MCS and am highly sensitive to many common chemicals, including fragrances. Most people do not understand that something doesn’t even have to be strong enough to smell it in order to make me ill. As some of you have said, they say I’m faking my symptoms or illness especially when the reaction is something non-visible like migrains, brain fog (trouble thinking/concentrating), or lethargy. I have had some employers who were willing to accomodate my problem with a closed office and medical grade air purifier. I then have to wear a carbon filter mask outside my room. It takes a while but people eventually quit staring like you are some kind of alien and in the meantime I’m not as ill.

    My current quandry is the I have not been able to work for a year (due to over exposure of chemicals when a contract company decided to spray paint metal filing cabinets in our building during work one day). I am now well enough to return to work as long as I am not exposed to a lot of chemicals again. When and how do you discuss this need for accomodation with a potential employer? I need the work so I can’t afford to be passed over for a job due to my problem but I don’t want an employer to feel I was dishonest in the hiring process either. Any HR recommendations out there?

  125. I sympathize with those who have severe reactions to perfume, etc. I cannot live with out my deod though and find it offensive that someone asks me to forego a part of my hygene. Being in a room with a bunch of people who smell like B.O. is sure to make me sick. (And has). And as a smoker, I know I stink and am ok with moving. But the passive aggressive crap of holding your nose or waiving your hand in front of your face as you walk in my general direction is NOT going to make me quit or stop. However, if you ask me to put it out because you have allergies, I’d be more than happy to.

  126. I get really bad migrains and I have asthma. I work in a convent, so most times it’s just me and the priest there, but there have been times when people come in and I just want to die. Sometimes they put too much fragrance on and other times it’s the fragrance itself. For me, the worst of the worst is Musk and Angel. These are so strong. There have been times when I have had to change me seat in church more than once at one mass because of fragrances. I had to leave my grandsons birhtday party because someone had a very strong perfume on that it filled the whole hall, and I had an asthma attack. It’s awful.

  127. john Meurer, we are not whining. People who are allergic to nuts get top priority everywhere. Schools no longer serve peanut products and students can’t bring homemade goodies due to allergy fears, and even some airlines are discontinuing nut products due to allergies.

    Now while chemical sensitivity sufferers don’t stand much of a chance of dying during our reactions, we should still be given ample accomodations as well. We have a right to breathe, and a right to work without fear of medical complications. The funny thing is, these instances are 100% avoidable. If workplaces became scent-free, chemical reactions by hyper-sensitive employees would drop drastically.

    I have suffered from migraines my whole life, and where I work there was an employee who came in drenched in perfume every day. If I needed to walk into her department to drop something off to a worker there, I had to hold my breath, then practically sprint through. Plus, several other people in our building choose to bathe in perfumes or colognes, and I can’t stop them if they have to walk by my desk or come to see me for business. I have complained to my manager and HR repeatedly over the years, and all they do is send out email reminders asking people to tone it down and be mindful of others. It works for one week, then it would go back to the same way. Thankfully, that one employee is no longer there, and the change in the air is noticeable. But every day I am risking my health going in to work. I get in trouble for taking the sick time I use when I have these reactions and end up with a migraine, but my company won’t go so far as to make it scent-free. They fear those that wear the fragrances will sue them for violating their rights. I have been tempted many times to ask my neurologist for a note explaining why we have to go scent free, but I know my company would not comply anyway.

    My rights as an employee are being trampled every single day by people coming in reeking of cigarettes, perfumes, and B.O., but I’m the one that’s whining? I hope those that feel this way are fortunate enough to one day experience what us sufferers do, and wind up with a migraine so bad you wind up in the ER getting your hiney shot up with powerful drugs, so you can walk in our shoes.

  128. My husband has a visceral reaction to most scents. He will react so loudly and physically holding his nose and wiping his teary eyes that it embarrasses the person wearing the offending scent. He has the same reaction entering a Yankee candelshop or passing by the perfume counters at department stores. He now avoids the candle store.When the ladies at the perfume counters approach him he starts his grumble/growl and almost runs away. I will say I have seen the tears and the red face and the ensuing headaches long enough with him to understand it is a real issue for those who have that sensetivity. In the same category is cigarette smoke. Smokers think if they are outside the door way they are not affecting any one. The smoke travels. It also swarms around the smoker and then we pass through the fog, only to have him get sick. Yah it looks rediculous when he is doing this but I can tell you he gets his point across and if you don’t take him seriously he will bellow.

  129. As a longtime migrane victim, scents have always been a trigger for me. I hated being dragged to the department stores whee the Demo girls were always spraying everyone with the latest ‘FREE Samples’ which usually required me to RUN to the rest rooms and wash the offending spritz off! Many times the next stop was to the managements office to lodge a complaint! Most places don’t do that anymore.. I have threatened law suits!!!! Going to the theater is almost as bad with the STENCH!!! LADIES, MEN, DRAMA QUEENS, Give it a rest!!! The cheap crap or the most expensive makes no difference!!!! STINK IS STINK. if you are offended, too bad. You made me ILL!!! and that can be totally avoided.. Just like drunk driving!!!!!!

  130. I like fresheners, candles, and perfumes but there are certain perfumes by a specific maker that I have identified that repulse my senses and can make me get a head cold if I am around it extended periods of time. In a training class, I went to my management because my trainers perfume sent my sinuses into overdrive and turned into a cold. I apologized to the trainer and lucky for me she did not view it as a personal attack and stopped wearing her perfume. In another situation co-workers taped soap and deodorant to the time card of a co-worker that covered lack of bathing and body order with perfume. It worked occasionally.

  131. I get sick to my stomach and throw up around strong perfumes. For three days the new girl at work seemed to bath in perfume. I was miserable throwing up and with migraines. I just told her that although her perfume was nice it was too strong for me and that I was a bit sensitive to strong smells. She was kind enough to stop wearing it. I think she appreciated the fact that I spoke to her first about it.

  132. john Meurer | May 28, 2010 You stated part of the solution, thanks. However, in my professional opinion, their problem runs much deeper than their nose. This is a mental thing according to Freud. The problems are deeply rooted in their pre-natal and early childhood. Their toilet training led to a profound emotional dislike for odors. This is classic transferance.
    There is really no solution. A move to the country side? No, still odors of flowers, wheat fields, cow dung, etc.
    A move to the seaside and then still more odors: saltwater, decaying fish, and so on.
    All of the research and scientific studies suggest that they stick a rag in it.

  133. I, too, suffered through the problem with scents and other chemical odors for twenty years and twelve doctors, all citing allergic reactions. Symptoms included migraines, breathing problems, anaphalaxix, nausea, etc., having to carry epinepherine with me forsome of these severe attacks.
    It was only after having to go to the ER during one of these attacks that it was discovered I had blocked arteries. After quintuple bypass surgery, all the sysptoms disappeared. My cardisurgeon explained all the sysptoms I had experienced were actually cardiac problem symptoms.
    While not everybody has a heart condition that causes this, it is certainly worth the effort to have this checked out.
    It’s been over four years since my surgery with no recurrant problems.

  134. I too suffer from over bearing scents. Perfume is the worst. There are some that immediately trigger a migraine for me. Usually I can get up and remove myself from the area where the perfume drenched person is, however, when they come into my office and I have to wait on these people, it is terrible. When this happens it is not the “normal migraine” it will come on fast and last a while. It usually includes spotty vision and leads to vomiting. People need to consider other people’s allergies and triggers and be sensitive to the world around them. Besides, you think you smell good and you don’t!

  135. Lisa,
    I understand about the doctor’s offices. I had a local Post Office which is a small building, where the “Post Master” had a plug in “deoderizer” in this very small building.
    I have asthma, and a I was mailing often due to a small business, and would cringe when I had to go there. Finally on her day off, the other worker and I talked about it, and she unplugged it.
    In stores, walking down the street, in buildings, elevators, on planes…the problem follows. People on cell phones who wreak of perfume. People just stopped being considerate of others a long time ago and the problem is getting worse.
    Maybe if more people would sue, they’d ban these pollutants everywhere.

  136. I was pleased to see an article addressing the problem of perfume drenched co-workers. While my reaction isn’t as painful as a migraine it is still a difficult one. When I come into contact with certain perfumes, deodorants, aftershaves, and some cleaners, I have an almost instant reaction. My throat begins to close, I lose my voice and breathing becomes difficult. After years of trial and error I found an emergency inhaler that I can use but it only works for 2 hours and can only be used twice in a day. I also use a morning inhaler.
    I didn’t have this reaction until a few years ago. While I never smoked, I worked in areas where smoking was allowed. Yet, smoke does not trigger this reaction.

    Since I work in a large high school, I find myself struggling most days. Axe is one of the worst and the boys drown themselves in it apparently thinking the commercials about this product are true. Haven’t seen it happen yet.

    Many of my co-workers are sensitive to my allergies but others seem dete3rmined to make my life miserable by testing out every perfume/fragrance they own. Some say it is my problem and I just have to deal with it. Difficult when you are struggling to breathe and have no voice to call for help.

    Personally, I prefer the scent of clean hair and skin over any artificially produced odor.

  137. I have severe asthma and have difficulty in breathing around any fragrance, smoke, pollen, and even grass being cut. I have not been to the movies since the original Star Wars third movie, I never go to a crowded restaurant and avoid crowds, just so I can breath. I am lucky that I was a stay at home mom for many years and could avoid the workplace. When I turned down a job once I used the reason of the microwave popcorn smell bothered my breathing. Every product I use for personal care and housekeeping is 100% fragrance free. I can’t even use sunscreen because of the smell. I feel fortunate that my family and freinds understand.

  138. The other thing I forgot is most people forget that perfume/cologne is meant to be put on so that it can only be smelled if people get *really* close to you. If I walk by your desk and smell it, you’re wearing too much. If I hug you and say “Oh you smell good!” Then it’s the right amount!

  139. I was pleased to see an article addressing the problem of perfume drenched co-workers. While my reaction isn’t as painful as a migraine it is still a difficult one. When I come into contact with certain perfumes, deodorants, aftershaves, and some cleaners, I have an almost instant reaction. My throat begins to close, I lose my voice and breathing becomes difficult. After years of trial and error I found an emergency inhaler that I can use but it only works for 2 hours and can only be used twice in a day. I also use a morning inhaler.
    I didn’t have this reaction until a few years ago. While I never smoked, I worked in areas where smoking was allowed. Yet, smoke does not trigger this reaction.

    Since I work in a large high school, I find myself struggling most days. Axe is one of the worst and the boys drown themselves in it apparently thinking the commercials about this product are true. Haven’t seen it happen yet.

    Many of my co-workers are sensitive to my allergies but others seem determined to make my life miserable by testing out every perfume/fragrance they own. Some say it is my problem and I just have to deal with it. Difficult when you are struggling to breathe and have no voice to call for help.

    Personally, I prefer the scent of clean hair and skin over any artificially produced odor.

  140. This is not just for women!!!! Men sometimes lay it on to think even worse the women sometime. It drives me nuts, I can’t even be in the same room. My sinuses go hay wire!!

  141. My wife has extreme sensitivity to strong scents. Once when she was in the hopsital, the nurse for her room wore excessive cologne. After she had been in the room a couple of times and filled it with her fumes, I met her at the door. I told her of my wife’s problems and asked if I could relay anything to her rather than have her enter. She got upset and reported me to security, saying that I threatened her. From now on I know to contact the nursing supervisor immediately if there are any problems.

  142. A no scent rule is not over-doing it ! Obviously a person who can say that isnt someone who really has a problem with air-born chemicals ! Yes, chemicals. That’s what is in the cheap fragrances that so many people wear that causes health issues with others. My reaction is a bit more dramtic…my throat closes up and I choke…..OVER-DOING IT ! Why dont we just put you in a slow choke hold for a few hours and see how you feel !

  143. I totaly agree I have asthma and literly can end up in an er from scents and even have to be on steriods for weeks this coulpled with a sezuire disorder triggered by sounds as simple has rubbing noises have me thinking about trying to find an at home job I am about to graduate and am a little scared because I have had a problem with this at school and where I work now. not being able to breath is the worst thing in the world!

  144. I think suing for a settlement that large is too extreme, but I wish there were better etiquette for confronting someone about it. I’m 7 months pregnant, and my nose is still driving me nuts (I promise, I can smell it when someone cracks an egg) and while the average cologne wearer in my office is fine, there’s the mail guy who comes around twice a day and it’s absolutely AWFUL. The cologne isn’t offensive, he just wears SO MUCH. I don’t even know how to politely tell him, I keep thinking it would just hurt his feelings or make him mad or defensive.

  145. Simply asking people to refrain from wearing the offending scent does not mean they will comply. People who don’t suffer with this condition simply don’t understand it.They believe you are being ridiculous, ‘whining’ and controling. They react in very childish behavior and even double up on the offending scent just to prove you wrong. Even when I have requested that they please keep their distance, they will still insist that it’s ‘not that bad’ and ‘get over it already’. Unfortunately, the more you are exposed to that chemical, the shorter the reaction time and the sicker you get. Eventually even the people who don’t have any problems will become sensitive sooner or later. People are poisoning themselves every day with endless chemicals with ‘Air Fresheners’ being the biggest culprit. Do yourself a favor and just Google ‘Are air fresheners poison?’, it just might open your eyes and change some attitudes. People are poisoning themselves every day. I really feel bad for babies and small children…their parents have no idea how much harm they are doing.
    I’m not saying you can’t wear you favorite scent…just don’t drown yourself in it and if someone requests that you refrain from wearing it because it makes them physically ill, don’t take it personally and please, please, show some compassion.

  146. It’s very nice to restrict perfume, which can be annoying, but it’s nauseating to me to see all the drama about this and nothing whatsoever about smokers. The guy in the next cube row to me smokes, and when he comes back in the whole place reeks. And he’s nowhere near the worst I’ve had to deal with. You get in an elevator and it’s instant asthma attack from someone who is oozing cigarette from every pore and there goes the rest of your day. Now you’ll spend the day (if you’re lucky) gasping for enough air and headachy from oxygen dep. If you’re not lucky you end up in ER in an oxygen mask. And even that’s lucky considering how many people die of asthma.

  147. Many of you may want to look to HSP (Highly Sensitive Person — a terrible name, but a real occurrence) for more explanation of what it’s like to have a highly-jacked nervous system. This does not mean that you are nervous or flighty — it means that you, along with 15-20% of the total population, have the same very successful survival system that kept us alive in more primal situations (think living in the wilderness when we had to compete with animals for food, shelter, and survival). HSPs distinguish subtleties that much of the rest of the population doesn’t. It can be a wonderful thing. But learning about it and how to make the most of it without going crazy makes it even better. Elizabeth Aronson has some good books about it that are readily available. Scents, bright lights, and noises can all call sensory overload, and then you have to deal with headaches, nausea, etc.

    One of the side effects of HSP is sensitivity to chemical smells. I have no problem with most natural smells, though I know better than to load my house with too many flowers. And food odors don’t seem to trigger headaches. But perfumes do. The worst are scented dryer sheets for me. I avoid that aisle in the grocery store whenever possible, and yes, I buy unscented laundry products. Don’t even ask me about air fresheners. And if you think about it, isn’t it better to get rid of the original stink rather than adding something artificial on top of it? I have heard mention of some research that says scented oils when heated actually coat sinuses, so you may be adding even more insult to injury. So try to fix the bad smell, rather than disguise it.

    HSPs make great writers, judges, artists, mediators, and other roles. But you do have to know how to manage it so you don’t fall into self medication. I have found it a wonderful asset. So the next time someone tells you you’re too sensitive, ask them compared to what? A brick? Then yes, I am, and I am grateful that I am!

  148. American people have become the most pathetic whiney population out there because we are so spoiled. And isn’t Detroit already broke and falling apart, Like they can afford to spend more money! Put a clothes pin on your nose and call it a day. Really though people complain way to much.

  149. I am glad to find this article. Working in the alternative fitness (GYROTONIC®) industry, I am exposed to people wearing fragrance all the time. Moving and breathing will intensify the scent and not only is it hard to bear it is simply unhealthy. Why do people, including myself have such adverse and often allergic reactions to this? It has to do with the fact that, from lotions to shampoos, to colognes, to deodorants and lately even laundry detergents, the scents that are added to many products have an intense chemical charge. It is not even known to us what the chemicals are that are added to these products since there is no requirement to put them on a label. Anyone with a somewhat healthy and therefore sensitive nose can sense the aggressiveness in those synthetic chemicals. I am not sure why they need to be pushed on the consumer and why we accept them.
    I am amazed that Susan McBride won her lawsuit. While I think that the suing business in this country is out of control, I am happy to hear that she got support from the justice system.
    By the way, so called ‘air fresheners’ are the worst. They are an environmental hazard and should be banned.

  150. The reaction to fragrances and other scents can be very bad for some people. I have MCS OR multiple chemical sensitivities. This is an environmental illness that cost be my job and to retire (unplanned) at age 55. I was exposed to pesticides sprayed in our office and that triggered a hyper sensitivity to all kinds of scented products including perfumes and colognes. I worked for 7 years getting sicker and sicker until I had to stop. MCS is a disease that has no test, no cure and mimicks several other diseases such as asthma. BE AWARE THAT YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BREATHE OVER SOMEONE ELSES DESIRE TO WEAR A FRAGRANCE. MAKE SURE YOUR VOICE IS HEARD LOUD AND CLEAR. You will help yourself and those who are not aware of the dangers that result from polluting their and your environment.

  151. People who are not sensative to perumes do not realize that when you get into a room with 100 people that you have to deal with 100 different frangrances each from laundry detergents, fabric softeners, soaps, shampoos, hair conditioners, hair products, deoderants, perfuems, aftershaves not to mention cleaning products. One persons pleasnat oder can trigger a headache, a bout of coughing that lasts all day and in some extreme cases a fatal asthma attack. It is like having a cold that will not go away. It wears you down, makes you tired and sometimes makes it difficult to keep your eyes open, all of which are no conducive to maximum productivity.

  152. I have been trying to educate people on this issue for approximately 10 years now. Perfumes, colognes, potpourri, air freshener, scented candles, etc., are migraine triggers for me. In my office my co-workers are aware of my sensitivity to scents and they keep it toned down. If people actually looked at the ingredients in perfumes and colognes they would be appalled. There’s a reason they’re called “pretty poison”.

  153. I just need to add that people with this odor disorder are generally unable to have any long or short lasting relationships. Their nose gets in the way of bonding. In many case studies there is a relationship between this illness and their early memories of their mother. Which perfume did old mom wear?
    Many studies show that it can also be the father who is the underlying problem. Perhaps he was a smoker, a drinker, or worse yet; used a cheap after-shave.
    There are also studies about early childhood pets. Children who had hampsters are more prone to an odor disorder. The family dog has also been shown to be an underlying cause.
    The Chinese wear masks, and all along you probably thought it was to guard against bacteria.

  154. I have a sisiter that litterally had to retire early because her co workers put perfume on purposely because they, I guess, wanted to torment her. HR did not help because they did not believe it either. Her allergies are so bad she would go from asthma, to bronchitis to pneumonia. Her resistance is so low now, due to constant exposure, that the slightest scent causes a major illness. I have allergies too & my boss wears perfume..her response, whwn I tell her is that is the same perfume she wears everyday so she doesn’t know why I am complaining. Meanwhile heavy scents bother her too. Most people, sadly, are just ignorant!!!

  155. It’s about time this is legally being recognized. I have alergies and asthma and perfume causes breathing difficulties. Perfume wearers don’t get it. They’re obnoxious smelling to more people than they realize. And then they think they have to “refresh” throughout the day!!!

    In the late 80′s I asked the manager to do something about the receptionist’s perfume. I was having alergy attacks and would have to leave everyday. Costing ME money. The manager would do nothing. Other employees complained about it to, but none of them had breathing difficulties. At least now I could have legal recourse.

  156. I suffered as well. I have asthma that is triggered by heavy scents. A coworker would freshen up (put on more perfume) after driving to work, after morning, noon and afternoon breaks. That’s four additions of perfume after the initial one at her home. With five people in a 10’x10’ room you need to be sensitive to others. I asked her not to freshen up and to go light on the perfume. She wouldn’t. First I went to my boss with my compliant, to no effect. Then I went to her boss to no effect. Finally I went to everyone’s boss, and he did nothing.

    The situation of bathing in perfume escalated to interpersonal conflict. When she was mad at me, she would add on extra perfume. I would get an asthma attack and leave work sick. My doctor became concerned that I was using rescue inhalers at a greater rate than before. It didn’t take long for me to decide to not wait for full blown asthma attacks and I started to go home more often.

    The situation was only resolved when I took another job. This is after the company paid for my collage, and gave me a promotion and pay raise in reward for my degree. When a new job was offered to me, I made a Pro and Con list. Assigned numbers to everything. The two jobs were even, maybe even a little in the favor of the small company. Then I added the perfuming coworker to the list, and the scale tipped, heavily. No matter how much I liked my job, or how much I like all but one coworker, I could not stay there.

    In the end, the small company lost an engineer that had been with them since the first year the company was created. An engineer they had groomed and paid good money to get a degree. However, they got to keep a data entry clerk.

  157. Relatively simple solution to most of the concerns I have read here. A quick trip to your doctor, obtain a letter stating you do have migraines and they can be triggered by allergic reaction to certain fragrances. Take a copy of that letter to your HR person and submit it into your file. If HR will not help you to rectify the situation, you can claim a “hostile work environment” against the company and HR will have to do something to allow you to continue your employment with the company. To add another problem to HR, you can ask for FMLA paperwork, if your doctor will approve them, this will cover your attendance record for days you leave work or cannot work the following day due to an allergic reaction at work. Of course you do not get paid for FMLA hours but the company can not build an attendance record against you. Your HR and Doctor will explain all details. This will not help you in a popularity contest at work, but you can at least still work there. Hope this helps someone..migraines are real and very hard to deal with.

  158. I can’t believe how insensitive some people are. I’ve always known people who have bad allergies and try to be sensitive to their misery (because bad allergies really are misery). My boss has terrible allergies to any type of scent (flowers, perfume, etc) and while I would prefer to use a light spray of perfume on a daily basis, I choose not to because she’s so miserable. Anyone who likes to see others in this kind of misery is really a troll, especially over perfume, something that’s not a necessity to life.

  159. I dont have allergies and I like to wear perfume. I’m also sensitive to people that have allergies. My mother has allergies and I cant even wear hairspray around her without her going into an attac. I have worked at the same place for the last 7 years and I share an office with my billing lady and I worked with the same lady for five years and she retired so naurally they hired a new lady and the new lady and I got along fine and after working with her for a few months she proceeded to tell me that perfume and other scents bother her and I apologized to her saying that I wasnt aware and I will no longer wear perfume. The same day and after she talked to me and I thought we had it resolved the manager of the company came to talk to me about the new girls problem I reasured him that we already had the discussion earlier and I wouldnt be wearing perfume to work anymore.
    I’m not sure why she felt the need to go to the manager after our discussion? Did she want me to run home and shower and change my clothes? Was my response to her about not wearing perfume to work anymore not good enough for her?
    I guess what I’m trying to say is if someones perfume is triggering your sinuses then just have a simple talk with that person and I’m sure they will understand. Unless they dont like you and want to make your day at work misserable.
    But what I dont understand is that my perfume was bothering her but she had scented candles and scented wall plug ins on her side of the office. I shower every morning befor coming work so I dont think its me and if it was wouldnt you think she wwould want me to wear the perfume? IDK she no longer works here and we have hired a new billing lady and she likes to wear perfume as well so it all worked out.

  160. It’s so good to know I’m not alone. All my life people have treated me like I make this stuff up. I get bad headaches from some scents. I once went to a car dealership to buy a car, the whole place smelled like vanilla, I almost threw up. I told the car salesman the scent was making me sick and he looked at me like I was crazy…I went to the dealer across the street to buy my car.

    A few years ago I was a partner at a company, we hired a new HR manager, this lady proceeded to put these air fresheners in every room that released a blast of coconut/vanilla scent every few minutes. She also burned scented candles, a lot of the ladies in the officew started following suit. Out of the 130 employees, I was the only one that got sick from this (some of the guys complained about the stink but didn’t get sick from it) I called this lady in to my office several times to tell her it was making me sick but she had an attitiude with me, said it was neccessary in an office with so many employees. I was told that she and the other candle burners would talk behind my back and call me names etc. After several months of headaches and trying to reason with this lady I finally had to fire her. Hopefully she will read this article before she causes her next boss to be sued

  161. I complained cause the woman I work with took a bath with Bath Body Works soap, then body spritz and old lady perfume on top of it!!!!!!!!!!

    Our work station is maybe 20 by 9 ft and poorly ventilated. Plus, we have to sit like 2 foot from each other.

    I had to go to HR and my Director to get her to cut down and she went on to tell EVERYONE what I did to make me look like the bad guy, but she doesn’t know most everyone else felt the same, they just had no ba_ls to say anything cause they are affraid of getting laid off or something.

    Now it’s a Handbook policy, but I’m the only one who complained according to her and they changed Co. policy just for me!!!! LOL.

    She’s nice, but gross as hell………….chewing, snorting, slamming doors, crotch rot……… name it.

    I had to say something. I thought I was gonna go into anaphylactic shock one day. I had to do something………I’d rather smell body odor than white diamonds all damn day.

  162. I totally agree. I like to say that some people are using industrial strength cologne/perfume and taking a bath in the stuff! I’m sensitive to certain fragrances, especially floral, and had a few co-workers who would bring fresh flowers to work. I had to tell my supervisor that the floral scent was triggering headaches/nausea and I’d have to leave for the day. I work in a hospital and people didn’t believe I was sensitive to scents. It took a lecture from one of the physicians that I work with to get the manager to understand (HR was my next resort).

  163. After reading this article, I feel vindicated and finally understood. For years I rode to work for 1.5hr on a commuter bus. Inevitably, there would be someone wearing enough perfume to douse the entire bus in a matter of seconds. I would become nauseous and have terrible headaches. During my bus riding days, I’d seen that metro buses began offering ‘quiet cars’ & I thought great idea; commuter buses should offer ‘no scent’ buses. I sent an email to the bus company to suggest it. While their representative was somewhat sympathetic he did not believe it a feasible and cost effective option. Obviously, if there are so many people affected in the same manner perhaps it’s not such an outlandish request! Keep your smells to yourselves – one (wo)man’s perfume is another (wo)man’s stench.

  164. Your reaction to the comments here are exactly the same reactions we ‘whiners’ get when we talk to people one-on-one…insenitivity and a lack of compassion for another person’s suffering.

  165. Yes, this really IS a serious issue! It’s not just a matter of preference – not wanting to smell a certain substance – it is often a health issue. A good comparison would be tobacco smoke, or peanut oil fumes for someone who is allergic. Even for those of us who don’t have allergies, chemicals can negatively impact us. I once developed an excruciating headache from someone who decided to give herself a manicure in a train! In the enclosed space, the smell of both the polish remover & the new color applied were intolerable.

  166. I had a co-worker laugh at me when I told her that I had to go to emergency the day she started working in my bank branch. She continued to challenge me when I mentioned to her that her perfume bothered me. I had to go to her boss and to HR. It took several episodes for people to catch on – they thought I was exaggerating. Another time, it was a customer coming into my office to complain loudly about her overdraft charges. I had to close the door and then she kept leaning over my desk screaming about the fees. She was of different ethnicity than myself and was wearing something very strong that was triggering an asthma attack. I got up to open the door and explained that her perfume was bothering me. She became immediately hostile and left in a huff. Obviously she was extremely offended and the language barrier was not helping. She complained to another branch manager about me, saying that I was rude. Before HR heard from her, I had called them telling them that I had a problem. My HR was not very responsive and said that there was nothing they could do. They did not want to offend customers. I could have a computer installed in the conference room so I could take “stinky” customers in there where there would be more “air space”. They could not post any signs in the bank branch that would turn any customers away. Customers were more important that I was. I no longer work there.
    This is a huge problem and if people don’t suffer with this affliction, they cannot possibly understand. We are just making it up! This issue needs to be brought to the attention of all employers! We need the help.

  167. What is it with little old ladies and Este Lauder???? When I come across most perfumes I get a headache, but with Este Lauder, full blown migraine. It makes me so mad I want to yell at these poor little things, but of course you can’t. All you can do is suffer out the migraine.

  168. There is hope. Recent studies at L’Ecoile de le Nez have shown that over 50% of those studied were “bugger-eaters.” 25% reached into their noses as deeply as their little finger was long.
    On average, ten years of psychotherapy, will solve the problem.

  169. I deal with excessive perfume application in school all the time, though usually it’s Axe and Tag. The guys spray a cloud of it in the room and get away with it, while I struggle to breathe. The teacher does not even talk to them about it. If my school is ‘scent-free”, why haven’t these people actually been punished?

  170. I don’t know what it is about people. Everyone around me: family, friends, coworkers, knows that I have issues with frangrance. I have made it clear, and asked people to be more sensitive. I have respiratory issues, and a chronic cough. I’ve been to several doctors (pulmonary specialist, allergist, ENT, etc). Despite my pleas, and knowing how much I suffer, some people still wear fragrance around me. My own daughter fights me on this issue! She thinks that if she applies the fragrance in another room, then it shouldn’t bother me. People don’t seem to understand that fragrant body wash is just as bad as perfume. Let me rephrase that: people refuse to be inconvenienced. They refuse to believe that body wash and lotion are just as bad. Some people resent having to go without fragrance for the sake of a family member, friend, or coworker, as if fragrance is a right.

  171. I worked in a hospital once. The rule was: NO SCENT ! That included hair spray, hair products, deodorant, etc. If it was detectable, you were sent home. That eliminated lots of problems. No compromise of any kind.

  172. I have a super sensitive nose certain shampoo, lotion, deoderant, make up etc will cause headaches. I work in an office setting with 3 other women, but we have workers then come in with funky body oder and there is a airwick spray thing in the corner. luckily the women dont wear much perfume but the air freshner is killing me. when my sinuses start hurting, my eyes water, my teeth hurt and it is very hard to function like this.. but i do i need my job and i know if i complain i will be labled a complainer and be replaced. however one of the other ladies in the room OFTEN complains about food smells, i cant smell eggs i’ll throuw up, or the spaegetti is to strong. she can eat one thing for lunch on monday and if i eat the exact same thing on thursday she’s complaining its a no win situation

  173. Seriously, the problem is with the cheap perfumes, the amount, and the time of day that people wear them. Most perfumes are loaded with alcohol, and people’s skins react differently to these chemicals. A perfume does not smell the same on everybody. I have a girlfriend who claims she is allergic to these things, yet she loves what I wear. It is not surprising because this fragrance in particular costs $2,350 an ounce. Just a tiny drop of it on the finger is all I need.

  174. John
    …what would you suggest if you talk to the person and they feel it’s their right to bathe in the stuff? HR can’t do anything without a fragrance-free policy in place. I just quit my 70K a year job because after three months I was still having headaches from my co-workers cologne. Managements response was to move me 30 feet away in an open cubicle environment. I haven’t heard any whining on this blog only people with valid health concerns. Sometimes people are just so inconsiderate they don’t care about anyone but themselves…even if you are polite.

  175. To the guy that calls us “Whiny Babies”; I’m not aware of anyone in this world who chooses to have an allergy…to nuts or strawberries or wheat or dairy or yes, even smells, odors and scents that also can cause sickly and deadly reactions in an individual. So open your mind and begin to have a clue. It’s not a choice nor a dislike to scents and perfumes. Its an illness that could potentially have life threatening consequences.

    I too suffer from this unfortunate illness. I love flowers and candles and would love to be able to wear lovely perfumes etc. But I can’t have anything to do with any of them. They make me extremely ill. And trust me, it’s NOT my choice!

  176. My dad was once stuck on the ground in an airplane for 2 hours. The women in front of him decided to redo her nails while they were waiting. Not only the nail polish, but the remover too. Talk about being trapped, they won’t let you off to get fresh air. Thankfully this stuff should never get on board now.

  177. I too have problems with perfume in cologne, cleaning supplies, air fresheners, etc. I have allergic reactions to these and the allergic reaction then triggers my asthma. I develped asthma due to co-workers going out for a smoke (another trigger) and then dousing themselves with cologne afterwards within a few feet from me. It got so bad that I quit the job because my supervisor would not handle this issue for me. I even talked to Human Resources and they did nothing.

  178. I’m retired, so the odors people bring to an office are no longer an issue.

    Elevators are the bane of my existence, and I live on the top floor of a 27 floor apartment building. When someone gets on the elevator on a lower floor, reeking of what smells like insecticide, I’m very courteous and helpful, with the following conversation:

    “Good morning. I couldn’t help noticing the odor when you got on the elevator. You might want to check the bottom of your shoes.”

    The embarrassment is priceless.

  179. I can understand both sides.

    While I’ve never had a reaction to any perfumes, colognes, or air fresheners I know people that do. They get horrible headaches, sneeze, cough, all of the above, or other things. These things are hard to deal with at home or in a restaurant but at work when you’re trying to make a living it must be horrible.

    However, I can also say that from personal experience smelling someone who doesn’t bathe, or use deodorant stinks, no pun intended. I went to school and had several classes with a guy who I swear bathed maybe once a week. His odor was even stronger after he had any P.E. classes. It was horrible especially if you had to sit anywhere near him or if he happened to walk by you. I used to spray perfume on the neck opening of my hoodie, that I wore in cold classrooms, so that when he walked by or something I could smell it instead of him.

  180. I am so grateful to have publicity of these allergies. I not only get headaches but my breating gets restricted, nausea, weakness in my limbs and I am ill for hours after. My reactions come instantly within air contact and I literally have to hold my breath and flee the room or I will pass out. I dread going into office situations with new people because of not knowing when a particular perfume or cleaning product will affect me. And I used to love wearing perfume. The scents that bother me are beautiful fragrances. It has nothing to do with liking or not liking the scent. I had a coworker that was so self centered about not wearing her perfume around me I also had to take it to HR.

  181. Thank you for this article. I suffer from asthma and allergies. Certain chemicals trigger my asthma condition. Cleaners, fabric softeners, air fresheners, perfumes, hair care products and skin care products. I have noticed that it seems to be the smokers and substance abusers that over douse themselves. Management’s directives to the offenders never seem to last for very long. Luckily, those of us in this workplace that have chemical sensitivity can move to another area when we have to.

  182. I have worked for several years now with two people who wear overbearing cologne. It is sometimes unbearable and on those days I try to avoid contact and keep my office door closed. I do not hide the fact that the smell bothers me, as I cover my face with a tissue to help reduce the odor whenever I have to be near them, and vocalize my aversion to certain smells. Now we have another person, who suddenly decided to use scented candles that permiate the entire office, I have already complained about this twice, and I have not noticed it for a couple of weeks, but only because I had pointed out that I considered it a fire hazard with as much paper as our office (and that person) handles. What I have issues with, that still remain unresolved is Lysol Disinfectant Spray…this triggers severe migranes. The person that uses it has a condition that results in low immunity, so anytime someone in the office comes down with a cold, or some other kind of bug…out comes her can of Lysol and she goes to town on her desk and cubby area (even though no one ever touches anything on her desk). I pointed out to my direct supervisor that this triggers migranes, she suggested that I explain this to the person so that she would stop using it. Well I did, and the person’s response was that her health condition was her major concern, and since people came to work sick, and she had to be at work with them, she was going to use her Lysol, she is a deacons wife after all. So the next time it happened, I suggested to her that she at least warn me before she used it, so that I could leave the office for a while, giving the fumes time to dissipate. Well she did finally remember to tell me…but only after she had sprayed, unfortunately my exit route was right through the fumes. Currently, I advise my supervisor, depending on what time of day it occurs, that (1) I am leaving the office for at least 30 minutes, and should not be docked as this was not my choice, or, if late enough in the day (2) I am leaving the office for the day and should not be docked, as this also was not my choice. I have managed to avoid migranes now, for three months, by doing this. I might add, that I only get by with this because I have the ability to work from home, and the other person’s position is not one that allows this flexibiilty.

  183. I suffered from terrible morning sickness when I was pregnant with my first child. I also worked in cubicle hell at a call center the time. Some of my co-workers believed in the French hygiene method–drown it in cologne and assume it’s covering up the stench of body odor–NOT! Thankfully, when I found myself in this situation, I alerted my supervisor and because we didn’t have permanent cubicles, I was usually able to be assigned a cubicle in cleaner airspace. (Of course, I think being pregnant was a plus in this situation)
    I think people should just be mindful, that although it’s a wonderful scent, we live in a world where people and children have allergies and breathing troubles (due to our mistreatment of the atmosphere) and we should respect others’ right to breathe freely.

  184. I understand that scents can cause problems for people but do not expect them to be mind readers and know they cause problems for you. I was disappointed that someone was able to say they caused a problem and sue, without providing medical proof. I suffer from migraines so I do sympathize, but if you suffer that or other issues proof should be required before making an entire office change their habits. After all if you provide proof such as a letter from your doctor then it makes more sense to your co-workers, rather than it just sounds like you are complaining about their personal choices.

  185. I too, am very sensitive to scents and it is true people do not take us seriously. I get very ill if I encounter scents even if it smells good. I have smelled some that were wonderful but in a matter of minutes I develope a serious headache, burning of the nostrils and dizziness. I nearly passed out once when I was in a small room with a woman who smelled like she took a bath in perfume.

  186. For years friends & family thought I was joking about my chemical sensitivity. It is so nice to know I am not alone in this… finally! It is also smokers who trigger this. When I did smoke…. more than 25 years ago I had no idea how offensive I was… I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to those I offended.

  187. I have to agree with Laura on this one. I too suffer from sinus and migraine issues associated with fragrances. I’ve even had to go so far as to make organic soaps and scrubs for me to use because now skin irritations are becoming associated with the manufactured items. People who don’t suffer from these conditions have no idea the pain it causes. I used to work at an office where everyone just loved to burn candles. I’d be the B!t@h and walk down the hall and ask them to put it out. After a wihle..they got the hint. But a few were insistent. And our HR dept was terrible at following up on this. I had to share an office for a while. It got to where if anyone was hired on, the first day I’d tell them that I was allergic to it and ask them not to wear it. One girl kept insisting on doing it.. So i threw it all away while she was gone one day. She never said a word. If you’re going to do something that causes me to miss work because I’ve become ill….then you don’t have the right to do it. It’s just like smoking in a building. There are rules against that. I don’t see where there can’t be some type of stipulation on bathing in perfumes or flooding a work place with candle odors. If I wanted to smell it, I’d have done it for myself.

  188. About a month ago I went to my boss and to HR concerning my allergic reaction to perfumes and other scents in the workplace. Each of them told me the same thing that I should taking it up with the person(s). They made the problem, my problem. I thought about this, but I could find no reasonably way to let other co-coworkers including the cleaing people that the scnets and products they were using were affecting my ability to do my job. I continue to suffer.

  189. C.A.L., you sound like a huge pussy. You should put a plastic bag over your head and hold the bottom tight. Surely, your suffering is too much.

  190. What people don’t realize is that fragrance is meant to be “intimate”. Meaning that people should not be able to smell you from across the room, only when up close. There is nothing worse than walking into a room crowded with a bunch of people drenched in their own type of perfume…all clashing.

    The unfortunate thing is your own senses get used to your perfume/cologne, so most people reapply and others around them tend to suffer. The best thing for these people to do is to ask a friend before reapplying. These over scented people unfortunately ruin it for everyone.

  191. You’re wrong! Approaching someone directly vs. annoymously is completely insane. Some people (more than we can even imagine) have mental issues or worse… are vendictive! If you can’t do it annoymously, expect to have your tires slashed or as the woman above wrote… cologne smeared all over your phone. I’m allergic to some perfumes and colognes. Probably, the cheaper ones and my throat closes up, whereas, I have great difficulty breathing. Plus, my eyes sting. It is much more serious than you think and by going to Human Resources is often the only answer and should always be the very first step to resolving a person’s issue and/or complaint. I was on a plane once and a woman pulled out a bottle of $#!* and basically poured it all over herself. In an effort to stay alive, I immediately put on a masked and then I proceeded to cover my entire face with a huge hankerchief to avoid breathing any of the fumes. I looked like an idiot for the next five hours; however, I could have died, so I didn’t have a choice. I also had an immediate migraine. Lastly, it should be policy for airlines, because often times… we can’t change seats.

  192. Finally – this issue is being brought out in the open! As someone who gets an instant migraine when exposed to strong scents, I can empathize. It’s a nightmare to have to work with someone who drenches themselves in a potent perfume. I’ve even moved to a different pew during a church service because someone’s perfume made it impossible for me to breathe. I have to run by Bath & Body Works and Yankee Candle stores, because these are lethal to me. People without this sensitivity just don’t get it. This is a serious health issue, and needs to be treated as such.

  193. I cannot tolerate some fragrances and others used in moderation are quite pleasant. If I’m confronted by someone that over does it with the cologne I tell them, hey nice cologne. When they feel the compliment then I hit them with the, “Did ya have to freaking marinate in it?”

  194. I have asthma and migraines and when people take a bath in perfumes, it makes me sick for days. I have yet to figure out why people feel the need to use so much at one time. The do not consider that others will have some sort of reaction. I am so thankful to work in a small office where no one wears perfumes or colognes.

  195. I used to be one of those people who put on a frangrance every day. However, when I found out the lady that I shared a cubicle with had allergies, I stopped. I didn’t use scented anything from that point on because I knew it bothered her and because I admired and respected this lady, it was not an imposition. I did find that when I tried to wear perfume on the weekends when I was not at work, that I had developed allergies to it. In a way, she did me a favor. It’s one less expense to worry about on top of all the other things we women have to purchase.

  196. This was my mom. Still is. She is beyond sensitive to perfum’s, cologne’s and the such. I remember when she was still working, that some rude co-workers of hers would douse themselves in various perfum’s. I can remember at least 2 incidents where my mom was rushed to the emergency room because her throat closed up. Since my father was a trucker at the time, I was the one called to go pick her up and take her home.

    She even had a note from her doctor stating that she is highly allergic to scents especially floral ones. It triggered her migraines (which she gets for other reasons too) as well as a severe reaction, restricting breathing. What did her company do? The moved her daily to different seats, while her coworkers had “permenant” seating. It would depend on who wore what each day. Instead of just banning the obnoxious stuff.

    I have even gone so far as to not allow perfume’s and cologne’s to be worn at my wedding next month.

  197. I have delt with this problem for years now. I went to doctor after doctor trying to figure out what was triggering my migraines only to find out that it was the women around me and their perfume. I have politely asked them not to wear it in my department. They have stopped wearing it but the department over the wall continues to do so. I have asked them to stop wearing it and so has management and they said no. They love their perfume too much to stop wearing it. We went to HR about it and they stated they cannot enforce a company wide restriction on perfume even though it is causing a medical problem for me and I understood that is asking a lot so I just asked that it be stoped in my immediate area as I am litterly unable to function at work. I have migraines 3 days out of a week. They refused to do so. Mainly because they are the biggest offenders. The HR department is filled with Women who are doused with perfume. I don’t th ink they realize how much they are putting on. You should not be able to smell them coming down the hall or smell them 10 minutes after they have left. They banned smoking because it effected the air we breathe but they can’t ban perfume? Is it really that important to smell nice at the office? who are you trying to impress? You are here to work nothing else. I am a women. I love the smell of the fragrances but I physically cannot be around it as it makes me violently ill to the point that I have to take a shot. I would rather smell your Body Odor or your stinky cigarettes than the beautiful smell of flowers just so I can function and get my job done.

  198. I have reactive airway disease and am very sensitive to strong chemicals and odors which can trigger asthma attacks. It has gotten worse over the years. I had a co-worker that moved next to my cubical and proceeded to use a plug-in which would make it hard for me to breath. She knew I had trouble with scented things, I nicely let her know it was making me sick and she took it to her supervisor and then there was a meeting with them, our HR person and my supervisor. From that the two supervisors had to report to the director, when it would have been less time consuming and costly to our department if she had just taken it home. We’ve had one incident since then when something was sprayed and I had a problem, and nobody knew what happened. My supervisor and the HR person came to my area and noticed it as soon as they walked in, but no one person in my area admitted to smelling anything. I’m afraid I haven’t smelled the last of this.

  199. I feel for all of you with chemical allergies to perfumes. He is also allergic to some dyes used soaps.My husband has a similar issue. When he is around strong perfumes and scents, especially “old lady” perfumes as he puts it, he has trouble breathing, his face turns red and his skin starts to peel. We have to be careful with laundry soap, dish washing soap, and cleaners. Thank goodness for perfume and dye-free products! He has had to deal with a few workplaces with people who use strong air fresheners and perfumes. Avon days are the worst, as most people want to smell their new products when they come in.He finds that most people will be considerate once he explains his reaction but there are some who don’t seem to understand or care. Usually HR helps with that. He did find that after he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and started getting treated for that, the allergic reactions became less severe. He still has to be careful though. Luckily, it is not a constant problem and he hasn’t had to go to the emergency room. The worst part is that in our local Mall there is a spot were there is a Yankee Candle Company across from a Amber Crombie and Fitch. They are located in the central corridor. Both belch out strong smells and we have to rush by or walk on the outside of the mall.Even places of business can be offenders, particularly ones who use scent to sell their products.

  200. I have had a couple of occurences at work the latest was sented oil with sticks in it to draw it out. The co-worker had a back office so it only was a problem in her office, which I could work around by calling her on the phone. However, when she moved her office next to mine and the scent came with her, I had an instant headache. I just asked her if she could take it home, since it was causing me headaches. She ended up moving it to the front of the office where it took up residence with the office administrator. Again I had to ask her to remove it since I had to walk by it a good 15 times a day. She immediately took care of it and told me she was sorry. As it turned out 3 other people were affected and didn’t know how to ask and told me how much they appreciated my bringing it up.

  201. I think the HR issues come in when we do deal with it one on one first and the person we are dealing with refuses to listen. Some people are very apologetic, and most are complian – not realizing the health issues it causes. Others however treat it as a personal attack on them and refuse to see reason or compromise. That’s where the escalation of the situation takes place. Like I said..the majority of people who don’t suffer from this sensitivity think those that do are making it up. But I can assure you there’s nothing pleasant about spending a day at work with a severe headache, sweats, nausea, dizziness, nose bleeds, congestion, blurred vision and a near complete inability to even hold your head up. That’s my reactions to the chemical triggers. Each person is different.

  202. This article and comments have made to be a little more sensitive as I do wear colognes (expensive ones). I’m also a migraine sufferer but colognes don’t trigger’s once I have the migraine is when any scent affects me.

  203. I am happy finally people are talking about this subjet.
    Perfumes, colognes, deodorisers should be banned the same way as cigaretts were banned.
    I believe it is very selfish of people to put on cologne they like assuming the rest of the world has to accept and have to inhale that terrible smell which for the people that cannot resist it goes all the way through the nostrills directly to the center of the brain.
    I really get very sick if I am eating and smell cologne around me, or makes me very irritated to shake somebodys hand full of scent.
    I hope some law or action will be taken to prohibit the use of all this scents which causes many allergic reactions to people and invade your privacy of territorial space around your body.

  204. I admire your thoughfulness in finding a way to turn the employee’s actions to both trap him and find a solution, and I do embrace the concept of win/win situations being preferable in most cases.

    Still, I wonder why you did not bring disciplinary action against the employee. This person was callous in his disregard for your request, underhanded and spiteful in choosing to get even with you, insubordinate to his manager, and relentless in his efforts so that they cannot be attributed to a one time lapse of judgment. Reasonably, one might anticipate that he will apply those behaviors to another person–a person who is not equipped as you were to address the problem and who may suffer in silence. Your employee appears to be a bully; bullies only escalate their negative behaviors when they are not held accountable.

  205. Hi
    true chemical allergies are not very common, this person must live a miserable life, whereever you are you will be exposed to some allergens. However, many people in an office simply wear very stron smelling fragrances, and frankly some of them do not even smell pleasant, especially the musk based scents, which I find overwhelming and it closes my throat at times (but it is not an allergy) How can one tell that person that their smell is too much?

  206. I totally agree with Susan Mcbride, I experienced an extreme aromatic conditions, when three of my female coworkers would smell over perfumed.
    The pungent conditions resulted in a severe sinus infection and three days off.
    We had collectively discussed the issue and the my female associates complied with the requests (back by doctors order) to reduce the level.

    when you can smell a person prior to their arrival and up to 15 minutes after their departure, it is way too much.

    This scent issue should be regulated simular to the tobacco issue

  207. If you had to expderience some of these PAINFUL headaches, vomiting and other symptons, you think you would not do the same thing? PLEASE! You are sadly mistaken. I think you are very selfish in telling someone to “quit whining” and as far as being PC, I do not care if I am PC or not. I know how I feel and I feel you are being very insensative!

  208. One of the major reasons I switched from office labor to manual labor a decade ago was because I could no longer handle the various perfumes of co-workers. Not only do I experience physical allergic reactions, it also affects what I call the ‘b e youTch switch.’ It was one against many, so, I chose to work from the cab of a truck!

  209. While I sympathize, my biggest problem is smokers. Even though they might not smoke in the building, their person reeks of the toxic poisons they obtain on their smoke breaks, the drive in to the office, etc. Not only does it smell bad but it makes me very, very sick. I’m HIGHLY allergic to the second hand smoke and the problems it causes me can last for weeks.

    I have a personal policy now that none of my doctors, nurses, hair stylists, etc can smoke. If they do, I take my business elsewhere. And if there is a business that allows their employees to smoke outside in front of their establishment I turn my car around and take my business someplace else.

  210. As someone who doesn’t have allergies or asthma nor gets migraines I had no idea that the hand lotion I used a couple times a day was bothering my colleague on the other side of the cube wall. Not until I got a call from our HR asking me to please stop in as they had an issue to discuss. That’s when they asked about my perfume. Talk about confused! I don’t even own perfume of the traditional sort, just lotions. We went rounds trying to figure out what it was that was bothering him. I switched to unscented hairsprays, unscented everything I could think of. The problem persisted and HR kept calling me in. I finally had to go and talk to my colleague about it. That’s when we both realized it was the hand lotion and I’ve since switched to an unscented variety of that.

    Please if scents are a problem for you, talk to the person wearing it. It’s possible they may not know that fragrances are issues for people (I didn’t) and are more than willing to change to accomodate. No one should have to work in a place that makes them physically ill.

  211. Yup, me too.
    What I would like to know is, what is it in those scented products that causes this.
    I can be effected by stuff 20 minutes or longer after a person has left the area.
    Maybe a few lawsuits against the manufactorer will cause change.

  212. I’m highly reactive to all scents, bleach, chemicals, gas, deisel, etc. If I’m lucky, I “only” get migraines. Usually, it triggers seizures and I’m out of it for hours or days. One of my pet peeves is overwhelming scent in public restrooms. I carry a mask in my purse. When are people going to GET IT?

  213. A cautionary tale for all heads of HR. I used to work with a woman who had a hygine problem that she tried to cover up with perfume. Her manager went to HR to ask them to talk to the woman about it. HR ignored the managers plea for intervention. One of the guys in the department took it upon themselves to leave a box of Masigill in a plain brown paper sack on her desk. The woman was so offended she left and never came back. If HR had taken the time to speak with this woman, her feelings and her job may have been spared.

  214. Guh, I deal with this every day! There’s this woman that has to be right on top of me the entire day, just to annoy me, and I swear she puts 10 gallons of perfume on. She always asks why I’m bothered by it because she likes it. I always reply, “You’re putting too much on, and you’re in my personal space. Please go away.” And she huffs, and goes away. I HATE HER. I wish she worked in the other building.

  215. Everyone has stories, but no suggestions about how to handle the problem. I don’t have problems at work, but when I go out to a restraunt or concert there always seems to be someone that ends up being seated near-by. What to do?

  216. Yes, I have a co-worker with apparantly useless olfactories. The years and gallons of cheap Avon perfume have rendered them lame. It is beyond awful. She can not walk past you without knocking you over with the utter stench. There are waves arising from her cubicle similar to waves of heat coming off of searing pavement. Headaches are a given; nasal pain, light-headedness, coughing are just extras. I’ve twice said something to our boss, who has twice said something to her. Thanks to this article, I now realize I have legal recourse if something is not done.

  217. I have that same promblem in my work place but it comes from women on wearing cheap perfume. It mess with my asthma any make me gag

  218. Some fragrances make me faint. I do not mean get dizzy or whoozy. I mean faint. I seem to be able to tolerate any natural fragrance that does not have artificial ingredients, like musk, peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus, etc. There is a couple of department stores where I have to make a wide detour from the perfume section. I have to insist my girlfriends wear the perfumes that I have checked out first.Ususally this is not a problem as long as I buy it, and I have to buy very expensive perfume.

  219. maybe you should go live in a cave. the world should not have to bend to all your specific needs. All this nonsense is getting out of hand. Every physical body has its own unique smell. Ask any dog, cat, or even Londoners who could not afford candles in the old days, recognized family members by their smelll when the daylight went down each night.

  220. Everyone in my family is sensitive to fragrances to some extent or another. I work at a law firm and had to tell the attorney on more than one occasion that I have to leave for the rest of the day when certain clients came in because not only was I allergic to their “scent” but they would put so much on that it takes 24 hours for the odor to vacate the office.

    I am not talking about getting just a headache or sneezes. My throat closes up and it becomes difficult to breathe. Our office is non-smoking but I think we need to put up another sign for no colognes too.

  221. I agree with McBride, I worked in a casino, a customers perfume created an allergic reaction, which then caused a massive asthma attack. I had told my boss what was happening and she did nothing. 20 minutes later I collapsed and ended up being rushed to hospital by ambulance. They didn’t think I’d make it, they thought I’d die before I reached the hospital. Lucky for me I had GREAT doctors and EMT’s. I should have sued, but I didn’t. I thought she might learn from it, but she didn’t. Guess I should have sued!

  222. I do feel for people with allergies and I do know some people don’t know when to use discretion . It would help to also have air cleaning systems in each office building because it is probably a combination of things that causes the reaction including poor air circulation. I do try to be sensitive to those with allergies but I am concerned about the comment about soup and lotion. Even ‘pure’ soaps have scents and I don’t have the money to invest in unscented everything for one co-worker. That affects my rights as well. What do we do?

  223. I am so glad to know that there are many people with the same problems that I have been plauged with for years. Cigarette smoke, perfumes, and so many other scents really make me sick. I have to go to the doctor and get medicine it bothers me so. I can breathe these chemicals and it doesn’t go away it lasts for days until I seek medical attention. I take Singulair on a daily basis it helps alot, but if I have to breathe much of the offensive smell it still makes me sick enough to require breathing treatments. I am so thankful for the no smoking policy of public places including the workplace.

  224. What about lingering second-hand cigarette smoke odors from your boss’ clothing and that trail him while returning from a smoke break? Besides my allergies to fragrances and their ingredients, I’m especially sensitive to cigarette smoke. There’s no air freshener on the market to actually rid the air of lingering cigarette smoke odors. My work performance isn’t affected by the horrible cigarette smoke odors just my breathing. My nasal passages never are cleared of the smoke odors because I don’t have anything in my home with fragrances that I can inhale to replace the odors. My house is a dye-free and fragrance-free home. Any suggestions for dealing with a boss who is a fair person and likely wouldn’t be offended. He would likely make snippy comments periodically.

  225. I don’t know what they are putting in fragrances these days that cause people to have these kinds of reactons, but it seems pretty severe. I do agree that there are people who overpower the air supply with their scents. I am so glad that the smoke-free workplace became mandatory because a woman in my office smoked like a chimney and the smoke/fumes go in my hair and my clothes and it was sickening.

    Some years later, a woman in the graphics department complained about my fragrance. Her supervisor told me about it and asked me to not wear it. So I stopped wearing it. I kept a jacket at work and did not realize that the fragrance was on that as well; so when it made her sick, I took the jacket home. I decided to change fragrances altogether, thinking that the particular “mix” that I was wearing had made her sick. That new fragrance made her sick as well. I stopped wearing fragrance altogether and the result was that the woman in the graphics department was happy, and I was not. I was required to accommodate her, but what about me? I disagree with Ms. McBride’s attorney. I DO have the right to wear perfume just like she has the right to clean air. If the resolution is one-sided, then there is no resolution.

  226. At the rate we are going we won’t be able to do anything because it may bother a select few. No perfumes, no soaps, no detergent, no deodorant, no air freshner, chewing gum….How do you all wash your clothes, clean your homes, yourselves, go to restaurants, without triggering migraines or severe allergy attacks?

  227. Barbara,

    I don’t know where you got your information but when your throat closes, you are beginning to experience anaphylatic shock which IS caused by an allergic reation of some kind. I have experienced it for the past 30 years and must carry special medication for it.

  228. I am a US resident now residing in Canada. It was such a relief for me when I moved here and found that workplaces such as banks and hospitals require their environment to be scent free. For me, certain scents, trigger a sinus migraine and put me out of commission for 2 to 3 days. With workplaces in the US so stringent about missed work days due to illness, it seems that they should strive to make the working environments scent free to help reduce illness related leave. A persons right to work in a good environment and remain healthy should supercede any persons personal rights to wear things that impede another persons health.

  229. What took so long for business to see this as an issue? I have been getting sick from fragrance foir 30 years. Now there are companies making scent machines for businesses, some of the scents are ok, light but others are horrible, I became sick from it.. and of all places they are putting them in nursing homes…

  230. My sister is very allergic to pine. At Christmas, she alerted her boss. Her office was located on the second floor of a building with a bank on the first. She walked in the door, and the bank had decorated with pine boughs all the way up the stair case. She immediately went into an allergic response, including her eyes swelling shut and difficulty breathing. She was taken to the ER via Ambulance for treatment. This isn’t just someone being “whiney” or over sensitive, this problem is like feeding peanuts to someone with peanut allergies. You would NEVER knowingly do that, this is no different! If someone asks you to give up a scent, just ask them what scents they aren’t allergic to (if there are some) and see if you can compromise. Save your favorite scent for the weekend. And, by the by, I buy a spray of evergreen from the Boy Scouts each year, and just hang it OUTSIDE on my door. The fresh air dissipates the allergens, so my sister can enjoy a safe holiday, and I can get the fragrance if I linger by the spray. A win win and an example of how easy it is to compromise!!

  231. I used to wear (a little) perfume myself until about 10 years ago when a new co-worker who doused herself in a bottle a day of Obsession began working with me-she had poor hygiene and used the perfume to cover her shortcomings. Shortly after she started there I began having severe migraines every day only after she showed up at work (her shift began in the afternoon). To make things worse, her perfume stayed behind like an entity even after she left for the day. I complained to my manager who told me to deal with it myself. I got up the nerve to politely ask my co-worker who was offended, but stopped wearing Obsession, unfortunately she replaced it with another strong, migraine-triggering perfume. It was so frustrating, I complained again to my manager who did nothing…I suffered with almost daily migraines for years until I finally quit.

    I had no idea I could sue, I wish I had. No one understands my allergies to perfume, cologne and air fresheners/chemical smells. I don’t ask people to not wear perfume/cologne because I don’t like it, I truly get very sick with migraines. It’s refreshing to see that there are other people out there and that there is some understanding/empathy.

  232. I also have problems with any kind of strong scent. I can’t be around air freshners, scented candles, strong scents from flowers, smoke from candles/bonfires/burning leaves, etc. I have my worst reactions with perfumes and men’s cologne, Besides the headaches, vomiting, I also suffer from what the doctors call “reactive airway disease” which shuts off the air supply to my lungs. I’ve been hospitalized several times because of people coming into my office with cologne on. I’ve even had trouble with one particular co-worker who just doesn’t get it. I catch her the minute she walks in with hand cream, etc. and ask her to please wash it off. If not, I just have to leave work. I now carry an EpiPen wherever I go.

  233. There are certain chemical additives in some perfumes and colognes which trigger allergic reactions in me to the point where my throat closes up and I wheeze as if in an extreme asthma attack. It feels worse. I have to hold my breath and cover my nose to enter any of the major department stores and some I never enter because their employees “kindly” see fit to spray the stuff at me without my being able to stop them. ( Can’t talk when going thru there eother). Even holding my breath and covering my face leaves me with a sore throat and horrible headache. I have often wondered if I was the only person to suffer this allergy. Thanks for posting this! BTW inquiries of the stores led to no more than a shrug.

  234. I am three and a half months pregnant and normally I do not have a problem with fragrances until now. I am ultra sensitive to all smells now. I share an office with three other women where each of us have a cubical. Two of the women have air fragrances on their desk and they also where perfume each day. I have told both of the women that their perfume and fragrances are really bothering me to apoint where I am throwing up constantly. I also told them to not wear it anymore because if they were getting sick off of my fragrances I will be respectful and not wear it as well. They continued to wear their perfume which resulted in me moving my things to a conference room to get away from all smells. I confronted one of the ladies again asking her why wouldnt she respect the fact that I am pregnant and fumes are really making me sick. She responded by saying you never asked me to stop wearing it you told me. She was right I never asked her I demand her. I then asked her and she responded by saying I will be glad to stop wearing perfume I will even throw away the fragrance that is on my desk and she did. Lesson behind this story is If I had asked instead of demand my coworker to stop wearing perfume the problem would have been resovled a long time ago.

  235. In the workplace, there is no substitute for a no fragrance policy; this simply avoids all kinds of unhappiness on all sides.

  236. I am SO tired of people saying scents make them ill ! ! !

    I work with someone that claims to be scent sensitive and I’m now not allowed to wear my perfume. Mind you, it’s SO mild, only those RIGHT next to me can smell it. I do NOT pour it on. I spritz one spray, and it smells like baby powder, and my deorderant smells more than my perfume

    This co-worker is stationed more than 50 feet away from my desk, in her own office that has a door, which she refuses to close!

    Granted some people honestly are senstive to smells, but I think 50% of people making these claims are using it as a power play or to gain attention because their personalities need adjusting.

    • I might even go a bit higher than 50% which will ruin it for the people with serious issues.
      There is a lot of them on this site alone and they are making me second guess my original “meet you half way” thoughts on the topic. And the rude/nasty comments from most of them really isn’t helping.

  237. We have a woman here that douses herself in perfume. I can handle a little bit but oh my!!! She must bathe in the stuff and there are reasons why nothing can be said which I am not going to touch on. I don’t understand how someone can literally bathe in perfume and not realize it is stinking everyone out! I can smell her arrival! Once she has left the area the smell lingers for quite some time. I always ask if my perfume is too overbearing and is it offensive because I understand that the person wearing the perfume may not always smell it. You don’t need to hold the spray part down on the perfume bottle….2 spritzes should be all you need.

  238. People know when they are being offensive and look forward to someone standing up to them so they can have a target. But after a civil suit and dipping into that bank account that stupidity came right to an end. Yes it is an employer’s responsibility to make it comfortable for all employees to work but it’s not their jobs to consistently tell ignorant people to stop being ignorant. Take the smell good lotions and whatever HOME. You may like it but don’t assume its ok with everyone else. And for those bullies from high school who want to tease someone with a real problem who tries to control sweating. You still need to learn some manners. It’s a knife that cuts both ways, kinda like the 2pm bowel movement person. Its called unscented air cleaner, not potpourri fragranced stool, and it fits into your pocket for that discreet use and it’s called a complementary flush, so the rest of us don’t have to smell your dinner from last night. If you like that smell go home and closed the door tight and enjoy.

  239. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I have dealt with this problem since the mid-1970s. Any kind of fragrance causes me to have a violet asthma attack. I can’t breathe.

    This is as much a handicap as a broken arm or leg. There are places I cannot go; things that I can’t do because of the risk of encountering fragrance. Two of the worst places are public restrooms because of the air fresheners and elevators because I can’t control who gets on. I avoid both.

    This article is great, but doesn’t see the total outline of the problem. Fragrance is in almost all products and it’s cummulative. It’s on your skin from your morning shower, it’s on your clothes from the laundry detergent and fabric softeners; it’s in your cosmetics and deordorant; it’s in your hair spray. Every time you use a product that contains fragrance, you add a tiny bit more to all the rest you have used. You probably can’t smell yourself. I probably can smell you and react from across the room.

    In the past 30 years the problem has gotten better in some ways and worse in others. There is more awareness of the problems fragrance causes, but fragrance is in more products. Many people assume that if is from a “natural or organic” source, it will not cause a problem. Wrong! It doesn’t matter what the source is.

    For me fragrance, scent, or perfume, whatever you want to call it, can be life threatening. Perfume can cause life threatening problems, not just migraines and headaches, needs to be recognized.

  240. I am so glad to see this article!! I also suffer from allergic reactions to most scents. I have violent, immediate reactions, dry, red eyes, sneezing, coughing and vicious headaches that nauseate me for hours and usually require some allergy meds and a handful of ibuprofen to get rid of. I used to have hrrrible headaches years ago and never realized that the cologne I was wearing was the cause. I am also allergic to most animals even though I love them to pieces. I never understood this, but always respected other people’s requests, even though I sometimes doubted the sincerity of it. I am also a smoker who has been smoking for 43 years. I can smoke outside and it doesn’t seem to bother me too much, but I cannot stay in a room full of smoke without the same reactions as the scent and animals cause. If people would just wash their hands and rinse their mouth after smoking OUTSIDE, there would not be such a smell. I have been told by co-workers that they can’t smell any smoke when I return. This is a serious problem for many people and really does need to be addresses publicly so that others understand that we are not just whining. I do agree that it is better to attempt to reach an understanding with others before running to the “boss”.

  241. If this was cigarette, you’d surely have a few thousands of twits shouting all over, but since it concerns a woman’s stuff, don’t you dare say a word, you’ll be chastised!

    Pigs’ pee (perfume, so that woman don’t go “ewwww”) is very dangerous but since the pharmaceutical and esthetical corporations don’t really care about health, just about money (like the Ministry of Health actually!!!), you cannot do a thing. These perverts of the smell will continue to make us sick daily with their preferate pigs’ pee but since it’s not cigarette, you have to endure this!

    This is called JUSTICE! yep, we don’t have the same definition but this is the actual official one of these days: “If you don’t get money out of it, it’s illegal”. Thanks to the NAZIS in power worldwide at the moment. Don’t look for them in the Arctic, they’re right under your noses! Morons!

  242. are you kidding me.I’ll bet you let your armpit hair grow also.You are a flipping physco.Like Carson said the Lord tilted the map and all of the lose marbles slid to California.

  243. I am so happy to see this article. People truly do not understand chemical sensitivities. I too have had an anaphalactic response to perfumes – anyone who has had this knows you never want to go through that again – you may not survive it. I have had people come up and give me hug and the perfume/cologne would stay with me and I would start wheezing etc. I also remember years ago being at the hospital for a procedure and being asked when was the last time you used your inhaler – I replied a few minutes ago because the nurse had on a perfume that triggered a reaction. – Dr. not too happy and I believe even back then (15yrs ago) medical personal weren’t supposed to wear any scents. We are not the popular people when it comes to bringing this to the forefront – but neither were the people who go smoking out of the work place. We need to stick together!!!

  244. I, too, am someone whose migraines are triggered by perfumes and other scented products. And they cause my daughter to cough and gag. I am all about the no-fragrance-in-the-workplace policies. I had one older woman tell me “I like to be able to share the pleasant fragrance….” Are you kidding??? Pretty rude to assume you have the best taste in…anything! While many scents can be enjoyable (hers was not), my philosophy is that only 2 people should be able to smell you: you and the person nibbling on your ear!

  245. My husband is chemically sensitive to ALL artificial fragrances. A person drenched in perfume is living hell for him. Because the fragrance molecules are smaller than the blood brain barrier, it triggers his fight or flight response. He goes from a kind, mild-mannered, funny man to wracking sobs or total antagonism, angry or belligerent. It’s horrible for him, and for me, to be around him. Natural essential oils don’t trigger this. But we’ve walked out of our fair share of restaurants, offices, stores with perfumes, taxis, etc. We’ve even had to leave friends homes when they have scented candles, too much perfume, “stinky” clothes from main-stream detergents, etc. And forget hugging or even shaking hands with someone in greeting. It is a real problem. We typically dine in restaurants very early in the evening to avoid people as much as possible. Travel is non-existent now due to the closed environments of jets or ships. It is a very limited existence. Wish the general public would “wake up” and realize how this affects people. If you ever find yourself angry for no apparent reason, you probably are affected by fragrances too. Don’t be afraid to speak up and say something. You have rights too!

  246. Part of what I enjoy in life are fragrances of good perfume, candles, scented oils and incense. I wouldn’t go anywhere without hairspray or deordorant. So let me get this straight. I am suppose to give up part of what I enjoy in life because someone else in this world doesn’t like things that smell good. I don’t think so.

  247. Just as obnoxious are the people onboard planes buying perfume/cologne from the duty free cart, mid-flight, and decide to “try it on” while they’re sitting in their seats. The spray covers most of the cabin and you can’t escape it… anywhere … on the plane. I blame the airlines, they could hold the merchandise until the passengers are disembarking.

  248. As a teacher who suffers not only from migraines, but my environmental sensitivity to scents is particularly a problem being a school teacher. If I am sensitive to a scent, I loose my voice as my vocal cords swell tight. It wasn’t so tough to ask colleagues not to wear the scents, but with my 7th/8th grade students it can be a challenge. I have had students who protect my well-being by making sure everyone complys and then I have had other students who intentionally wear a scent that will cause me to cough, loose my voice and struggle to breathe. My inhaler helps some, but I am thankful my administration has supported me with these students. At school it can be a day-to-day battle.

  249. I love perfume and scented lotions, and I switch mine up, often wearing a different scent each day. This makes it where my nose does not get used to what I’m wearing, and I can tell if I have on too much. That doesn’t happen often b/c I use sparingly.
    If someone came to me and told me that my fragrance was bothering them physically, I’d respect them and not wear it around them. I have chemical sensitivites, too, but mostly to detergents and soaps, not actual perfumes that you only use a drop or two of.
    This is something people should be made aware of, but I disagree with making work places “fragrance free” unless there is an actual reason to do so, as in a pain clinic where people go to be treated for migraines, or where there is a known sufferer. Handling the situation one on one is the best way to garner respect, if it is actually handled respectfully. I can see why some folks would be drawn to childishness and retaliate if their rights were not respected, and the approach was wrong. And I can see how people might want to retaliate if someone goes to HR about it first instead of talking one on one. Those cases might just be an indicator of a bigger problem in those workplaces.

  250. RE: Deodorant – you don’t have to forgo deodorant. Try a natural crystal rock deodorant easily found in a natural or health food store. They last forever (it seems) and is actually less expensive in the long run. They are completely unscented and work very well. Also, they won’t stain the armpits of your shirts/blouses.

  251. I had a reaction to a managers fragrance severe enough for me to go to urgent care. Even though my manager witnessed this, and prior notification to HR about the situation was made, it wasn’t controlled until my doctor wrote a letter. I was so grateful when the offending manager moved to another part of the building as she would on occasion still wear her fragrance and I would have to leave work which cost me time. She even admitted that it took her a while to get used to the fragrance she was wearing. Although, after HR addressed the issue. she professed to being very sympathetic, her actions proved she hadn’t a clue what an impact she was having. Others further from her area also had issues, just not as severe.

  252. I, too, am allergic to fragrances. My throat constricts and burns. Carrying around a coffee pouch (the kind found in hotel rooms) and inhaling it will neutralize the smell somewhat. I would also lke to see the perfume counters in department stores moved from the entrances to the back of the store.

  253. I was living in Europe and nearly everyone there douses themselves in perfume to cover up their BO. While I like a nice perfume, imagine 40 people crammed into a metro car and all of them coated in their favorite scent. It can be overwhelming and I almost threw up several times. Once, I went to the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris and you have to literally wait in line to get a seat. I got there early and scored the most awesome seat in the place and was peacefully working when a wall of the muskiest patchouli perfume smacked me in the face. The guy next to me had no idea why I was gagging and almost vomited in the book I was using. I had to sit next to him, suffering and covering my nose with my turtleneck, for four hours until another seat opened up. It was miserable. And he had the nerve to be offended that I was covering up my face from his expensive cologne. I have never been so nauseated in my life.

  254. I think there are so many repertory conditions nowadays, that any cologne or perfume can trigger attacks. As someone with asthma, it is a struggle anywhere you go. The Taxi or elevator mentioned would have made me look like I was sick, when I really would need to cough to breathe at all.

    I think out of respect for others there should be limitations for any crowded area if possible. Hard to do when many people with hygiene issues us the sent to cover their problem or don’t realize they wear too much. My Mom used to bath in perfume, until I explained I just can’t be around her unless there is no perfume. She, as a mother, understood and was even nice enough to stop buying me perfume for gifts. Coworkers and others may take it personally without the knowledge of the big picture of problems they may cause.

    Pulmonary Fibrosis kills just as many women, men and children in a year as breast cancer, but no one talks about it.

  255. I work in a factory where body odor is more an issue than perfumes and colognes. Other people’s funk makes me more conscious of how I smell and so I make sure to come to work wearing a body spray of some kind. Guess I’m trying to passive agressively send a message. I find that fewer people are irritated by a body spray or powder than perfumes. Perhaps some of these people feel like me and are trying to give a hint to other coworkers (but are overdoing it). No one’s ever said my scent has been offensive in fact I’m the “chick that always smells good” LOL.

  256. It all come down to this. Let’s be human. We should care for our neighbors. If my actions or habits hurts my neighbor enough to put his/her life in jeopady, then I need to stop that action or habit. It’s just human to do so. Even gorrillas groom each other because they care (Who said we evolved from them…). Nobody fakes allergic reaction. I didn’t know what I had for years,coming to the USA from West Africa, having allergic reaction was a foreign concept to me, so I didn’t make the connection between my headaches, nausea and the scents around me. I am very considerate of my neighbors and would want the same in return. It’s just human. It shouldn’t take a lawsuit to get us to do what’s right.

  257. I used to work in a small office of 3 and the boss’ desk was next to mine, she was an older lady who I swore marinated herslef in this VERY STRONG perfume overnight. She would come in and the whole office smelled like it all day and after she had lunch she would add more. I was in misery everyday (headaches, swollen glands, sneezing) and didn’t know how to tell her that it was bothering me. I got up the guts to say something one day and she toned it down for a few days but it continued after that thankfully my position was downsized and I was out of there. But I really felt like I was out of line asking someone to not wear the perfume or tone it down drastically. I am gald there are others like me.

  258. Perfume, especially strong perfume, triggers migraines for me. I had to speak with management about a work colleague who insisted on wearing strong cologne, despite my having asked nicely for him to tone it down due to my migraine problems. He refused, management did nothing about it. Luckily the employee quit (he had a problem with stealing money apparently), but I still work in an environment where people don’t care about the fact that wearing strong fragrance causes migraines for others. I’m happy to hear someone has taken this seriously and sued. We don’t ask for migraines, just a bit of compassion.

  259. Very cool to see so many people post and respond to this article. Over recent years my asthma has worsened because of co-workers excessive use of perfumes and colognes. Other in the office had also complained of headaches and nausea. This past March I had a bad reaction to perfume at the office sending me to the ER. Recovery was a real struggle and I was out for 3 1/2 weeks. I was able to return to a now fragrance free office and a carbon air filter was purchased in the event that reps and consultants visiting the office where wearing cologne. It would really help business and sufferers if there where state laws in place! Thanks for bringing attention to this issue!

  260. I also get migraines tiggered by scents. I no longer go to movies or plays. Planes trips are scary for me because I don’t know if I will be seated next to someone with perfume or cologne on. Restaurants are also a gamble. Church is the worst because of all the older women who have lost their sense of smell and therefore use way too much perfume. Most people are understanding if I explain my problem but one woman was offended and believed that I was attacking her personally. I wish I could change my reaction to scents. It’s changed my life for the worse.

  261. I am so glad to finally see this issue being talked about. I have issues with fragrances, but many people act like they’ve never heard of such a thing! I get migraines, or sometime asthma attacks from people’s fragrances. Usually, if I can get just a little distance between me and the person wearing the scent, I’m okay, but often there is no getting away from it. Those plug-in air fresheners are the worst! I unplug them in places one would think they would know better than to use them in…such as doctor’s offices!!! Before I leave, I plug them back in; maybe one day they’ll figure out it’s probably making them sick! It’s no wonder so many children have asthma these days. A lot of teachers use the plug-ins in their classrooms. A young child wouldn’t be able to figure out if the fragrance was triggering a headache or asthma or nausea. They would only know that they felt sick, but wouldn’t know why.
    Thank you for writing this article! Now at least I am armed with something to “enlighten” and “educate” those who “have never heard of such a thing!”

  262. I worked in the days when CA allowed smoking in the work place. I went to the big bosses at the bank to no avail. NOW it is not allowed. I can get asthma from smoke, perfume etc. I can get migraines from perfume, cleaning products. I have walked in and out of stores because they just did their floors. I have moved away from the ladies of perfume at church.
    Then their are “cats” but that is another issue. How dare they allow animals on an airplane?????? Somebody write about the fact that millions of us are allergic.

  263. Tone it down!!

    I too get headaches and nausea from the overbearing perfume and cologne. Please be conscious of the effects that overdoing your daily dousing has upon others.

    Tone it down a few notches. The rest of us would appreciate it!!

  264. I am allergic to laytex, besides perfumes, scented candles, soaps, you name it now as it progresses. I can’t be around any of these, which I was told that if I am working with a co-worker that has something on I can’t stand I was told to let them know…..Well two of them. One of them would mock and made fun of at work because of my illness, so three day’s in arow these co-workers would wear perfume which it was in the letters given out to everyone on payday that they weren’t to wear anymore just not because of me but residents. anyway because of these three day’s I landed in the Hospital Emergency Room each day because of my throat swelling and it affected my vocal cords. after the third time I got called to be talked too because of this which the reaction came from using too much laytex at my job for over 30 years!!! I got left go for being a risk. people should realize what can happen to people with this and think someday it could happen to them, my last day when I was at work before I had to drive myself to the hospital hoping I was going to make it there, one of my co workers stood behind my supervisor laughing at me when it was getting to the point I couldn’t breathe. all in all I’m glad I don’t work in the place I’m not being mocked at anymore!!!

  265. I am also ‘scent’sitive to heavy perfumes and scents. Several years ago, I worked in a very small office with a woman who seemed to bathe in perfume. I finally couldn’t stand it anymore and asked her, politely, if she could wear less perfume as it was really bothering me. She glared at me, then stuck her tongue out, and walked away. Unfortunately, no HR office to report to back then.

    In my current job, I had a male intern who wore a heavy scent. Within a few days, I did let him know that I have allergies to heavy scents and I asked him if he could wear less. He was most apologetic and started wearing less of it, even asking me occasionally if it was toned down enough. That, I thought, was the proper way to react.

  266. For many years I have had this problem. I can’t go through the mall close to a candlestore or perfume store without getting a headache. I don’t wear perfume and have to be careful of shampoos and deodorants I use. Because of space issues at work I have always had to share my office with another. A new hire was placed in my office who wore obnoxious cologne. He didn’t do this all the time but eventually it really was bothering me. And I thought only women has problems spraying too much on. He said it was because of his medication made him sweat that prompted him to use cologne. There was times I literally got sick to my stomach. But my supervisor and other management made me out to be the culprit because I was complaining. Although it wasn’t said but they were afraid of him filing a lawsuit because he was black. Finally after almost a year he got himself fired because of his work ethics. Now I’m not afraid to tell them when something is really causing me problems.

  267. Even though I don’t have a job yet, I remember experiencing this at school. Often in the gym locker rooms or even in the hallways, girls would spray perfumes in all directions; at themselves, at friends, or even just to “freshen the air”. I coughed and waved at the air to get the perfume cloud to go away, and soon it gave me headaches.
    So I totally understand the importance of being able to breathe in the workplace, or in this case, school.

  268. I work in the medical field and I can’t tell you how many times that and administrator has come to the floor wreaking of perfume. Now I ask you, if you are sick enough to be in the hospital, would you want to smell Red Door every time the nurse manager came to check on you or merely walked by your room? There are certain work places that should have rules about perfume. Thankfully, hospitals are leading the way by making you sign a hygene document at the time of hire. The document has all the usual rules about hygene (short finger nails, hair up if it is longer than collar, etc) including a clause about perfume and the affect it has on sick patients (not to mention coworkers). Granted there are those few women that still insist on leaving a cloud where ever they go but a simple wave of the hand along with a grimace usually reminds them that perfume has no place at a work unless you work at say… Macy’s cosmetics department.
    My other issue is with coworkers who come to work wreaking of perfume and claim that “so and so likes it” (usually meaning their significant other). well they wont be seeing “so and so” till after work so what the point of offending your coworkers all day so your hubby can enjoy your scent at night when you come home? Put the perfume on in the car on the way home then, not before you come to work. Also, perfume wearers please remember that, what smells good to you may be offensive to someone else and saying “I don’t care” and going on about your smelly day, doesnt make you any friends at work.

  269. I’m glad to hear there are others out there like me. I work in an office of over 300 people. I too can get really sick from chemical sensitivities. Sometimes my lungs fill up with mucous right away and on multiple occasions turns into pneumonia because I can’t clear my lungs for weeks. I have complained multiple times to HR which is always compassionate, but they tell me since the company doesn’t have a policy concerning fragrances’ they cannot do anything. I have also been told that I am the only one they have ever received a complaint from. Most my coworkers have been very understanding, but for the last 6 months I’ve had to sit next to a couple people that just don’t care about others. They even knew about my problems before we ended up having to sit near each other. One of them insists they are doing me a favor, because I will build up immunity and get rid of my sensitivities.

  270. I am highly allergic to just about all scents and perfumes. there are very few that I can tolerate. I have a co-worker that comes in everyday smelling as if she had taken a bath in the stuff. I have made mention in her presence several times about how allergic I am to the stuff but she doesn’t take the hint. I guess I am going to have to be rude and just tell her. People need to realize just a little goes a long way! I am tired of living on benadryl and zyrtec. People should be considerate of others if they are asked to TONE IT DOWN!!!!!!

  271. Seriously – this is a warranted topic of a problem in the workplace. If one doesn’t have these sensitivities to these kinds of scents then they would never understand what some of us experience with having to smell someone elses nasty perfume/colognes. I am seriously allergic to a highly marketed, nationally selling nasty smelling perfume – White Diamonds!!! This is a scent mostly worn by old women but some younger women wear it in the workplace and the musk in it compromises my breathing which triggers migraines and I believe there should be a big-ass Warning label on it that reads:
    Warning – this scent has the ability to make old/young and both women/men throw up in their mouths as to try and conceal the nasty, musky, mothbal putrid smell that this scent emits upon spraying!

    For those that don’t believe that these nasty scents can harm others, I’m sorry that you can’t have compassion for your fellow co-workers.

  272. Some years back I worked with a woman who was significantly older than I was. I was about 27 and Joyce was about 50. Lovely woman, do not get me wrong but also remember these were the days when smoking was allowed in the workplace. The scent of her overpowering perfume and the stale smell of her cigarettes made her unbearable to have lunch with. Like I said, she was a lovely woman, but the only times I would eat lunch with her was if we ate outdoors..her stench was little more tolerable then.

  273. this article is talking about breathing and perfumes but what if you had to share a desk and 2 computers with another person and that person is always putting lotion on and too much of it or they’re hands are just greesy for what ever reason, do they have to stop putting on lotion or make sure they’re hands aren’t greesy when they come into work or there aint no law againt that?

  274. I have not read every post here but my problem is that I have trouble smelling a lot of things. Some perfumes/chemicals make me very ill, but some I can’t smell; the air is simply ‘thicker’ for me and I know there is ‘something’ in the air. Part of this is because of exposures when I was in the military. …Anyway, I apparently smell bad sometimes, or have stinky shoes, or halitosis, and people assume that if they clear their throats -loudly- I’ll get the hint. But doing that with someone who has trouble smelling things is like telling a deaf person they are making too much noise; you have to be -very- specific or we just won’t know. There is a huge social taboo associated with smelling bad but there seems to be an even bigger one attached to telling the person about it directly. Even physicians a loathe to do so; I did a bit of research and there is literature that discusses how you can’t tell patients because it mght send them into a depression. Heck, tell me gently, tell me with an anonymous note, but tell me. Meanwhile I shower everyday but I know I have sweaty feet so they get special attention. I also spritz on Prada cologne (hey, it’s might daily salute to designers).. because I liked it when I first sniffed it (can’t smell it anymore) and am hoping it helps.

  275. Thank you for addressing this issue. There is a new scent many women are wearing that makes me gag. It’s some sort of musk and it’s absolutely rank! I work in retail and need to be around people all day. Sometimes I have to leave the area where these women are shopping because of the stench. Whatever scent they are covering up can’t be worse than this stuff!

  276. This is a topic I have had a huge problem with. Allergies are unpredictable. Certain perfumes and fragrances can trigger a severe asthmatic reaction for me, yet other fragrances are fine. It’s less an issue of a coworker being allowed to wear perfume, than I have the right to breathe. Yes, I always carry a prescription inhaler, but a severe asthmatic reaction is exhausting and severely impedes my ability to function even after the medicine kicks in.
    How does one deal with the social issue of someone seated next to you in a public place, i.e. restaurant or airplane setting off one’s asthma? Planes are overbooked, and there is no empty seat to move to. And why should I be punished and sit next to the toilet because an inconsiderate traveler has chosen to wear a fragrance? Breathing is mandatory, perfume is optional.

  277. I think this is absolutely rediculous! If someone in your workplace is allergic or sensitive to something then you should STOP USING IT. How hard is that? How inconvenient is it for you to switch to a different scent or to use unscented products. I mean really… your co-workers are getting physically ill from it. How incredibly petty and small are you that you won’t comply with that sort of a request? You have got to be kidding me. Talk about self absorbed.

  278. The problem is there is no winning. If someone wears perfume, people will complain. Heck we can’t even get flowers because of peoples allergies. But yet the people who smoke can do it right outside the doors for you to walk through. Not to mention the elevators stink. Even if you are the only one on. But if everyone quits wearing deodarant, you can be sure people are going to complain about that too. We’ve become a world of chronic complainers. Nothing will ever satisfy us.

  279. I have experienced this problem too. I literally have to RUN through any department store’s perfume area or hold my breath and pray that I can make it through the area. My blessing is that only certain kinds of scents give me a migraine.

    I have worked with several employees who had a heavy hand when applying their scent for the day, and when I explained my situation to them, they either quit wearing that fragrance, or lightened it up considerably.

    I believe the first step is always to talk to the person in question about things before taking it to the next level (the boss). 9 times out of 10 you are going to resolve the issue, and not cause hostility in the workplace by doing so.

  280. Lisa is not the only one that has suffered at movies. I also get migraines from scents. I had paid $12.50 for a 3-D movie ticket and was one of the first ones in the theater. At the last minute as the movie started a lady came in with her husband and three kids and tried to fit the 5 of them in to three seats (arms lift up on these seats). She reeked of perfume and stated my eyes to water. I leaned over and told them that her perfume was too strong and to please find another seat especailly since they were packed in and there where plenty of seats lower down. Her husband snapped back that they did not like the kids to sit so close and it was 3-D and they were not moving. I went and got a manager and he could smell her three rows away before he got to them but he just told them they would have to move or split up to fit in the correct number of seats. So the perfumed lady moved right next to me and said “Well if my smell bothers you so much why dont you leave and let us have your seats?” The manager heard this and told her, the she could move down lower as not to offend the other patrens or they all could leave. One small victory.

  281. I work with a woman who not only smells like she bathed in cheap perfume but for some god forsaken reason thinks it’s acceptable to also spray herself down in thw womens bathroom with whatever air freshner they have at the time. Not only the men in the office but the women in the office have commented on it. I bought a fan to put at my desk to try to move the air and sometimes it seems to help but other times it’s just like trying to battle a forest fires with a garden hose. I think these people who do this have lost their sense of smell or just don’t care. It makes work absolutely horrible to have to sit there and smell the stink of someones cheap perfume or cologne.

  282. I have reactions to many airborne materials, e.g. perfumes, solvents, aftershave, incense, gasoline vapors, chlorine etc as well as alergies to particulate materials e.g. animal dander, mites, pollens, hay, etc. The worst ones are the perfuimes. Sometimes I have to leave church because of the perfumes that many women immerse themselves in before going to church. If they have body odor why don’t they take a bath. The worst perfume reaction I get are from Este Lauder perfumes. They have an ingrediant that is not present in any other perfume. One wiff drops me to my knees and leaves me gasping for air.

  283. I never knew there where so many people out there with this problem. I don’t get headaches or migraines though I wish I did. I am anaphylaxis to cleaners, scents, room scents, candles, list goes on. I get sick everytime I leave my house. My arms are covered with hive marks from getting them and scratching in my sleep. Most people look at me like I am stupid or laugh behind my back saying its all in my head. I will printing th is article.

  284. I work in HR for a company who, as a reasonable accommodation, went fragrance controlled. Nothing is completely scent free. I find it interesting that since your reaction only causes a sneezing fit, you find fragrance free absurd. I can’t help but wonder if your reaction were more severe, like our ADA-protected employee who could have an asthma attack severe enough to cause death, if you would find it less absurd. If the company you worked for made a reasoable accommodation for you and went fragrance free to protect your right tobreathe and live, would it still be absurd? This isn’t aimed at you personally but all those people who if they can’t feel it, see it or experience it themselves, then it must be nonsense. Get over yourselves and learn a little empathy.

  285. I used to be a secretary in an elementary school and suffered from chemical sensitivity; I don’t know what the difference is because it was just like an allergic reaction but that’s what my allergist called it. Anyway, my boss wore this super strong perfume and I was a mess so my office manager told her that I was allergic to scents of any kind and she said ” I’m not going to quit wearing it”! Hmmmm. I continued to have a sinus infection at least once a month and finally bought my own air cleaner, which was rather pricey. It helped some but I also put up a sign by my computer that “this is a scent-free zone”. Some people would honor this while my boss and others would not. I didn’t take the issue to the superintendent, but sure wish people would be more compassionate to those with sensitivities to scents. Even family members forget or refuse to wear scent-free deoderants, etc. I guess this is my “cross to bear” so will do so.
    I did take an early retirement and do feel so much better getting away from the perfume, industrial cleaners, flowers, etc. but miss my co-workers (some) and the kids.
    I ask that people who read this will think about this seriously and will have more compassion to those of us with this problem.

  286. Everybody has different sensitivities. Some people don’t like it when somebody else is hanging over their shoulders, or when somebody looks to be in a different “class”, or even when someone doesn’t hang around with everybody else and is more or less a “loner”. But those are just personality sensitivities (if you want to call them that). Physical sensitivities can put people in the hospital, and if the reaction is strong enough, kill them. I myself didn’t know about how bad I was. I used to love it when women would approach me and tell me how much they liked my cologne. And on the other hand, I would approach a woman when her perfume smelled great with her.

    Most of us grew out of this when we get married and have children. It’s no longer about the me, as it is about the (ex)wife and children. That’s when you realize that everything you do affects somebody else that you care for. And then your realization expands from there.

    My sister had always had allergies, but then started working in an office environment. Since then her allergies have increased 100 fold. Within the last two years she has been sent home numerous times, sent to medical department, and sent to the ER at least three times. Yes, she may be an extremely sensitive person to many chemicals, whether natural or man-made, but the people that work with her don’t seem to care whether they kill her or not. Not only have they been in the office when she was sent to the ER, but even the very next day continued to wear the same amount of perfume or cologne that they had been wearing the day before. And this includes her manager. And yes, for that arrogant individual who stated why don’t you talk to us instead of going to management, it had been done many times. And what’s worse, HR doesn’t even help, her whole department has been talked to about this and each and every morning her manager comes in, says hello, and then says, ‘ oh I forgot again…’.

    After reading the 97 comments that I’ve read in this article. I’m going to call her right now and tell her to get a personal injury lawyer and a workers comp lawyer and have them sue one of the largest insurance companies in the world. Not only have they neglected to fix the problem, but they are doing absolutely nothing about it. Well maybe they are, they are making her spend thousands of out-of-pocket dollars for medicine and breathing machines and ER visits. They won’t let her work from home even though she has gotten rave reviews ever since she has been there for over 10 years.

    I am at the point right now where I am willing to support her as much as I can in order for her to quit and sue them. At least if she quits, she’ll be able to control her surroundings and not go to the ER, or have breathing problems, or medicine expenses. (I’m not sure if any of you have noticed, but I haven’t mentioned anything about headaches (migraines). Headaches (or a rash) are usually the first sign that you’re allergic to something. So needless to say, yes she gets them, and as soon as she gets one she tries to let the person know that she’s allergic to whatever it is they are wearing or what plant is on their desk, what fruit they are eating, or what they are doing.)

    And for the person that asked is there a resolution to this problem? Probably not within our lifetimes.

  287. I, too have problems with chemical air fresheners and perfume. I have discovered that starting conversations around offending persons about all the chemicals used in them and the side effects of those chemicals helps make them think twice before bathing in it. I also mention all those wonderful essential oils perfums and colones out there that are ecco friendly (and don’t set off allergies and migrains). Since these people are all about themselves, the only way to convince them to help you is to make it all about them.

  288. I worked for a major corporation in Houston and I worked with many people from countries that do not put much stock in taking a bath. One of our engineers took a bath about once every two weeks. At times, I had to work closely with this individual and I want you to know that his “stank” would curl the hair in your nose. I’ll take the eau de perfume anyday over the BO.

  289. I worked at a big company where I sat next to a co-worker who always smelled great, wore great perfumes (never overwhelming), used fragrant and pleasant hand lotions, and even had scented candles – again, in a moderate fashion making it very pleasant and not overwhelming. Whenever she wasn’t in the office, a floater secretary had to fill in for her. One of the floater secretaries had allergic reactions to scented products. Previously, this same floater had sat in for my co-worker and had to go home ill because of ONE scented candle that was on her desk. Even after we removed the candle, the floater said she could still smell the lingering scent and it still made her ill. Although weird, we felt bad for her and can understand the situation…

    BUT, turns out she was BEYOND hyper-sensitive to scents, to the point of being scary. Although I understand the issues and can be sympathetic and empathetic to those who suffer from these allergies, sometimes it can be in the mind of the supposed “sufferer.” Why? Here’s an example:

    This same co-worker of mine was going on a short vacation. The hyper-sensitive/allergic floater was scheduled to sit in for her again. Knowing this, my co-worker took all precautions and removed any and all scented products she had on and around her desk, and made sure to painstakingly clean EVERYthing with a non-scented cleanser. When the floater secretary came in the next day, before even doing an OUNCE of work, she MANIACALLY re-cleaned the entire area, disinfecting everything, taking ANYthing that MAY have had a scent (nothing did) over to a separate room and looked pretty ridiculous doing so. After about an hour and a half, she finally sat down. Unfortunately, my regular co-worker had a habit of locking one side of her desk drawers. Why, God, WHY? So…

    This floater (considering what a previous poster said about certain individuals just wanting to exercise control over having a legitimate issue) went STIR-CRAZY because SHE thought that there were still scented candles in the locked desk drawers and that she could STILL smell them. She ACTUALLY went around sniffing the ENTIRE work area – LITERALLY sticking her nose in closets, cabinets, credenzas, files, drawers, etc. – purposefully LOOKING for where there might be a scent. By her own admision, no scent was present ANYwhere. But, she SWORE that there was a scent was coming from those locked drawers and that it was making her sick. She ended up having a severe headache, she was dizzy and even developed visible HIVES on her neck and face that she couldnt help scratching. She was unable to work and GUESS who had to do all of HER work as well was his own: yup, me!

    Although we all found her very strange (and, honestly, somewhat ridiculous), again we felt bad since we saw her suffering, and surmised that the candles must have been there. The floater contacted HR to try to get them to agree to have someone force the locked desk drawers open. When they informed her that it would prove to be too much of a liability to do so, she became INFURIATED. She insisted she was sick and had to leave the area, and HR had to change their whole substitute secretary schedule for HER and had to re-assign her to another desk, and I was stuck with double the work of supporintg my four managers PLUS my co-worker’s four managers. In this instance, we learned just how powerful a mind can be. Why?…

    Well, when my reg. co-worker came back, I immediately informed her of the “situation,” and she, in front of all of us there, unlocked and opened those desk drawers and BEHOLD…….there were NO candles of ANY sort, nor ANY fragrant product of ANY kind in the drawers, just regular office supplies. Turns out, she NEVER kept ANY of those types of scented products in those drawers, but in the cabinet behind her – the very same cabinet the floater secretary literally stuck her nose in to smell only to find that it was totally clean and scent-free! My co-worker had, actually, taken those products home with her in addition to cleaning everything before leaving. But, the sensitive floater SWORE there was someting there that was making her sick. There wasn’t. And, she affected so many people and caused so much extra work and accommodation when she wasn’t truly affected. She was just….well, maniacal. All in her mind! Later, in speaking with other co-workers in other areas where this floater has sat, I learned they went through similar experiences with her where there was nothing to legitimately set off her allergies.

    Therefore, although I read and appreciated this article, can understand others’ sensitiivity to perfumed products, and do believe people who use such products should use them sparingly, THIS is still the type of experience I have ALWAYS had with people who have a hyper-sensitivity to scents: They tend to be strange, hyper-sensitive people who just love to complain and make drama. And THAT is highly frustrating for the rest of us, too! In addition, it messes it up for the people who actually DO have a legitimate medical issue as opposed to just being plain ol’ CRAZY!

  290. Jay,
    Coming from someone who gets Migraines, nauseated, etc from colognes, certain soaps, lotions, etc, I’d rather smell your BO. That is one smell my nose and sinuses will tolerate.

  291. Amen, to some common sense. Why oh why can’t we discuss this nicely with the offenders? Only involve HR when you can’t get the person to comprimise.

  292. YOU DON’T NEED ANY PERFUME, EVER, FOR YOUR BODY OR HOME, You can-not cover one odor with another, Normand the Inventor & Exterminator, HOW CAN I HELP, Let me know.

  293. As the creator of scented products I have been amazed at the reactions of certain people who claim they have issues with scent. I am a very compassionate person by nature and am respectful to others as a norm. What I don’t agree with is having my rights infringed upon and the hateful reactions people have had if they do detect fragrance on me.
    If someone suffers from allergies or headaches to the degree that it is dibilitating then I feel that they should consider a different environment to work in. It sounds cold hearted but it is rediculious to demand the world to conform to your needs-that is an impossible task.

  294. A Wells Fargo office branch was not so kind concerning my allergy that had my eyes burning and nose itching, twitching and bleeding from a male co-workers daily douse of the ‘gift’ from his wife. I was 53, and returned to over the road trucking where I didn’t have to be around people making me sick. I was in a serious truck wreck that smashed my spine and barely escaped paralysis. Now I’m 60, disabled and the allergy escalated to the point where I make my own detergent, don’t use fabric softener, and can’t use hair spray myself. A friends son comes to the house so wreaking that three rooms away the smell hits me and he just doesn’t seem to ‘get it’ that his over dose makes some people sick. Worse yet, a surgical nurse was drenched with it as I went into surgery. Glad things worked out for some of you people, but it didn’t work out very well for me at all.

  295. This is why Nature has the strong survive written all over it. To many weak sickly people any more we need to let natural selection take over to build a stronger world. weak and sniffling need not apply. WTF is a plumber going to do? he has to deal with real smells lol perfume my ass get over it or stay home. do not make me comply because your sickly.

  296. Here’s how judge whether your perfume is scenty or killing bugs and people. If you can smell a person’s perfume before they walk into a room, it’s too much. Perfume should be detected within 20 inches. It’s for close quarters and not used as a bug shield to mask skunk.

  297. THANK YOU for shedding light on this issue. I am very very sensitive to all types of scents and toxins in the air. I also cannot enter a department store that has the perfume counter right at the front of the store. My local Macy’s is one of those. You would think large companies would get the fact that environmental pollution that they are promoting is keeping some of their customers out. There is a reason cigarette smoking in public areas has been banned in so many places. It makes people sick. So does perfume and many other sources of airborne toxins.

  298. I hope that you read the other comments. Talk to your doctor about this. If you understoo it wasn’t just that someone else in this world doesn’t like things that smell good but was debilitating to some people you might have some empathy for them. Discard your ” I don’t think so” attitude.

  299. I have a self-employed sister–a CPA who specializes in corporate taxes–who hired one employee. She rented space in a rather large office building in which the neighboring businesses complained to her about the cigarette smoke that was afflicting them, from her, through the air conditioning system. She eventually switched to cigars. Was it a mere coincidence that she stopped smoking after the I.R.S. moved to a different location on the other side of Grand Rapids?

  300. I had to quit a job once where this overbearing jerk I worked next to (whose scent was even more unbearing) refused to tone down his nasty cologne.

    Management basically told me to eat it and refused to move me. I threw up all over my desk one day and they sent ME home without pay because they insisted I had a flu and had used all of my vacation/sick pay for the year.

    I up and quit one day without notice because I could tolerate it no more. I didn’t like the job anyway. I filed for unemployment compensation and won because of the fact that they refused to help me. I hope it taught this employer a huge lesson that you don’t mess with stuff like this.

  301. I am glad to have read this article and to know that I am not alone and crazy as some would have me think. I am a migraine sufferer and the workplace has been musical chairs for me, moving around colognes instead of addressing the issue; even with a doctor’s letter. I hope a ban on colognes and chemical agents will be in the near future.

  302. Michael, if your truly are a business owner, I must assume it’s a very small business. The ADA is a federal protection for employees–yes, even for your unfortunate employees. For anyone out there currently working for Michael, know your rights. This person with this attitude is looking to be sued by one or all of you.

  303. There are two sides to this. First off, your right, some people wear way to much perfume or cologne. This is an issue and can be fixed with either a smaller amount or a change in fragrence. If certain scents make someone suffer this should be brought to a manager or supervisor and that will hopefully (not certainly) solve the issue. The other side of this is people who don’t wear something to cover their “natural scent” can also be very offensive. I have worked in close quarters with people that, without help, can be very offensive. Some people know this therefore using something to help fix the problem. I am not saying that this as always the case, but be aware that this is a possibility.

  304. I also have chemical sensitivity. I have had to leave several positions due to perfume and other scents making it impossible for me to do my job. It is not fair that I cannot work in various workplaces due to these scents when others could be more considerate and go scent free. Perfumes are not part of a dress code at work and should be worn during non-working hours. Many people are coming down with chemical sensitivity and it is time to mandate a no-scent policy in all workplaces.
    I had a wonderful government job that lasted six weeks. I became so overwhelmed by all the perfume and scents that I asked HR to mandate a fragrance free policy. They did mandate the policy, however, the coworkers wouldn’t abide by it, they retaliated and just wanted me to leave which I had no choice but to leave as I couldn’t breathe and do my job. Chemical Sensitivity is on the American with Disabilitys Act! HR did nothing when I complained, they said they needed names of the offending coworkers, I gave them names and they still did nothing…a law needs to be passed!

  305. I work with people who my company brings over from India. Let’s just say that perfume is not the problem. The stench of body odor and curry is enough to make your eyes water – and in the mens room it’s enough to make you vomit. OMG. And the rest of you are complaining about perfume. Geez.

  306. If you have a problem with strong odors, please use an activated charcoal mask. One mask is good for about a week. While using this at work is not very fashionable, but it should help to stop you from suffering the symptoms. Maybe there is a market for that. also a desk filter blowing filtered air towards you in da cube. they are inexpensive and will help. remember to get the one”s with activated charcoal. While people should be considerate of others…… our times are such that the one’s that are doing what they do are just attention hounds. And want to be the center of comments about anything even stench.

  307. I am so glad to see others with the same problem. Scents drive me right up the wall. I have the same problem with fresh cut grass and wild onions. It feels like my whole head closes up and I lose my voice, then the headache starts.

    I worked at a kisok in a mall where one store next to me would spray a can of
    air freshner at 10am and 4pm. At times I would have to leave the mall in order to breath. I complained to mall management, but they wouldn’t do anything to stop it. And the store owner actually threatened me. But I was the one getting sick everyday and had to deal with the headachs.

  308. I am a sufferer of migraines triggered by strong smelling perfumes/colognes, it is very frustrating. Another area that I have issue with (I have had strong smelling coworkers) is airplanes. Before I get on an airplane, I hope and pray that there won’t be a strong smelling perfume or cologned person next to me. Airplanes air ventilation systems are so bad. I have suffered migraines from that situation also. People flying, please think of the small quarters you will be in for the next few hours and go easy on the perfume/cologne!!

  309. I have allergy induced asthma, therefore most perfumes and colognes and some pollens shut my lungs down and it feels like I have my hand over my nose and mouth… not much fun. I love working in my home office.

  310. not always the case…..many times people take offense that you;re having a health problem with scents,and perfumes. I would love to ax AXE body everything. It’s the worse chemical crap I’ve ever had to inhale. This is a very personal thing for the person smelling the stinks, and the person having to accommodate the person with the sickness. Many times it become a personal work place battle between employees,and can become very ugly.. Smoking outside the door is a big issue and just as bad also….perfume smelling is just like inhaling second hand smoke as far as I’m concerned…Sorry this has become a world of rules, and Freedom is not Free any more!

  311. John Meurer; you can’t believe the ‘whiners’? Well we can’t believe the level of uncaring people who refuse to stop wearing their perfumes no matter how much suffering it causes other people. Telling them and/or HR doesn’t always help either. We find that hard to believe. But it happens to have been our experience.

  312. I can’t tell you how happy I was to stumble upon this article.
    I am constantly complaining about people bathing in their fragrance. It’s everywhere. It make it difficult to work especially when you have multiple people wearing fragrance. It effects me all day, even to the point that I can’t sleep at night because I have such a bad headache. It’s at the grocery store, the bank, even at the places you go to eat. If it’s not someone sitting by you, then it’s the server.

    It’s an assault on our senses people! It goes beyond us not liking the scent. We are allergic to it. People don’t seem to understand this type of allergy.

    There are tons of folks out there allergic to peanuts. There are warnings everywhere. Precautions everywhere. People understand and are sympathetic to it. But when it comes to fragrance and smoke, which I happen to be extremely allergic to both, people don’t get it.

    I actually had someone to tell me to get over it. Hmmmm? Would you have given the same advice to some of those folks who have passed away from peanut and other food allergies? I think not. I find people’s lack of consideration of their fragrance and smoke offensive. People, please be more considerate of the people around you. I’ll be the first to say ” Thank you!”

  313. Just reading some of the above responses tells the populous that wearing strong colones,after shave etc. is not acceptable. Not during the day and not at a restaurant when someone, like myself, would rather taste the food not the perfumethe person at the next table is wearing. My husband wears an after shave (Grey Flannel) and it gives me a headache and nausea. He thinks I’m nuts, he uses it in memory of his father who passed in 1992. I guess that smell might have been in vogue back in the day but today it’s just offensive.

  314. Some just want to smell like cheap teen sluts! i love it, but do not ever let on they do, or they will get you fired in a NY second!!! and some R just cheap sluts.

  315. I found this to be a very good article dealing with perfume products….My issues is so bad that I am basicily a prisoner in my own home…I am unable to go to church, group gatherings,I have no social life people who have fragrance on.. cooking odors, the fabric fragrances for fabric softer blowing through the air gets into my home…and the list goes on…I have what is called Multiply Chemical Sensitive and there are 50 million in the USA that suffer from it and millions that have it and don’t even know what is wrong with them and it causes other health issues..I have what is called an invisible illness…I don’t look sick but I am…the air out there isn’t safe for me to breath. Check it out just type in Multiple Chemical Sensitive…dr.’s don’t recongnise it for what it dr. told me I was having panic attacks…wrong..he finally said sever allergies to fragrances and that doesn’t even begin to cover it

  316. You seem to think that talking to a person will help. Obviously you have never tried it. I knew a person that wore 3 perfumes at one time. She was in my car one day and I asked her not to spray it in my car as it caused me headaches. When I got out of the car for a moment she sprayed her perfume in my vents. I was sick for days after that. She was asked by several people to tone it down several times. It is not that she smelled bad, it just made everyone sick. She was clueless. If I saw her in the morning I was in bed and sick the rest of the day. It was so bad that if she was a mile or so in front of you in her car you could tell. I don’t know who finally got through to her but she finally quit wearing all that perfume and is quite pleasant to be around now.

  317. I have the same problem in the town that I live i it seems to me like if people wasnt too lazy to take a bath they wouldnt have a need to wear cologn or perfume to cover up their body stinch so people instead of taking a bath in something that is supposed to smell good please take a good bath instead

  318. I find it funny that the photo is of a woman. When I worked at a YMCA I could have sworn that the men’s shower was spraying cologne. MANY of the men would come from the showers DRENCHED in cologne, which immediately gave me a headache. Of course it is very much an issue with both sexes.
    Usually the cologne or perfume in question is cheap, it’s kind of like a cheap wine. Some cheap wines give me headaches, cheap scents do the same.

    Also… I was at a restaurant once and went to the restroom and washed my hands with a soap that was so pungent that I could not taste my food, which was a sandwich and I had to use my hands. I tried to get rid of the scent, but it would not go away until I took a bath (not at the restaurant.. ha ha).
    This is a hard issue, because hygiene is important and a very personal choice. Saying a person who has allergies should either find another job or deal with it, is unfair to them.
    Cheap colognes and scents are toxic, and our world is getting more and more toxic. Let us not have toxic attitudes towards each other. Kindness, compassion and understanding is what is needed.

  319. I don’t work in an office, but someone comes in at the end of my shift and I can smell her clear across the football field size floor the moment she walks in the door. A small headache does start, but I get to go home because my shift is over, so no need to complain really.

    I also used to have a friend who would break into sneezing fits every time the school floors were cleaned and the chemical smell was in the air. She also did this with anything that was a strong perfume or cologne, smoke was a really bad one. I would consider it very hard to fake a 10 to 20 minute sneezing fit.

    Perfume and scents are all chemicals in the air that trigger the receptors in our noses. The receptors in your nose then trigger receptors in the brain. If you can smell it, it can physically affect you if you are sensitive.

    So it would be wonderful if the rest of the human population understood that others are DIFFERENT than them. And to please don’t drench yourself in your scent. You only need a light spritz on the wrists and/or neck. And don’t spritz it an inch from the skin, try 5 or 6 inches away. A person should only be able to smell you if they are giving you a hug.

    If you have a strong body odor alone, try using something that is scent free and wash more regularly.

  320. I am an asthmatic and I have allergies to everything that floats in the air. Prefumes, airfresheners, incense, Orange Clean, potpourri, all that smelly stuff. Several years ago I worked in an office with two other women who liked to wear a lot of perfume. The supervisor of the two also felt the room didn’t smell very good and would spray half a can of air freshener. I ended up going to the hospital for anaphylactic shock the first time she did that. She thought I was faking the wheezing, watering eyes and red swelling skin. Finally I got a note from my doctor and he gave me some information about anaphylactic shock which I gave to her. Her college educated daughter and another co-worker confirmed what the info said and she stopped spraying the air freshener. She and the other employee continued to wear more perfume to compensate for the “room odor”. I couldn’t get them to understand it was THEM causing it with clashing scents. I would go home reeking of their perfume and would have to bathe after work to get it off of me. I would have to put my dirty work clothes in a plastic bag until I was ready to wash them. It got so bad I resorted to wearing a mask in the office after I asked them to cut back on the perfume. Maybe they didn’t hear me because my voice would go out when I was exposed. I got fed up one day when I came in and they were marinating themselves in the office. I threatened to go home and not come back until they stopped wearing it altogether. That started a big incident and I was called into the director’s office where he proceded to tell me he thought I was just causing trouble but he would maker them stop. The one girl ended getting fired for poor attndance and work shortly after but the supervisor stubbornly kept wearing her perfume. I wore a mask until the day I quit and got another job. The supervisor wanted to give me a hug that day and she had on more perfume than ever. I declined and let her know how lucky she was to still be in her job and that if I had wanted to I could have brought the ACLU down on her head for the way she was trampling my civil liberties with the harassment to join her church and the treatment I recieved when I refused to attned one of her services. Shortly after that the company installed these sprayers in the bathrooms that would spray air freshener at timed intervals. This was one job I was glad to leave. I haven’t had another job where the people were so unreasonableand hostile. The job didn’t pay enough to bring legal action. A few years later I ran into the supervisor. Lo and behold! She wasn’t wearing ANY perfume. She asked me if I was still allergic to perfume. I told her yes, to stay away from me and walked away.

  321. Thank you Cindy–the voice if reason! If you are making your coworkers ill, just stop. It’s that simple. Quit being so self absorbed. It is amazing how many people just don’t get that.

  322. I agree with Ms McBride. I to have suffered with migraines because of co-

    workers. I complained to my boss and an e-mail was sent out to everyone

    regarding wearing perfumes and the situation was taken care of.

  323. It seems inappopriate, for you to have to leave work. Have you tried to suggest disinfecting wipes as opposed to sprays. Also, if her immune system doesnt function properlyit would seem she would know one of the best things she could do for herself is to wear a mask. By employing these two simple compromises, you could both be happy and unoffending.

  324. People use the word chemical as though it were a dirty word; thanks to the ever declining quality of American education, the infusion of religion and politics,and the myths and ignorance that have grown out of pseudoscience. You cannot live without chemicals. The epi pen has a chemical in it called epinephrine. You need life sustaining chemicals to live everyday- They are called oxygen and water. Water is a pure chemical. Natural substances can kill you-strychnine, arsenic, lead, etc. These are all natural and deadly.

    I chuckle at the person who suggests that her nose is sensitive to “cheap” perfume, obviously her allergies are high class. Expensive perfumes have more chemicals than any other since they are a combination of nature’s oils and plant parts such as the pistil and buds. As a matter of fact, some of the older more expensive perfumes use chemicals such as antioxidants, chemicals are added to reduce or eliminate the alllergenicity or irritation due to these more expensive scents. By the way, expensive perfumes also may contain the extract of odoriferous sacs such as civet, musk, sperm whales. Cheap perfume has a high concentration of alcohol and actually contain far fewer chemicals and substances that contribute to the high cost of expensive perfumes.

    I am not disputing the reaction that some people may have to scent. Certainly, some individuals overdose and substitute cologne for good hygiene. Cologne again would contain less of the chemical substances that make expensive perfumes so potent and long lasting. People jump on the band wagon and make statements that are not grounded in fact. People are also highly suggestible. Essential oils are naturally occurring chemicals that are very irritating when applied directly to the skin and come with a warning to dilute them

    I wholeheartedly agree with this author who suggests that we have become so germaphobic which is unhealthy by the way, and because we are on this naturaL kick, everything has been taken out of proportion. All of a sudden people are allergic to the world. If you are exposed early in life to dirt, pets, and normal living; scientific studies (not anecdotes or stories from my personal life that are falsely equated with real proof and evidence) show that you are far less likely to have allergies and all these problems. The placebo effect is rampant in this blog. You can suggest to someone or if you believe you are sensitive, you can actually have a serious allergic reaction. I do not believe in using unnecessary harmful chemicals or even natural substances when there are biodegradable harmless chemicals available. But, I do not believe all these stories or preludes to lawsuits. Unfortunately, this affects people who are really injured by real harm and negligence and makes all people who sue seem suspect.

    Sorry to go on so long, but there are so many myths, lack of real science, power of suggestion, and false information here that I am really concerned as one blogger put it-we won’t be able to brush our teeth or eat due to one individual’s semsitivity.

    I don’t how some of you live in the world. You have paint on your walls, clothing treated with chemicals, furniture treated with chemicals, and even thunderstorms have the smell of ozone and yet you single out workplace odors. I guess you can’t sue yourselves. Try slowly desensitizing yourselves as a treatment. It would be a lot easier than trying to change the entire world to suit your specific needs.

  325. The sorst offenders are airline stewards and stewardesses – you are trapped on the plane, I’ve seriously considered suing southwest airlines – they are the worst!

  326. I’m sensitive to perfumes, detergents, chemicals, room “deoderizers”, etc. In the past I have made a request to a supervisor to not be near a person who wore too much perfume because I would sneeze, get a runny nose, and have a reaction to their scent. The one thing that really bothers me is when people slather/spray their scent over their whole body, and then, when they give you a hug (from a friend or relative) it spreads the scent to my clothing, hair, and skin and I’m stuck smelling like someone else all day long. People need to learn to apply their perfumes and scents to areas of their body that will not transfer to others.

  327. The problem with Karls comment is ignorance and personal opinion. While Karl is entitled to his own opinion, federal law (it’s called the ADA Karl) trumps personal opinion every time. There is no state or federal right to wear fragances. There is, however, a federal right to breathe included in the Americans with Disability Act.

  328. My goodness if you are that allergic to any type of fragrance shouldn’t you get some kind of shot? Toning down the amount of product you use is considerate but asking someone to not where something because you have a reaction to it seems crazy. Go to the Dr. and get some kind of allergy shot or maybe find another job with sensitive employees.

  329. Wow. This is incredible. One person’s inability to work with others creates a situation where an ENTIRE building has to change their hygiene routine (that is done at home, I might add). What a bunch of losers. I have a sensitive nose and prefer to not smell artificial fragrances but seriously, if you have a problem then quit. That’s the reality. One person doesn’t get to dictate the habits of the rest of the building. What a culture we’ve become. It’s annoying that people can’t accept that if they have a problem, THEY are the one with the problem. Not everyone else.

  330. The American Lung Association and the City of Toronto has published research on the decline of the perfume industry’s standards in perfume production. Back in the day, perfumes used to be organic compounds. To make more money, they began creating artificial smells. This was accomplished by using VOCs and products made from petroleum by-products to create scents. The number or respiratory illnesses in the US have excalated exponentially since then. The City of Toronto banned fragrances in public buildings and the number of work days missed due to repiratory illnesses dropped significantly. Whether you have a notable allergic reaction or not, breathing chemical fumes is damaging to your respiratory system. When you’re 60 and being treated for lung cancer, having never smoked in your life, it will be too late to do anything about your ignorance. Whether it “smells good” or not, chemical fumes are chemical fumes. They are toxic.

  331. I have allergies triggered by heavy musk scents, but it’s my problem, not my co-workers’. Since when is the responsibility of those around us to ensure that we don’t get sick or become affected by allergy triggers (which are all around us)? If someone has such severe reactions to scents in the work place then they must also be affected by scents wherever they go. In my opinion, if their reactions are so severe as to prevent them from working then they should wear a filtration mask. It is up to that person to ensure their own good health. How do these people function everyday? There are scents everywhere. Wake up people. See a specialist, take meds, wear a mask—deal with your issues instead of expecting everyone else to kowtow to your needs. Until these problems are recognized as a disability you should be granted no more rights than your co-workers who have the right to wear scents.

  332. I have been employed with a company for almost 4 years now. Its a small law firm of about 16 persons. For approximately three years an employee’s overbearing fragrance, which caused my sinuses to bleed to the point where it settled on my chest causing severe pains. I now have a bronchial condition which my doctors are assuming will develop shortly into adult-stage asthma. For the three plus years I complained to my boss as well as the office manager and was told that the situation would have been addressed. I even asked the employee herself to stop wearing the fragrance and she told me to “tell it to someone who cares”. The office manager later told me that she cannot ask the employee to stop wearing the fragrance. I suffered both physically and financially, and this was obvious to the entire office. I could not leave the job so I had to suffer until one day the same employee returned from vacation and said to me she was sorry and stopped wearing the perfume. Unfortunately this happened in a country that is not very litigious and not many protection for workers in this area. My calls to the local labour ministry confirmed my suspicions, if I needed a breath of fresh air, I would have had to change my job!

  333. I never really had a problem with scent until I was in university. I went into an exam with about 300 other people. Right before the test was to start, a girl came in late and sat in front of me. I was immediately overwhelmed by the scent she was wearing. About half an hour into the exam I started to get a headache, and shortly after that my entire body started to break out in hives. I ended up writing the rest of the exam in point form and went to the university medical clinic after the exam. The doctor figured my allergic reaction to whatever she was wearing was heightened by the stress of the test.

    I think that part of the problem is that there are so many people out there who don’t understand that just because they put perfume on in the morning, and they can’t smell it anymore, doesn’t mean it’s not there for anyone else – thus they reapply…. the thing that really appalls me is the people who still wear perfume in places that post signs requesting no scents.

    Christina – you need a new husband. Drag him to the doctor with you next time, or find some allergy that he has (a mild food allergy perhaps) and incorporate that into something you cook, then when he says he is having an allergic reaction tell him he’s overreacting.

  334. My mother was recovering from surgery and a nurse had some very strong perfume. The perfume bothered both my mother and me. I confronted her with it. She said that I was rude. Another nurse told me I was insulting and asked me to leave. They did not consider my mother’s needs. I wrote a formal complaint and these nurses were reprimanded.

    I worked with a woman who was a receptionist at a law firm. She was a heavy smoker and also wore perfume. Somehow the smoke mixed with her body chemistry and made her body odor worse.

    For god’s sake people! Quit smoking, bathe, just use deoderant, and talcolm powder and be done with it. You are giving the majority of us headaches!

  335. I concur completely, however with one exception. It is not always the cheap scents that are hard to handle. Some very expensive perfume is obnoxious. Anything with a woodsey or floral scent tends to be heavy and hard to handle. Perfume that is a fruit base like Clinique is very soft and suttle and usually does not offend noses. You generally don’t notice it until you are very close and that is how any perfume was originally designed to be enjoyed. Not a block away or in the locker room for hours later. Up close and personal and everyone applying perfume should keep that in mind, close is better.

  336. Finally glad to see someone discuss this topic. I have severe allergies and many “smells” trigger my drippy nose and dull throbbing headache but none more than someone who bathes in their perfume or cologne. If you can smell someone approaching or they leave behind the aroma, they have on too much! Perfume and cologne should only be smelled when you are up close and personal, not 5 desks away or down the hall. The other day at a restaurant the waitress had on so much perfume I could taste it, needless to say I left without ordering anything at all and mentioned to the manager that he should speak to the waitress for fear of him losing other customers. Smelling clean is far more attractive for most and a light scent goes a long way. For those that don’t experience this immediate reaction be glad it can ruin the rest of your day. Thanks for bringing this to people’s attention.

  337. WTF what happened to the days when we just politely said to someone their perfume was a bit strong, the government does not have to be brought into EVERYTHING we freaking do, come on people use your half brains and start trying to solve some things on your ittty bitty own, GROW UP PEOPLE

  338. AND……..damn they have a disease name for every little whine and ailment people come up with, wow, ooo my toe hurts, it must be TOEITIS

  339. I have had acute allergic contact dermatitis since 2001. The initial trigger was the installation of wall-to-wall carpeting. During reactions, I became allergic to other chemicals, fragrances, metals, formaldehyde, etc. Unlike migraines, my symptoms of hives, red swollen face, watery eyes, etc. were apparent to all my co-workers. A patch test confirmed 13 allergens I had to avoid, antihistimines were prescribed, changed, increased, decreased and I suffered and fought to keep my office job for 2 yrs. HR was terrible to me, cracking ‘jokes’ about my condition (called me bubble-lady, offering me a porti-potty in my office to avoid the fragranced restroom). I had documented everything and after 2 yrs. I was so much better away from the office that my doctor said I couldn’t go back. I got a small workers-comp settlement and am now on SS disability – the SS judge approved it immediately. I know people will complain about that but some people truly deserve it. My life will never be the same. The few products I am able to use have to be fragrance-free, not unscented (they add chemicals to hide the scent but the fragrance chemicals are still there). I have to be able to leave areas that trigger reactions – fresh air is the antidote. It’s not an easy life and I advise everyone to identify your triggers and avoid them before it gets worse. By the way, fragrance allergies can also be triggered by spices, extracts, citrus and tomato products, etc.

  340. Cathy, I know what you mean, I have a co-worker that is holding the whole company hostage, the women are not allowed to wear scents, hairspray, lotions etc, due to her allergies, but the men can, and she can. She’s also a smoker and comes in after breaks reeking, but that’s okay for us to suffer through.

  341. I am a nurse and there is another Nurse that works with us that has caused me a lot of grief with her smells, I begged her and she laughed at me. I subsequently lost 3 days of work from hives. Shame on her, we were taught in Nursing 101 DO NOT EVER WEAR HEAVY SCENTS OF ANY KID.

  342. Thank God that this is Finally being recognized. Finger nail polish & remover; perfumes, flowers & goo be gone; certain candels, air freshner sprays & other fragances take away my breath. Even going pass the detergent isle I have to hold my breath to pass it. I’m sure most of us are not complainers but when it comes to Ones Health we Should be Concerned – Very Concerned! Where I use to work a co-worker use to bath in his cologne and I really had to keep my distance from him. Everything has a Very Strong scent to it why? I think we are being killed off by these scents (slowly). When my kids were little I use to have to hold my hand over my mouth and run through the area when we went into a plantarium (especially the flowery scented area). Wow!! I’m thankful for Non-Scented products and co-workers who are considered and work with you!!

  343. Wow. To think there are so many of us with sensitivities/allergies & also so many who don’t understand/care about the problem. I used to get migraines from scents. Thankfully, now the headaches are not as intense. And I’ve not had such a problem with asthma/breathing issues. But what has happened for years & still does is that my heart begins a type of arrhythmia with an isolated few scents. Don’t know what they are, but it’s quite frightening when it happens. It may appear rude to the ones who don’t understand, but I’ll grab a fan, heavy paper, anything that will work & fan vigorously to try & move the scent away from my breathing space. The arrhythmia usually stops as soon as the trigger is a safe distance away. To those who understand, thank you. For those who don’t, get away from me!

    Boring as it seems, I use unscented laundry detergent, fabric softener, deodorants, body washes, etc.

  344. I have severe allergies and asthma. I did go to my co-worker to ask her please not to wear her cologone that was causing me so much trouble. She very politely told me that she never wore perfume or any other scent and I was being over sensitive. Even though I went to HR I did not receive any assistance from them and had to do everything I could to avoid her. I resorted to sending her emails so that I would not have to go in her office when I needed something. I have since left this place of employment and just found out recently that she has been diagnosed with astham herself. I’m sorry for her but hope that maybe now she can help others realize that we are not making our illness up.

  345. I agree that strong perfume and such should not be worn in the workplace as it can bother people. I currently have a co-worker who puts lotion on her hands everyday that smells horrible (not sure what she likes about it as it stinks). We also had a former co-worker who would spend her 15 minute breaks and her 1 hour lunch inside her car with the windows up and smoke what seemed like a pack of cigarretes and you could not breath when she came back into the office!! People really need to be considerate of others in their daily hygene practices…

  346. On the second day of class, the perfume drenched girl came back. I whiperthis confession to her with a slightly desperate smile, ” Do you smell that? I don’t think it’s you, but someone here is wearing too much much perfume and I think it’s going to trigger an asthma attack for me. I wish I could figure out who was wearing all that pefume, so I could tell them it’s hurting me. Hopefully they’ll be understanding and stop wearing it. It’s really making me sick. I wish I could figure out who was wearing it, I need to tell them. I really dont want to go to a hostpoital tonight beacause someone’s perfume.” There was never a problem after that day, and the girl was saved from embarrassment. She turnedd out to be a great classmate and study partner.

  347. I too am sensitive to scents and have asked several times to please refrain from wearing perfume/cologne, scented deodorant, and not to use air fresheners in the offices. When someone walks into your office and the air in the room immediately fills with their scent, you know that it is too strong. I applied for ADA, but was told by HR that all they can do is ask the employees not to wear scents or use air fresheners. It still happens. I was told by the boss that I am very well respected, but if I am so respected then why do they still continue, because it is a joke to them. Oh well, that is what is considered collegial respect.

  348. I don’t think I have ever met a perfume that I liked. I get headaches and sinus problems as well. And I have a co-worker that would bathe in perfume. I approached her the second day of her employment and asked her not to wear perfume because it seriously bothered me. I was very nice about it, and she was great. She was not offended and said that her husband had the same sensitivity.
    HOWEVER, there are days that she forgets, or wears some other smelly thing. She often wears smelly body lotions and has no idea how potent they are. I tell her as often as needed that I can’t deal with whatever she is wearing that day. I even tell her (nicely) not to come into my office. She just seems set on finding a scent that doesn’t bother me. And doesn’t understand that it all BOTHERS ME!!

    PERFUME USERS: it is annoying to us! It stinks! Why are you so hell bent on spraying yourself with unnatural scents??? What smells good to you may smell nasty to another. Besides the physical reactions that people have, it smells bad. It should be enough that it STINKS, never mind having a horrible reaction. Not only are you choking us out, and causing us to suffer, but it just plain smells bad. Would you like to breath in skunk all day?

  349. Boy absolutely can relate. People need to realize if they put on so much scent that THEY can smell themselves, they have put on WAAYYY too much!

    I think the worst is on a plane. People just don’t realize that in that small tin can, marinating in your scent before getting on the plane causes problems for everyone!

  350. Hell, I can’t even get my 19 yr old son to listen to me. Every time he sprays on his cologne I tell him “thanks for the horrible taste in my mouth and the lovely headache.” He tells me I’m nuts! If it doesn’t affect some people they simply refuse to believe it could be bothering you that much.

  351. For those who can’t understand or won’t understand that the synthetic compounds in some fragrance products are TRULY unbearable for more and more people to tolerate…please, don’t bother posting here. Go away!

    I developed an auto-immune disease that was most likely triggered by this kind of “pollution”.

    I never had medical issues or allergic reactions to ANYTHING until my late twenties. Someone near my cubicle wore a perfume that sickened me. This was the early 80′s and I never felt that HR would help me then with this issue. I was taught to grin and bear things as a child…unfortunately. I had to leave the office and go home a few times because of that perfume. I confronted her nicely, but she was offended. I then told my boss and she moved that persons desk…things slightly improved. I soon learned to keep a small fan by my desk for the remainder of my career…there and elsewhere. But the damage was already done.

    I can almost feel the nausea, headache, eye ache even as I write about it. I’d rather sit through 3 consecutive root canals than try to endure just 1 minute of fragrance pollution!

    I wish this topic had been discussed more YEARS ago so that I would have had some validation and support. Instead, my health was compromised and I’m still dealing with it. I could win $$ with a lawsuit today, but not then! To all the A–H—s who insisted on wearing the dangerous crap after ignoring my pleas: I hope you developed an illness from your stubborn stupidity. Sound too severe? Well, that’s how ugly these symptoms are!

  352. The way you worded the end it makes it sound like everyone is trying to tell you they have a problem with the amount of cologne you wear… perhaps lay off of it a little bit and see if people stop talking to you about that particular issue so much.

  353. I’m not sure a lot of people are aware of this….scents…how many do you carry with you….
    laundry detergent
    fabric softener/dryer sheets
    hair spray/hair products
    shaving cream
    body wash/soap
    hand soaps/cleaners
    and then a lot of people put on a cologne/perfume/after shave on top of all that….
    NO wonder our scenses are revolting.

  354. Having bad hygiene is another issue that can influence the athmosphere in the working evironment negatively. I have a supervisor who head really bad hygiene and as I have a very sensitive sense of smell and weak stomach,after every briefing I was in the bathroom throwing up.How does one deal with such an issue if the person with the problem is ones manager? I spoke to HR about it, but my complaint was wiped under the carpet as they did not know how to handle it and did not even want to discuss it with that manager. I started looking for another job three months ago, but with the current job market good jobs are scarce…. I wished there was a standard code of hygiene policy in place.

  355. I know what everyone is talking about & i understand everyones situation. I have friends and family who suffer from certain scent allergies but do not agree with most of you on the scent free thing i do not spray the whole bottle of perfume on me but i buy perfumes that are a bit strong so one or two spritz will last me the whole day i once had a co-worker that had complained about it but she went on to tell me she couldn’t use soap,shampoo’s,deoderant and so on… now if you think about it yeah she has a right to tell me to tone it down but why would i also want to endure her stink as well because of all the items she couldn’t use she didn’t bathe is that fair? I don’t think so my cousin has the same problem with her skin any thing that she touches can make her skin break out in a huge rash she even has to go to extremes to bathe her daughter without it effecting her skin but she has never once complained about my perfume. I have a friend & her mother that are allergic to flower type smells which i enjoy very much but when im around them im sure to wear vanilla. i think thats what we need to do is yes be aware of the people around us with allergies and respect them by either wearing a different scent or having a more subtle scent. But most people have to realize that not every one knows you & your allergies so not everyone is going to know what to do. If you have a problem with random people & there scent go somewhere else because honestly i think your over reacting if you have a problem with people that work with you live with you etc. be a friend or at least interact with them more & they will start to understand you & respect you. everyone has there habits and we all can’t put someone down because of those habits. if you have allergies i understand but some people over react with random people they don’t know about there perfumes. If i were the same way then i wouldn’t want to be around anyone period. because i know they don’t shower or because they wear to much perfume no matter what allergies are there we all must deal with them some way or another. I have a very good nose so just about every scent hits me hard but at least i know that person is clean i think i would rather work with someone that smells great then someone who reeks of sweat & dirtyness ewww! Just my thoughts on working with someone that wears alot of perfume.

  356. Yes Brian, perfume should be banned at work, just like smoking. However, it would be difficult to request that on airplanes or other public places. This would open up a whole can of worms that would make it difficult to enforce. Smokers can be seen, perfume wearer (if more than one) may be difficult.

  357. I’m allergic to scents. And you never know when you are going to be around one. So just start taking allegra and never get a migraine for a scent again.

  358. It is obvious the “anonymous” person remarking on 6/21/10 has no medical needs. One does not have to be sitting next to a person with perfume on to have reactions. The chemicals are in the air, and even affect one in a large gym. Live with the condition one day, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, and your thoughts will change. When you can’t take your children places (or even attend parent teacher conferences), work in the field that you love, basically you can’t have a normal life, understanding all medical conditions becomes a priority. It’s chemically enduced, not physical and you have no control over other people. Migraines that cause disorientation, vomiting, severe asthma, and temporary numbness of the body part directly exposed are just a few symptoms that I suffer from during exposure. I have altered my life just to be able to breathe and stay alive because of people like this!

  359. David – The floater had MCS, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. It IS a real disorder. She probably was not aware that she had it and probably had not become very good at figuring out her triggers. Those of us with MCS suffer for years before we figure out what is going on with us. Yes, we are overly-sensitive in every way. The chemicals literally damage our brain in a way similar to what autistic children suffer. Are you familiar with their sensitivities to scents, sounds, bright lights, touch, electric fields, and their tendency for anxiety attacks? And would you submit these children to odors, noises, and bright lights just because YOU thought they were “normal”? It is the same with us, only we are not children, so people do not give us the same level of compassion. What YOU normal people judge about these stimuli is not relevant. We are SENSITIVE… In other words, we smell things that YOU DO NOT. I would not be able to sit at that desk for weeks or months after the chemicals were removed; it all depends on her level of sensitivity. Those odors become infused in the chairs, the carpets, the walls… your floater was probably not aware of these things and was looking at the wrong place. There is no limit to how sensitive a person can become, so any assumptions you might make about how long should be enough for the chemicals to dissipate, is moot.

    Now, you are right about people being able to set off these reactions when there is no offending substance, though. She was probably not aware of that either, and most MCS sufferers do not want to admit it to themselves even, for fear of exactly the response you had. We are not “CRAZY,” whatever you call “crazy.” (And I would recommend you stop using that term, because even people with real mental illnesses deserve respect just as much as people with diseases of the heart or lungs do.) You have no right to judge what is happening here. You haven’t studied the physiology behind these reactions. And assuming you know what’s going on makes you look like a fool. The triggering of reactions is similar to what you see in PTSD, only with MCS, you get physical reactions. You will not see most of them, but there is actual inflammation going on in our bodies, including in our brains, which can make us act out in anger, fear, or what you might call “drama.” The way to handle this is with compassion, not giving her more reason to be traumatized.

    Note to all of you with this problem… your disability is covered by the ADA, so please stand up for your rights. There are also doctors who can help.

  360. Just a light spritz of cologne is all one needs, the whole world dont need to wiff you. delicate is good. Overpowering is horrible.

  361. This happens to me all the time. One of the conditions when I hire a person is to let them know they cannot wear perfumes, colognes, body lotions and oils that are heavy and strong. I can’t breathe around them. I recently had a younger employee that thought it wasn’t perfume but body wash that it would be okay. I made a comment for two days hoping she would get the hint. After two days, I was sick. After two days off work she asked me how I was and I told her that it was the scents she used that caused my sinus and respiratory attack and advised her if she wanted to stay working she had to not put anything on that was strong and offensive to me. Unfortunately (fortunately) others around me don’t have the same effect on them. Even candles, room deodorizers, smokers, etc. have the same effect on me. It’s a curse! Even outdoors I have to move around to avoid the problem. Scents from natural (not artificial) vanilla, spices, pine don’t bother me. You add in the floral especially the artificial and I’m dying. Every workplace, public facility including restaurants should be smoke free and fragrant free. There are too many elderly and younger people on oxygen these days and the indoor air especially needs to be cleaned up. It is a big issue! Thank you!

  362. I get a sick migraine when I encounter certain scents which lay me out flat in minutes. When I requested that co-workers be requested to refrain from wearing colognes and perfumes to work, I was told that I would have to go to a Doctor and have tests performed to prove my allergic reaction before they would do that!!

  363. It seems 90% of the people at my company immerse themselves in gallons of cologne. Years ago I asked my boss to speak to the stinky person in the next cube but the boss never did. What’s even worse is the stinky person and I sometimes share a company car so when I get into the car after she’s used it the smell is enough to gag a magot. I never thought about filing a lawsuit against my company but after reading this article it is definitely an option I will explore. I’m not far from retirement and a few extra thousand in my pocket would be great!

  364. So frustrating. Because of my asthma/allergies I struggle to breathe, I’m unable to go to movies, concerts, even the grocery store is “iffy” because people wear their perfume. Even when I workout I constantly get the person that has bathed in their perfume next to me on the treadmill/elliptical/upright bike – so dang frustrating.

  365. First, Ernest you need to crawl back in your hole. My husband is an Electrician and he still makes sure that anything he is wearing first does not affect me, but then will not affect anyone else.
    Second, ksbco, I agree.
    Third, Roshini, same problem, it’s like you drank from the perfume bottle.
    I have just taken to either holding my nose, or covering my nose w/my shirt around anyone who is “too strong”. Rather embarassing for some people when the person behind in the line at WalMart is covering their nose until you leave.

  366. All you people whining about scents, I’m wondering how many of you are just annoying little assholes. If someone came up to me and said that my perfume was bothering them, it would really depend on the person and who they are to me to determine what I’d do.

    If the person was some asshole, I’d keep wearing the perfume- I’d probably put it on even more. If the person was someone I liked, then I’d probably stop wearing the perfume.

    Maybe you should evaluate yourselves as people instead of just assuming that everyone doesn’t understand your condition.

  367. All these chemicals in colonge are hormone disrupters. My biggest problem is running on the treadmill and right next to me is a lady who has to use the whole bottle of colone. I have asthma and I cough. They look at me and I figure, if I have to smell your terrible colone, you can listen to me choke.

  368. Recently, my boyfriend and I were visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park. While on one of the cave tours, there was a man who had sprayed himself with what seemed like a half a bottle of Aqua di Gio. In a “normal” scenario, I am fine with the smell of this cologne. However, we were walking through confined spaces, deep underground, where there was no escape from his cologne-assault. He was actually leaving a trail of his own scent all along the trail through the cave. It was terrible, and actually affected our enjoyment of the tour. It was clear that other people were also overwhelmed by his cologne, and were trying to keep as much distance from him as possible. I couldn’t help but wonder why a person would where cologne while hiking through a cave anyway.

    At any rate, etiquette teaches us to only where a “dab” of fragrance. Anyone other than you, and your significant other should not even be able to smell it. And, there are certain situations where it is simply inappropriate to where perfume or cologne at all. One of these situations is when a person will be in an enclosed space with other people.

  369. PS to my previous post:

    I only react to the strong fragrances that have *synthetic compounds* in them. I can wear a dab of “Origins” ginger scent and it doesn’t bother me. Their ingredients are more pure. It appears that over the years, many body fragrances/perfumes have gotten better with the ingredients…not enough though. I can’t deal with Bed, Bath & Beyond’s candle area…gotta hold my breath and walk fast past it!

  370. I too am a migraine sufferer along with cluster headaches. I am 50 and have had them since I was 13. So far there is no medication that helps me so I am on no medications. The only defense I have is to sleep and stay away from triggers which is very hard since I have a very sensitive nose. Triggers are everywhere and I find myself constantly moving away from people who wear perfume . Many time I have left the doctors office feeling worse than when I got there just because of the waiting room smells. I was going to the headache and pain center for a year and many times the nurse was wearing perfume and she always shut the door. The smell stayed in my nose until I could get out to fresh air. I made a few complaints to my doctor but he just blew it off. Even many nurses wear it and I feel for the patients benefit, it should be banned from any time of medical services. People just don’t understand what we sufferers go through. If they did, I feel they would be more considerate or I at least like to think they would. I truly love perfume and wore it years ago but I just can’t be around it anymore. When you have headaches 24/7 like I do, it’s hard to avoid all triggers but I still any type of medical services should be all be perfume free. PERFUME IS THE WORST TRIGGER OF ALL!!!!!

  371. I have more trouble with the really expensive scents. The reaction I have is caused by the ingredient(s) not the price that was paid for those ingredients. My reactions are burning skin, swollen lips and headaches. In fairness to those who don’t suffer from this, it’s kind of like a food allergy; if you’re not allegic to something, you probably eat it regardless of whether or not the person sitting across from you is allergic to it. If someone isn’t bothered by a scent, they probably don’t understand how you feel until you let them know. Speak up (or have someone in Human Resources do it for you :-).

  372. Wow Michael,
    A bully like you – I’d quit before it ever became a problem. You’re a lawsuit waiting to happen. I only have pollen allergies but I was trained to understand both food and chemical allergies as a human resources person. Allergies are not “in your head” they are real physical reactions. Our world is so over-chemicially saturated I’m not surprised allergies kick in. Most perfumes are FAKES of natural scents and pheremones re-created for a mass market. What happened to just soap and water and deodorant. Do you really have to cover up all possibility of natural scents in the world? Some perfumes are just chemical baths to hold off the real world.

  373. I would just like to point out that for some people, like myself, perfume can be more than just bothersome. I have sevire allergies to sents, I swell and break out in huge red bumps and have to be rushed to the ER for it. I would love it if people who like to take baths in perfume were to be treated the same as smokers. I have always smoked and have always been very curtous about it walking as far away from my work place as possable, giving myself time to air out before returning ect, if on;y everyone would be curtous to others

  374. Jenny, yes, it can be life threatening as I go into an asthma attack – also, it’s quite unfair and rediculous to ask me to leave my workout area because someone comes to use the machine next to me.

  375. Perfume at work

    I have many times explained to coworkers that the use of the same perfume day after day, desensitized the individual using it, therefore he/she will be adding more and more until it becomes offensive to those around. I have also mentioned that perfumed individuals should make sure that their perfume stays within them, ask a friend or co worker if they can smell the perfume from a distance of 3ft if they do, you are over doing it!

    Allergies are a medical condition, 50% of Americans have some type of allergy
    90% associated with food. If perfume makes you sick please seek help ASAP!

    I do not agree in any more regulations at work, we can control this issue without yet another law!!!

    Maybe when filing applications for work, we should include a disclaimer “in this location perfume is acceptable” so that the applicant has the opportunity to apply somewhere else or agree to take his medicine every morning to avoid
    getting sick.


  376. Excuse me? Suited monkeys? Many of us are very educated and work in an office environment and yet work very hard. Just because we don’t do manual labor doesn’t mean we don’t work hard or have a difficult job. There’s really no need for you to be calling people names, generalizing, stereotyping and being downright insulting and rude.

  377. I have a family member who wears perfume and I do not like the smell of it. To me, she smells like a nursing home (she is in her early twenties), and the smell begins to trigger my allergies. She insists on holding my youngest which then the perfume is transfered onto my baby. I haven’t found a nice way to address the issue without offending her. Last time I brought this up with a family member years ago, she retaliated by dousing herself in perfume and then hugging all over my oldest. I wish they respected my wishes because it gets to be too much!

  378. I, too suffer from severe allergies. I really am tired of smelling people’s perfume. My air passages close up and I start to go into attack mode. Leave the heavy stuff at home, for those romantic occassions. Stop making the rest of the world suffer!

  379. To the guy who has “studied” the AMA and would fire an employee for making a complaint..boy am I glad I don’t work for you! Your employees must be miserable having a boss who is such a jerk! If you were to fire someone over making a complaint about someone’s perfume/cologne, they’d have your butt on a platter!

  380. I agree that it can be very helpful to go to your fellow co-workers and explain the difficulty that you are having. But that does not always work. I suffer from Migraines and a co-workers gets horrible sinus pain from perfume. We have both talked to the people in the office that we have the biggest problem with. They seem very sorry and say they will not wear it again, but 2-3 days later there they are. “oh I wore perfume out last night” or “it’s left on my clothes from the weekend.” I have gone as far as pointing out other things that could cause the scent like moisturizer. . .always receiving denial. Management will do nothing, except give me a hard time when I use my sick days for my migraines.

    I do not expect people to change their life to suit me, but a little help and honesty would be nice. I would do it for them.

  381. I can’t believe people are blaming SMELLS on everything from headaches to HEART CONDITIONS!?!?!?? How insane is this that we have become such a whiny, ridiculously litigious society that should we merely smell something don’t like that we run off to our allergists, internists, dermatologists, chiropractors and finally HR Departments and ATTORNEYS to rescue us from this horrible offense.What the eff is wrong with people??
    Are we all forgetting that MOST of us can’t smell our own scent? Those of you complaining about colognes or perfumes may want to take a look inward and consider that YOU may very well be stinkin up the joint yourselves….
    just a thought.

  382. On more than one occasion we’ve had to request different seats at a theater/performance, on airplanes, dining – even outdoors, due to strong fragrances “drifing”. Wait staff and servers should be trained not to wear fragrances when taking care of customers – food and fragrances are not a good mix.
    A few heavy spritzes of your favorite fragrance can cause hours of discomfort.

    There are many allergies out there, as was noted on my last plane ride where no peanuts or nuts could be served in a 4 row area.

    So it’s real, it’s serious and people should be aware or made arware of the adverse effects of strong fragrances.

    It’s about thinking of others well being.

  383. People who show a sensitivity to perfumes and chemical smells may want to see if they have a sensitivity to yeast and mold as well. They can go hand in hand. I know if I need to adjust my diet if my coworker’s fabric softener gives me a headache and if I am tuned in to the fragrances that other people are wearing. It has helped me.

    I use fragrance-free fabric softeners, detergents, soaps, etc. I have noticed that essential oils do not seem to bother me to the extent that synthetic fragrances do, but that’s just me. I don’t know what can trigger a reaction in anyone else.

    If you check out a website called the Cosmetic Safety Database, they list fragrances as neurotoxins. The problem with the word “fragrance” in an ingredient list is that it is considered a proprietary formula that the manufacturer does not have to disclose. There can be any number of ingredients and chemicals in it that can be harmful to a person’s health.

    Thankfully, I have found a manageable way to deal with this, but it still gives me problems sometimes. I recommend the book “The Yeast Connection” if anyone would like to look into this further. I hope it helps.

  384. I’m with John Meurer — you’ve really got to try the direct approach and not be passive-aggressive. I’m also hyper-sensitive but have no trouble asking the offender to tone it down. One of my least favorites is vanilla body spray. Folks don’t seem to realize that vanilla is a food flavoring; not a perfume. Occasionally it works halfway decently as a room deadorizer, but fer crissakes, keep it off your body.

    I’ve also found that the more natural perfumes (and generally the more expensive) — those made with rose, sandalwood, ambergris, etc. — are not nearly as offensive as the chemically-based cheapos. Don’t even get me started on Victoria’s Secret’s armada of chemical weapons (disguised as ‘scents’)! A discerning nose can definitely tell the difference.

    Thanks for a great post — it is an issue for many. But again, try directly approaching the offender rather than running to HR or filing a lawsuit first. Most people don’t even realize they’re overdosing on scent. If they prove to be intractable, then you can escalate the issue.

    And @ A Noun: HILARIOUS description of the dastardly Dakkar Noir fiend at your workplace!

  385. Allelulia!!! I am so glad that I am not the only one! I have mild allergies but certain perfumes and hairsprays kill me. I really have a hard time breathing around them and it feels like my throat is closing up. I have talked with my doctor and have tried a number of things to take after I come in contact with these perfumes or hairsprays but nothing has worked. My own mother has one expensive perfume that she loves and swears she only puts a little on but I can’t go near her. If she hugs my daughter, she has to take a shower before I can go near my own daughter!!! Oh, and going to church sometimes if pure heck! When a lady with overbearing perfume sits near me, I immediately start coughing and then feel like I can’t breathe. I don’t understand why these people love their perfume and it smells wonderful to them, but I can’t be around it and it really, really smells terrible to me. Why is that?

  386. Sorry – but I have severe allergies and migranes, but there is NO way I would go to work or out of the house with out some perfume on. I believe the stronger issue should be smoking. Doesn’t that cause anyone headaches or breathing problems? Between the two evils – I vote to keep the perfume. We have the “no smell good” policy at work too, and until my company can pay me the extra money that it will take to stock my house with anti – smell anything – their just going to have to live with it. My work will not dictate how I live my life. This is such a invasion of privacy, life and liberty! Do something about the smokers. We even have one person here who complains about the perfume smells and they SMOKE! Sorry what about the lingering sent of 2nd hand smoke…. Cancer – anyone?

  387. You are absolutely marvelous ! Thanks for the info on how you handle your co-workers. i am going to use that question – (what are you hiding) THANK YOU ! !

  388. Perfumes are made with chemicals, hormones, etc. that are meant to interact with human biology in order to elicit certain responses. Unfortunately, sometimes these scents, purposely concocted to be invasive cause the non consenting recipient to have a physiological response which causes the recipient to cease to be able to breathe. If that person is not able to get medical attention quickly enough, after such a reaction, and continues to be unable to breathe that person will die. Just like someone allergic to peanuts, eating peanuts or a person allergic to bee stings being stung. It is an absolute certainty that someone in your office or on the street or at the restaurant where you are eating at the grocery store, etc. will have an allergic reaction, triggering an asthmatic attack. When someone has an asthmatic attach, their lungs constrict, they close up, making it impossible for the asthmatic to take a breath of air. I don’t understand why people believe that their desire to be attractive to the opposite sex supersedes another persons right to live. It’s bizarre.

  389. I can sympathize with people out there. I especially like the perfume or colognes that are so strong you can taste them and have to go around all day trying to get rid of the taste. I also have a husband who is very sensitive to perfumes, colognes, cleaning supplies, candles, and spray scents. I can no longer spray hair spray around him because it locks his nose up and gives him a migraine. I also have to be careful what I wash and dry his clothes in. When I vacuum I have to open the doors and windows because it stirs stuff up in the air. Last year when we were looking at houses to buy I can’t tell you how many houses we walked into and he would turn around and walk right back out without even looking. People would use the plug in air fresheners and he literally will get sick from those. I have even started becoming sensitive and will start sneezing and my eyes will swell shut. I have even started buying sun screen and unscented lotions because I started noticing the scent and it started bothering me. No, I don’t care what other people wear but you shouldn’t be able to taste it or smell if from down the hallway.

  390. I appreciate your quandry. But you need to remember something. You certainly have an allergy/sensitivity. Perhaps you need to seek treatment for this issue. The world around you will not ever conform to your particular sensitivities. To imply that everyone should do so is shortsighted and not going to happen. No, people should not wear heavy scents, especially during a workplace scenario. No, heavy deoderizers and pungent candles are not appropriate in a workplace setting. But if simple soaps used in bathing bother you then you must have an extreme sensitivity. Please realize that you will need to do something proactively for yourself to reduce your reaction to common, everyday odors. Not try to change the world around you to fit your needs. It is ludicrious to expect people to stop wearing deoderants and using scented soaps for the few that are hypersensitive. The flip side of this scenario is someone who has body odor that needs to use deoderants and soaps to ensure that they don’t “offend” someone with sweaty scent. If you have never been in close proximity with someone that has this problem you are lucky. This issue is important to the ones that have hypersensitivities. Like anyone that has an ongoing health issue, the type of job setting you choose to work in should be a consideration. To legislate and to make laws based on the thought that it is the right to breath clean air vs the right to wear scents is beyond idiotic. What is this country coming to???? Where is common sense and consideration for others?

  391. Thank you for acknowledgeing that this is a huge problem for some of us. People do not understand or respect the issue. I get severe migraines from frangrance, air freshener etc. I could be out of work for two days and also need a third to recover from the dehydration associated with the severe vomiting. I only buy products that are scent free including soap, deoderant, cleaning products. It is not a matter of preference but necessity. It is unfortunate that people like “Michael” just don’t care.

  392. I empathize with you. While hospitalized in November after a sigmoid resection surgery, I was very nauseous and hyper-sensitive to scents and odors. One nurse came in to care for me and I was sickened by her cigarette odor. What I did was talk to the nurse floor manager. Luckily they were looking for feedback. Talk to someone in charge to make them aware. Caregivers should be informed and should know better. Thanks for serving our country, by the way. Good luck.

  393. It’s great to hear that I’m not alone. I suffer from allergies related to perfume products. I personally make sure that laundry detergent soaps etc. are fragrance free as well as many other products. It’s the first thing I check when I read the ingredients. I stay away from the candles in stores.
    If people need to wear perfume first of all they shouldn’t wear it in the workplace period (just common sense) nor should they wear it in a movie theater etc. where people are enclosed and exposed to it. However there are some people whom I’ve got to know where they’ve been in the workplace just form smelling their perfume. I know they walked down the hallway because I can still smell it. I went to HR who started spraying perfume purposely afterwards in the air in the office. I spoke with the Administrator who is in her 20′s who pretty much told me that she will continue to wear perfume that it was a natural part of life. Yes right wait till you get a little older.
    I leave work on a daily basis all stuffed up and sick to my stomach. I feel I have no rights as an individual to not being able to breath well because of the perfumes. Legally I thought of pursuing this but felt it was a waste of time because what matters most is the freedom to wear perfume not the victim who pays for it everyday. I’m sure there are no laws protecting the victim. I don’t smoke but I would rather smell cigarette smoke that smoke covered up with a half bottle of Musk. Thanks for writing in everyone. It’s helped me!

  394. You are exactly the type of person that should experience what these people go through, just once. It is so sad that there are so many inconsiderate and spiteful people in this world. It is those people that make life Hell!

  395. I have TERRIBLE allergies to any perfumes, scented deodorants, laundry detergents, etc. I have had to leave work and go home due to getting sick from co-workers scents. It creates a problem for me if I go to church or any other place where people seem to ‘bathe’ in perfume. I no longer work and try to avoid situations where I am ‘closed in’ with someone smelling of perfume. When I was working, I tried to explain to co-workers and bosses about the strong fragrances making me sick and they looked at me like I was crazy. Anyone who doesn’t suffer from this type of allergy has a hard time understanding it.

  396. maybe you should grow up and learn some consideration for others…-if i were your boss…i’d fire you just on your attitude alone…get real b…

  397. I really liked this article. I am a little sensitive to some smells cologne, flowers & etc. My Supervisor on the the other hand has a problem with lots of smells. Cologne, flowers, cleaners, candles & etc. Her office is right next to mine & I do like wearing cologne. So any time I want to get a new one I pass it by her first. I don’t tell her I know how you are about smells. I just don’t want to cause her in grief. If she likes it then I’m in the clear.


  399. Not sure if people think other people see heavy perfumes/colognes as status symbol or fashion statement, but I just view it as an insult to my nose and an intrusion into my space that I cannot escape if it’s in the workplace, a restaurant, an airplane or even the line at the grocery store. People, you do not do the world a favor by stinking it up with your (not MY) choice of fragrance. Just shower and be clean. It triggers migraines for me, and many other people, and plenty of other health issues. Yet, we still feel we hurt the stinker’s feelilngs by asking them to obstain from splashing on the fragrance. Why is that?

  400. I don’t have a problem with scents. However, my mother does. As she lives with my husband and me here is what the problem is:
    1. Throat closing, she’ll cough up an instant load of about a cup of the gooey stuff.
    2. Without a puffer she’d likely suffocate.
    3. Even fresh store floor wax ‘clouds’ her mind and makes her dizzy.

    My mother cannot go into public places without medication and an escape route planned. Candle stores, inside a mall, mean that she can’t go anywhere near the neighbouring stores. This goes too for the big department stores that she loves, by the way, but they have perfume counters at the entrances. Malls have become nearly impossible, unless she shops near the exits.

    Another thing, if your fabric softener is scented, it hangs around all your clothes anyway..

    All she wants is to breathe. Isn’t that her right, too?

    But how does big business deal with it? Probably gives them a headache just thinking about it. Hmm. Maybe their minds go cloudy, too.

  401. I have a ZERO fumes policy when my ICs are working a contract. I have severe asthma and all perfumes make me sick. I couldn’t care less if they have a desperate need to feel pretty. I have a desperate need to breathe and it is a lawsuit if the company refuses to provide a healthy work area for those who are allergic.

  402. for john muerer…i hope that one day your comment comes bacck to bite you in the butt…you are an inconsiderate butthole

  403. I am so thrilled to hear about this — I was a Registered Respiratory Therapist for 32 years and would still be if I hadn’t become sensitive to a aerosolized medication–I initally lost my voice and felt like I had the flu all of the time.— I thought it would go away— much to my dismay it didn’t, it kept getting worse — anything that was chemical based with a smell, I became sick– it effects me not only with smells but with medication. I have to be very careful with certain mediations because my blood pressure goes extremely high (220/110) . Trust me if I could still be working I WOULD BE!!!!!! I wore masks when I gave this medication still didn’t help!!!! I never called off of work except to have two children– I loved my job and would go back in a heart beat!!!! I have no regular allergies — only ones that are laced with chemicals—- hand sanitizers,cleaners, perfumes, smoke, exhaust,lawn chemicals are big problems for me. I know there are several people out there that still don’t belive this chemical sensitivity problem — All I can say is “WALK IN MY SHOES”

  404. OMG, don’t you have spell check? I counted more than 10 spelling errors in your post. That drives me nuts almost as much as fragrances.

  405. Wow Brittany…you are such a bitch. It has nothing to do with “evaluating one’s self as a person”. Nor am I “an annoying little asshole”. I have an actual medical condition called Asthma; in fact I have severe Asthma. A year ago I almost died from asphyxiation after having prolonged contact with a woman drenched in perfume. I am not whining…I want to be able to breathe and not die. Period.

    Maybe YOU should evaluate yourself as a person, not for the fact that you don’t understand (when it’s a no-brainer) but for the fact that you don’t care about other people. If the person was someone you liked then you’d probably stop wearing it?…you are a piece of work.

  406. I am very saddened and very Happy by how my people actually feel the way I do, I would like to Deeply Thank you all for standing up for yourselves and your rights, I am out of work because of this issue, some offices make coffee every day, all heavy scent’s and Chemical simply shut down my immune system to the point of having to lay down for a couple of day and with difficulty breathing. My triggers are, Perfume, Bleach, Candles, Matches, Cigarettes, any smoke at all (420, middle eastern water pipe, cigars), Fabric softeners, deodorizers, Strong Shampoos and Conditioners, Strong soaps, Strong Detergents, Buses and Cars, Strong Cooking Odors, Incense, even when there are too many people in one room, no one realizes it but there is a shortage in oxygen, I know it sounds funny, I tell you I’m right, my body just knows, Makeup, Hair Spray, Hair Coloring, I even lose my voice when in contact with these products, the worst part is, you can’t always tell when someone is sick of these things, first of all that person looks as normal as any of us, second, when your having an allergic reaction, it’s not always apparent with gasping although this is by far the scariest and yes I have gone through gasping or chocking for air many times and nothing can be done until your body calms down, it’s an Asthma Attack, Very Scary, other ways are just being very nauseas to the point of having to immediately having to lay down, there is no choice when this happens as in the other reactions, your body is speaking very loudly and you best listen or you pay dearly for this, I noticed a lot of people brush it off and just ignore the fact that this is someone’s Reality, at what point do we realize what we are doing to ourselves, each other, our planet and only home, our fellow creatures, our children, I hear a lot of talking about it, honestly I see nothing done, I can’t find a job because I have so many restrictions, It’s not a good feeling, I am well educated that even a computer desk job is difficult to find let alone keep, I use to be a very social person, now I find myself alone because no matter how many times I explain this to so called my friends, no wants to change their bad habits for someone else regardless whether it’s a family member, friend or roommate. This is a Bigger Problem than everyone realizes and people like myself need help controlling this situation, in a way, I guess, I am reaching out and asking for everyone to open their eyes and minds to what we are doing in general, this is Really bad, we are destroying each other and our only Home, Planet Earth. We have to keep talking about this until something is done, there needs to be regulations on all these products asap, this is not about rights it’s about Life, the right to live, it’s sad to me when I put it this way yet also very Real, I have the right to live in a safe and Chemical Free World.

  407. My dad has Multiiple Chemical Sensitivity and Fibromialga. When he comes in contact with most scents and any chemicals his body reacts by causing extreme inflammation in various parts of his body. Almost immediately his mouth will become full of huge sores that can last for weeks. He also gets extremely tired and achey for days like he has the flu. Also, he gets inflammation in various areas (he has had it in the muscle around his heart-feels like your having a heart attack for about a week!!) These are not exagerations–they are real symptoms. These are in addition to his “minor”
    symptoms such as inability to breathe and bad headaches. These symptoms limit his lifestyle greatly. He works, but is in pain constantly. He could never work in an office or closed enviornment. Everyone around him HAS to be scent free, so we all live scent free. He cannot attend any events or even go to other peoples houses for supper. He can’t go to the mall or a sporting event. Imagine if that were you or your child or parent. Would smelling great be so important if it affected your quality of life to this extent? Think about all the scented products people pile on one on top of the other. Shampoo, soap or body wash, body lotion, deodant, make-up, skin creams, hair product (sometimes 2 or 3) scented laundry detergent, and fabric softener. Now lets add perfume or cologne. Also, if you are covering up some dirty smells in your home or office wiith air fresheners or scented candles, those smells stick to you. They stick to your hair, your clothes, and your skin and people wiith chemical sensitivities can smell them on you when you leave your house. There is almost nothing worse than a person who smells like Febreeze or Glade.
    There’s a reason so many people are starting to get sick from this stuff—because it bad for us! Next time your out enjoying yourself around other people, stop and think about those who are unable, and maybe you’ll find it within yourself to atleast limit the scents your using. Thanks.

  408. as a nurse, we are required NOT to wear perfumes …even nail polish…although many nurses don’t follow the rules…you can’t imagine someone coming out of surgery and being innundated with someone’s overpowering perfume…makes you want to vomit…and you’re already feeling bad enough…it’s about time the people of the world need to realize that they are not the ONLY ones on this lovely planet…!!!

  409. Unless you are a model or your work demands you look perfect for the product / services. Perfumes should not be allowed in offices. The employees are there to work not “feel pretty.” As an employer I hired them to do a job, not “feel pretty.”

  410. This is a great topic. My mom and I have been suffering for years with the same problem. Too much perfume, odors or all sorts from everywhere, cologne, room fresheners, candles, Tide, cleansers, new carpet, dried eucalyptus, lit scented candles, Charlie, Musk, Plug in Air Fresheners and the all time worse offender, Calvin Kleins OBSESSION can put us both into a wheezing, sneezing, migraine paralized affect for a day or 2.
    Church, movies, dinner out, anything involving people is always a guessing game as to weather or not we’ll be violently ill and our event ruined. The worse is, I work with a women, my boss, who sprays on all the old time perfume to mask smoke odors. Even though I politely asked her to refrain, she still does it. She even reapplies through out the day. It’s a power thing I think. I suffer all day, it affects my performance.
    Even though I am very sensative, I know people will still wear perfume, it’s their choice of course, what they should realize is they don’t need to put it on so strong. A little bad will do ya’. Especially they should know the quality of the perfume, usually, the more expensive and smaller the bottle, the less you use, like a pin point. The spray type should be one little spritz and walk into it so your clothes get it, not your skin. Please be considerate to your co-workers and family members, if they have a reaction, please dont wear it around them.

  411. I too am very affected by all scents & fumes. I have non-smokers COPD (have never smoked). I had to retire from teaching several years ago. The last 9 months I worked, I was in the hospital 3 times. Scents & fumes aggrevate my COPD causing my asthma to act up and forcing me to use my inhailer and sometimes sending me to the hospital for very expensive, extended stays, being pumped full of antibiotics and steroids! I always have to keep my inhailer and portable nebulizer with me. I also carry a bandana to cover my nose & mouth and a handheld fan to blow the scents and fumes away from me. There are certain people I cannot even hug because the perfume/aftershave or cigarette smell is so toxic to my ability to breathe. Some people understand this and are very helpful, and some people don’t understand and couldn’t care less. Those people I wave to and keep at arms length by reminding them to stay a good distance away. It is up to me to protect and take care of myself.

  412. This is for all of you who SUFFER with migraines due to scent reaction. I began getting migraines at age 11. No one knew why. Mom always wore perfume and had the house full of flowers. The headaches continued until I moved away. At work people wearing strong scents, or amonia cleaning agents also gave me migraines. So I had to learn to COPE. Telling them only makes them look at you as if you are CRAZY. I got this look many times. Even my own mother refused to wash off her perfume. The fact is that NOBODY gives a damn about it. So, I stuck cotton balls up my nose, and breathe through my mouth. Now I can do it without the cotton balls. I avoid places that have fragrance, and do the best I can to live amongst the “stinkos”. The majority of people have no idea how miserable this is. I even asked a surgeon to cut out my sence of smell and he laughed at me. FOR PEACE OF MIND: AVOID ALL PEOPLE AND PLACES THAT TRIGGER IT AND LEARN TO BREATHE THROUGH YOUR MOUTH. It helps you to cope. Also don’t tell anyone about your problem. Keep it to yourself. That works better.

  413. Exasperating the problem is the fact that people who wear scent regularly become desensitized to the odor of their perfume….meaning they get so used to it, they can’t smell it anymore and have to use more to smell it…If a person who wears perfume regularly, lays off it for a week or so, they will reset their sensitivity and be able to use less of it and enjoy it just as much. It will save money too. One purchases perfume and wears it to be more attractive, what the person who over-indulges doesn’t understand is that not only are they creating a life threatening situation for asthmatics, but they are also making themselves extremely unattractive. Key word: Moderation. You want to be subtle, not clobber the person over the head with your scent.

  414. I’m sorry, but if this is so crippling that it gives your anaphylactic shock, then you should stop working in crowded, small areas. I have asthma and am in a stage in my life where I’m choosing my career. I’m obviously not going to work in a perfume factory or a grain mill because of this. If your condition is so serious that it’s affecting your life in a negative way, then YOU have to make this change for yourself, or you’ll simply continue to suffer.

    Now, I understand that not everyone is in a place to change careers or jobs, but you should seriously consider it. People have a right to wear what they wish just as long as they aren’t over-doing it. (which often happens. Trust me, I understand this.) And if even the barest of scents leaves you incapacitated, then you should not be in that environment for your own health. Period.

    I personally wear a very unknown, subtle scent, so I’ve never had this problem. All I do is one spray on the wrist, then rub that on scent spots. If this were to be a problem, then I have to be honest, I wouldn’t change much. I have a right just like any one else to put on my one spray of perfume and wear it. If I happen to spray more on a certain day and you mention it, then yes, I would lay off.

    I hope you ladies (and guys) that are sensitive can find some relief, just not at the expense of others rights too.

  415. Allergies to these chemicals are real, not imagined. My husband has always been allergic to the smells, but I figured if he couldn’t smell dryer sheets, they wouldn’t bother him. Wrong! Got some unscented ones, threw them in the wash, and he broke out in hives everywhere the clothing touched his skin. He didn’t know what was causing it until I fessed up, and boy, did I feel bad. Once you go without scents for awhile, you become much more sensitive to them. I used to be a perfume wearer, but now I belong to the other camp and I’m sensitive to scents of all types. Go without for a month and see how much stronger it smells to you . . . synthetic is worse than natural. No one should be subjected to any of them against their will!

  416. My boss is a bitter joyless women who uses the most awful perfume to cover up her smoking habit. My only consolation is that she looks 20 years older than she is and will probably contract some form of cancer from her disgusting habit. Then she’ll die and the world will be a better place.

  417. I believe that America has gotten lawsuit happy over the years. However, when something is causing you to have a debilitating illness flare up and you miss days of work in order to care for yourself then there’s a problem. I believe she was right in suing the city. After you’ve been to the person and asked them to stop, then to HR, and the building manager, what choice do you have? I’ve been suffering with migraines for 7 years, and allergies all my life. Yes while most of the scents are derived from natures scents, they are not completely, and anyway I’m allergic to all trees, weeds and yes even grass. So asking me how I can even get to my car as one person put it is stupid since I’m an asthmatic also. People mowing their lawns sends me into an automatic asthma attack. People need to think about how things affect other people. You wear perfume/cologne you are probably going to set off someone who has allergy problems, asthma, or migraines. McBride probably needed that $100,000 to compensate for her lost wages for having to go home and take her medicine in order to get rid of the debilitating pain that a migraine causes. Most migraine medicines cause the person to get very dizzy and sleepy. So you can’t work when your medicines do that to you.

    I work in a Nursing Home so I know I can’t work like that. One of my coworkers like to spray stuff in the air that causes me to have a migraine. I told her about it and she just said to me that oh yeah well she just loves the smell of BM. OK well congrats you just lost another worker for today that could have helped to get rid of that smell because now I have to go home and work on getting rid of the migraine. I don’t care if we are short staffed because I am no longer safe to continue working now because of the possibility of dropping my patients when I lift them. If that was your mother and you got a call like that what would you do? You’d want to sue the company for all they are worth. So I don’t see the difference.

    And by the way the day my coworker sprayed that in the air and told me in the story above I DID end up having to go home with a migraine so bad that when I got told I couldn’t go home because we were short staffed, I had to crawl down the hallway, yes CRAWLED, to go into one of my patient’s rooms to call my husband to come get me because I couldn’t drive. That’s another point. Lights cause the pain to get worse so stepping into the sun isn’t good, and the headlights coming at you are murder. I could have killed someone trying to get home with a migraine. Just to think YOU would be responsible for that killing because YOU sprayed the room with something, or wore that perfume/cologne. So THINK next time on how something MIGHT affect someone and how YOU might be responsible.

  418. Perfume overdose? I had surgery for a broken hip last November. Before I came completely out of the anesthetic I had a nurse trying to lift my head close to her body. She was wearing what seemed to be a very cheap perfume in huge quantities. The combination of that perfume with the anesthetic nearly did me in. Should nurses working in OR recovery even be wearing perfume???

  419. I don’t have any allergic reactions to scents, thank goodness, but my first summer out of high school in 1976 I substituted for the regular employees at a local drug store so they could take summer leave. they were all older women, and at least one of them pretty much marinated in Estee Lauder’s Youth Dew perfume. to this day I absolutely hate the smell of that perfume. at my present employment, there was one area I worked in during the mid to late 80s that had one man working there who also marinated in cologne. you knew he was coming way ahead of time, and knew he’d been there an hour after he’d left, the smell was so strong. someone could walk into the office, sniff, and say “Oh, so-and-so was here recently, wasn’t he?”

  420. Years ago, I was speaking with a few co-workers…one of whom wore a very strong perfume that was making my eyes tear and, I knew, would bring on a headache. I took a small step back, she took a step forward; this happened 2 more times. I finally apologized and told her that I had a problem with scent, that her perfume bothered me a little and that’s why I was stepping away from her (but still in close speaking range.) She hated me from then on and never spoke to me again (nor did her “buddy” at work) unless absolutely necessary for the job.

  421. Unfortunately, my allergies to scents and other chemicals has evolved to MCS. More than likely caused by constantly being exposed to not only the chemicals that people wear on their bodies and laundry detergent/softner ‘scents’ at work, but what they put in their homes. In businesses. In cars. On airline flights. In doctor offices. Sprayed in rental cars. Out gassing of new carpets and construction.
    My reactions are immediate with facial and oribital edema; the inability to think clearly; swollen glands and other physical reactions.
    My employer has a scent policy, but a few persons will/would continue to wear overwhelming scents to the point that I was ‘singled out’ as I was ‘the reason’ that others could not wear their scents to work. Another person had to be to be spoken to by his supervisor as he refused to quit wearing the noxious chemicals. One person that I sat next to would ‘test me’ and she would put a differnect scent on, on various days, to see if it would react to it. On occasion, it would be necessary for me to go home (and lose wages) to recover from the exposure. I would also resort to sending her a polite e-mail; and she thought this was all very funny. I really like her as a person – just not that she wasn’t capable of understanding that MCS is REAL and people really do become very ill in the presence of chemicals, regardless of where the chemicals emanate from.
    My supervisor made a point of ‘making me’ use a fan near my work area to ‘blow’ the scents away from me. She also call in Human Resources to have a talk with me, as they wanted me to wear a ‘gas mask’ to filter out the perfumes – as she stated they could not enforce the hospital wide scent policy in the lab where I worked. These were very embarrassing and humilating experiences for me to be singled out like this.
    At some point, you will be singled out and ‘branded’ as weird or stange for having allergic reactions.

  422. Thank you very much Mr. Anthony Balderrama for writing this article, I personally appreciate what you have done and look forward to reading more of your work.


  423. Thank you for this article. Although I love the way perfumes/candles/air fresheners smell, unfortunately they cause an asthma reaction for me. I have always tried to avoid the over-perfumed people at work, but did have to ask a coworker (who sat by me) to wear less and thankfully she was not offended and did wear much less.

  424. Also, I would like to submit a postscript. It is not that we that are sensitive to chemical ‘scents’ do not ‘like’ certain scents – the point is that these scents make us ill. Therein lays the difference.

  425. To MSS: How about a little compassion and respect for others? It is others’ responsibility as well; especially in a closed environment such as an office. Not to mention the fact that not only is their livelihood at stake, but also their health! Which is way more important than the “right” to wear cologne or other scents! It’s reminiscent of the days when smokers would puff away in restaurants and other public places without any regard for others. We now have laws in place to control that in many states, but sad to say it still doesn’t stop some who INSIST ON THEIR RIGHTS! PFFFFT! What ever happened to common courtesy?? Do unto others as you would like done unto you!

  426. I do like perfume too but yelling in your comment ( writing in all capital letters) is not the way to get the point across.
    I am highly sensitive to almost all perfumes and colognes, no matter the price or name on the bottle. I can understand if you really like perfumes and colognes you love to wear them. Just a suggestion, wear them when not at work or for just special occasions ( dates, weddings etc) or even when your are at home, there you coud wear as much as you want and no one should complain unless you live with someone who is suffering from allergies to scents.

  427. I have asthma. Certain perfumes cause my airways to close up and makes it hard to breathe. I get sharp pains in my chest from the extreme effort to get some air. I am offended by some of the nasty comments. Sure, there are some people who are not really allergic, but just complaining, but for all who are truly allergic it is painful to hear that I am a crybaby. Who knew, breathing was not an option?
    There are some perfumes that just a brief whiff will make me choke. I don’t know what they are, since I can’t exactly ask people what is that stench? I am polite! Also, I don’t dare get close enough to ask. Most of the time, it is people who wear a half a bottle apparently just dumped over their heads.
    There have been incidents of people dying from allergic reactions. Sure, they are rare, but for everyone whining they should be able to wear their stench everywhere and as heavily applied as they wish, would you care if you killed a co-worker? Silly question, obviously not.

  428. I went to the person first and she said it was her right to wear the perfume. I repeatedly asked her to let me know if she was going to be in my part of the building so I could leave or shut the door because just walking by the door her scent made it’s way into my office and I was gasping for air literally. It took action by the HR department to make her stop wearing it. We have friends socially and one night we encountered the same party. I had to run out of the party gasping for air, and I did not even know she came in the door. I’m not whining, I am alerting people to the very real fact that scent allergies do exhist and can become life threatening.

  429. Thank You Cathy, I’m With You On that one. I too have perfect sinus’ and there are some smells that are just not pleasant; I like to think of my self as a polite, considerate, accomodating individual. I was in a situation where im working with an all male crew and my forman came to me and said he had a condition that my perfume(Jessica McClintock) was a trigger for him and asked if I could just tone it down, he never asked me if I would stop wearing it but out of consideration to him I did stopped wearing my perfume all together cause I didnt want to be the cause of some reaction like seizures or migraines from my perfume, he too was polite and waited to say anything to me till we worked together on a regular basis and even then he gave me his schedule for days he wouldnt be at the job site so I could wear it then. I hate it when people get offended if you dont like their scent, I’m thinking really!!! It aint about YOU its the scents!!!AND finally I hate Pichoulli(sp?) its so bad I dont want to breathe

  430. As a person who cannot be around people with sents on I fully undersatand.I have had to get out of a check out line and get in another one because of someone with either body lotions or perfume on. I get a migraine , nausia and vomiting and on some of them loose my voice for a long time.At the hospital where I worked you were not supose to wear perfume, and there was a nurse that worked in recovery room that did when she came on the floor with a patient would see her coming down the hall and would put a mask on that I kept in my pocket One day she asked me why and I said because you wear perfume and I will get a migraine and loose my voice for a while and even with the mask I still get a little of it.
    Then one day I had to have surgery and ended up in recovery room she at least stayed on the other end of the room which helped
    amd spmeone else took me to the room. Don’t know how she got away with it, but do know if the sisters were still in charge of the hospital she wouldn’t be alowed to wear it. It is in the hand book
    but when they use the perfumed lotion and same perfumed powder , and not the perfume they still cause a lot of problems and the worst one is Avon. but if you are allergic to flowers that grow in groups you for sure have a perfume allergy and they are bad so if in a place where people are sick or going to be in a crowed room shouldn’t use these things.

  431. Brenda-most hospitals and clinics have rules that their nurses cannot wear scent. In OR or ICU especially is rude. How annoying to be sick already then have to put up with a nauseous scent.

    Expensive perfumes or cheap perfumes makes no difference. They tend to smell differently depending on one’s normal bodily smells. I had a coworker who always wore an expensive perfume, but it smelled like air freshener on her.

    Another coworker would go do her duty in the bathroom and spray enough air freshener to choke a horse! My windows would be open in below zero weather many times.

  432. Mandy-

    Maybe YOU should go to the doctor and have them prescribe YOU some medicine so that YOU don’t become such a danger to society.

    It’s pretty sad that YOU have to blame others for YOUR condition.

    People shouldn’t have to conform to YOUR needs. The world doesn’t revolve around YOU.

    If the smell is so bad, then don’t work there. If every other work place is so horrible, then file for disability.

  433. Please, let me make this as clear to some of you without offending anyone…

    First, asthma is a REAL and SERIOUS pulmonary disease. A person can die from asthma related triggers. Even medication the doctors give for it, have warnings that the medication could cause severe asthma related deaths. It’s a shame the only people who understand or recognize this, are the ones who have it.

    That said, unless you absolutely HAVE to go to HR at your work place, I would advise against it. We have and “Open Door Policy” where I work/worked, so I used it. I was immediately “released from my duties”, as it was “not to the company’s benefit” for me to continue working with said company.
    I was with this corporation for 13 and a half years, with no misconduct and exceptional reviews. HR is really NOT for the “people”, so don’t risk your livelihood.

  434. Don’t like my perfume, my soap, my laundry detergent, wear a mask. I shouldn’t have to change my behavior for your ailments.

  435. Thank you for publishing this story! AT LAST, some validation for a very real illness! I had been to the ER several times for my Multiple Chemical Sensitivites (MCS) and spent years in search of an answer to make me ‘normal’. Instead I find out, finally, through a wonderful, persistent allergist, that I am sensitive to parabens, a preservative in virtually everything. (Not a true ‘allergy’, as there are no proteins involved, but it can kill you much faster!)
    Also, an interesting note, people with MCS often can smell 1000 times better than ‘normals’. Lucky us.
    To perfume wearers: we don’t even SMELL your perfume before it severely affects us. It is not your CHOICE of perfume, cheap OR expensive that is offensive, but the fact you CHOOSE to wear it out in the public world that terrifies us. The penalty we must pay for your thoughtless or perhaps unknowledgeable choice is the absolutely terrifying feeling of our throats and airways instantly swelling, a condition no amount of Benadryl in the world can help. (Have a friend choke off your air for a few minutes to experience this.) Since I am also extremely allergic to Prednisone, there is no treatment beyond escape for me. The symptoms of bugs running under your skin, and sleeplessness for often 3 days after a perfume exposure makes you wish you could become a hermit.
    An acquaintance of mine suffered a heart attack on the way to the ER after a perfume exposure. Her life has drastically changed, due to one person’s thoughtlessness.
    I am ALL for perfume being outlawed, or regulated, much like speeding motorists. Don’t you all realize your own clean skin has a subtle, wonderful smell? Like sun-warmed raspberries! Try replacing your perfume, and scented products for unscented, and discover a hidden treasure and great secret: you don’t NEED perfume to smell wonderful!

  436. The level of hostility in many of the comments is really surprising. I have sensitivity to certain smells, but I try to keep it to myself for just this reason. Try looking at it this way. Say you’re allergic to shellfish. Would you appreciate someone serving you shellfish and saying “Too bad, I love shellfish, so that’s what we’re having, stop whining and eat it.” That’s what it’s like when someone insists on continuing to use their perfume or cologne or use their air freshener when it makes us sick. It’s an allergy just like an allergy to shellfish or bees or strawberries. Brittany, are you allergic to anything? You can’t “evaluate yourself” out of an allergy.

  437. Sorry, I hadn’t read Bev’s comment. It answered my question about nurses. It also shows that there are always those few people who think that rules don’t apply to them.

  438. I like the subtle fragrances and candles but some of them can be overwhelming no matter what flavor it is!
    I have a sneezing attack when a combination of 2 or more perfumes or colognes mix in the air, I do not know which ones cause it but it happens and I have no control over it!
    I can walk by the candles at the store and be fine until they get overpowering and cause nausea and I have to get fresh air.

    I think an allergic reaction to a specific ingredient in the perfume is the cause and not so much how much is used, but when so much of the allergen is used it caused adverse reactions.

    You know when you go shopping for a fragrance some of them put you off and you say how could anyone wear that junk, well someone else loves it and thinks what you chose is the junk! You know all perfume is cheap, it’s the name and advertising behind it that makes it expensive.

    Also when you put the fragrance on one person it smells good and on another it smells bad, that chemical reaction is your own opinion of what smells good or bad. When its bad its BAD!

    I am also a smoker who quit, and now I seem hyper sensitive to the smell and it gives me nausea when I am around it. I quit cold turkey no help from hypnotism or products to help you quit. SMOKERS Attn: Cologne and Perfume “DOES NOT COVER THE SMOKE ODOR!!” Just because you cant smell it does not mean that everyone around you does not smell it either!

    That just about covers it, Forget the cologne at work, wear it to the bar or with that special someone, a good smelling Deodorant/ Antiperspirant is all that we need, Can you use to much Deodorant? Oh Bathe first!

    Common Sense people

  439. I notice that everyone is talking about the workplace. I am a singer and sing in many choruses. We practice diligently before any concert and each of us wants to sing our best during the concert. Before each and every concert, the same for each and every chorus, the Director instructs that the singers NOT wear any perfume, after-shave or scented deodorant. There is a reason for this instruction. The scents can effect different people in differant ways and you cannot efficiently breath when your throat is closing up.

    I can sing even though I am an asthmatic and am allergic to many scents. When I am effected by a scent, it is the same as if the normal person took the ink supply out of their ballpoint pen and then tried to do all their breathing through the empty barrel. Go ahead, try it while you pinch your nose shut so you force yourself not to cheat. Within a minute you will be gasping for air and notice that your heart-rate has increased, your blood pressure has gone up, you are getting a headache and you are on the verge of a panic attack. You open your mouth and breath normally again but I, on the other hand, am in the preliminary stages of an asthmatic attack and must either go to the hospital for help or die for lack of air. Try that test and then think about the importance of your odor against the probability of my death.

    My sister is troubled with allergies also but with her, if your scent sets her off, she will go into an attack of projectile vomiting. When that person next to you asks that you not wear that scent or perfume, who do you want next to you? Me or my sister? Or is it easier just to go au nautrale?

  440. I too have a high sensativity to chemicals. I tell offending people how much I like their perfume and carry some that I can use. I take mine out and spray my wrists and let them smell…hopefully they too like it. I then offer to let them try it. Once they mix it with theirs, I start coughing. I go “Wow! That didn’t work! I’m so sorry. I had no idea they wouldn’t mix. I won’t wear mine anymore, I guess…or we both could change. Do you have other perfumes, you seem to have such good taste I would oimagine you have several nice ones. Let them rattle off some until they say one you might have and go WOW again and say you have it too.Agree to wear just that one so the 2 of you don’t clash. This has worked for me…just thought it might work for others, too. Good luck!

  441. I could rant on this topic for ages, so I’ll try to pick some of my biggest pet peeves
    – It’s not just cheap perfume/cologne that causes the problems. Different people react to different products, and my migraines don’t seem to care how expensive you perfume is.

    – I don’t actually have to detect the odor to get a reaction. In one place I finally tracked down my reaction to a decoration that was actually a scented oil diffuser. It took forever to figure it out, because it didn’t actually have a strong scent.

    – Just because you can’t see the symptoms, doesn’t mean we aren’t having them. Typically I get migraines in these situations, but recently I’ve had asthma as a side-effect of a medication, and boy does that get a better reaction!! If you’re having an asthma attack people will send you home, and even help you pack your bags. If you say you have to leave because of a migraine, they give you a dubious look and grudgingly let you go.

    And it’s hard to explain to people how much of an impact these sensitivities can have on your life. Elevators are always a tricky proposition, especially in the morning, when everyone has just applied their scents. Going to a friends or co-workers house is another minefield. Chances are they’ve lit scented candles, or used air-freshener or have plug-in thingies in the bathroom. I’ve had to ive up on going to people houses completely.

    Restaurants are usually a safe bet. They don’t use scented candles because they don’t want them to interfere with the taste of the food. Other patrons can be a problem, but I don’t find that happens too often. For me the danger area is the bathroom. Any public bathroom really…. Air fresheners, scented soaps, people applying products, you just can’t avoid it in there.

  442. I also am extremely sensitive to ALL fragrances, not only perfumes but scented laundry detergents, dryer sheets, any petroleum products, hair products, candles, cleaners, and the list goes on and on. I get migraines, severe brain fog, and painful body aches that don’t go away until I sleep it off. I’ve had to leave movie theatres, restaurants, classes, concerts, and social events due to overpowering scents.
    We have enough pollution to deal with people, please stop adding to our environmental toxicity. Fragrances are toxic to everyone; we are the canaries in the coal mines for the world.

  443. One more thing I want to mention is about people who choose to throw comments against the victims here who are only sharing what really is making them sick and receiving support from other victims as well as letting people know. As you can see the list is much longer of victims who do suffer than the people who choose to wear perfumes and feel offended or guilty because people don’t like it therefore they lash out at people.
    I don’t think anyone here is saying there should be a law against and to take away anyone’s perfume as by the sound I guess it’s like asking a robber to give up his gun. I know what I’m asking for and that is to use common sense. When you’re in a confined space with people don’t wear it. Especially in a work environment where people are stuck there 8 hours a day. How selfish is it to tell someone they should get another job if they don’t like it. The perfume is more important than a human being and their skills? Wear it very lightly and if you smell it yourself it’s too strong. Often times light scents are okay but not to the point when people can taste it in the air. Come on! You don’t need perfume to impress someone or is it covering up something. Yes we’re always going to breath in the chemicals of the world no one is denying that either. Until you suffer from these allergies you have no business to criticize or tell us to stop whining. I know there will be a person(s) who will criticize me for this but that’s okay because I’m all done reading the comments. I won’t even know. Thank you to all of you who are so brave and honest to talk about what triggers your allergies. I’m on your side!

    • Sadly the problem is that most people are demanding complete ban not only in the office but at home as well, laundry, hairspray, doederant, shampoo etc
      “Do Not Use” is all to commonly used instead of use less or use half as much etc.

  444. Do you have any allergies? Then you do not know how it can affect your entire day when something triggers your allergy. People can be really be nasty when you tell them that their perfume is causing you breathing problems or giving you a headache. Sometimes, when all else fails, it is necessary to resort to HR or managers to solve the problem.

  445. I too am sensitive to all strong odors, especially chemicaly based ones. Some people are nice about it when you tell the their perfume, cigerettes,etc are giving you a headache or causing difficulty breathing, others can get really nasty about it. I’ve had problems with a citrus based cleaner that they used to clean with at my last job. I had to complain to the manager and they started ordering something else. I also had problems with a coworker who would do her nails in the breakroom because her husband gave her a hard time about the odor at home. She also reeked of perfume at times. Telling her that it gave me a headache or interfered with my breathing didn’t help. She even got mad and quit speaking to me when I complained about her nail strenghtener and had to leave the breakroom so I could breath. I think all work places should have a policy of no smoking ,no perfume,etc .

  446. This brings back some very horrible memories. I used to work in a large, multi-story office building in Anchorage. There were times when I would get on the elevator and an old lady would get on. Sometimes they wold have marinated themselves in some $1.50 per gallon Walmart perfume. by the time we got to the 15th floor, I was ready to die! I would try to hold my breath but no matter what, I would come off that elevator reeking! What can you do when it’s a nice old lady?

  447. I’ve been on both ends of this issue. I had to share a very small office with no windows with a co-worker who wore alot of perfume. All I had to do was tell her that, while her perfume smelled very nice, in our closed in space it was a little too much for me and was causing me to have headaches and feel nauseous. She apologized and stopped wearing the perfume. Another time, I was the culprit wearing too much perfume. When my co-worker told me about her problem, I was only too happy to stop wearing the perfume. In fact, I was grateful to her for telling me, I’d hate to be “that” co-worker whom everyone avoids. I’d rather know up front if I’m doing something to annoy someone so that we can work it out. We all have to work together as a team and get along.

  448. Finally, someone else understands! Maybe there is hope, if we stand together!

    Dispite repeated requests, some of the students on my school bus still refuse to show consideration for those of us with scent sensitivities. The bus is a small, usually enclosed environment and scent fills that space quickly. Sure, my sinuses close up immediatly, but I can breathe through my mouth for the half hour or so these students are on the bus, and I can usually recover from the headache in a few hours. But what about when my eyes swell shut? Driving a school bus with limited vision seems like a bad idea to me. My supervisor thought so too and suspended the three students who sprayed perfume on the bus and tried to light it on fire a few years back. Those three learned a lesson they’ll never forget, but it’s a daily battle with the students who don’t know about that incident.

    People who can’t understand the challanges of others simply don’t want to. Their mocking and lack of campassion are products of their self absorbtion and ignorance. Only by banding together and working hard have folks been able to change societal perceptions throughout history. People with all kinds of limitaions, such as vision, hearing, developmental, and mobility, have enjoyed more freedoms because of people who fought for the rights of themselves and others.

    Secondhand cigarette smoke has been proven to be extremely detrimental, and through numerous successful court battles, states are being forced to step up and implement laws to protect their citizens. Unfortunatly, the battle over scent will end the same way. Some folks are so selfish, they have to be legally forced into common courtesy. Let the lawsuits begin!

  449. I’m actually surprised that since you believe you are “smarter” than the rest of us “monkey suited” people, that you don’t realize that without those of us who “do work” in cushy “non-real” world jobs, your construction jobs would be non-existent. If you didn’t have us needing office to work in, you wouldn’t have much to do.

    Although I work in an office, I am the proud daughter of a man who made his living with his hands. He never once poo pooed the fact that scents caused my mother probelms, but treated the issue with respect. Seems you could use some lessons from my dad.

    • If he did not build offices you would have no where to work?
      no office space to work in means office jobs would be non-existent?

  450. My asthma is triggered by the scent of perfumes, hand lotions, air freshners ect. I brought the problem to my boss and HR. HR made a sign for my office that it is a scent free zone but my boss is great. If someone walks past her office headed for my office she chases them down if she can smell them and tells them not to go anywhere near me since their scent is way to strong and will hurt me. I am not a drama queen but being able to breathe is important. I use scent free items for laundry and unscented soaps and shampoos. My family is very respectful of my needs. In public at times I have had to leave stores, due to someone choosing to leave a trail of perfume.

  451. I completely agree. One of the most annoying things that I have dealt with is cigarette smoke. I have had TONS of co workers that feel it is no big deal to smoke constantly on breaks and lunch. The worst part is – they REEK. I have had sinus infections and migraines from the smoke on their clothes alone. It should be somehow controlled. I did have a manager that would wear a jacket while smoking outside. At least when he took it off, he did not reek of the tobacco odor.

    I also have a co worker that has a terrible scent she wears – it is powerdy and annoying. It does not cause a headache, so I do not mention it. My organization is pretty inflammatory – I do not work with the nicest people.

    I project that I will be gone (hopefully to school) within the year!

  452. Overuse of perfumes/colognes, etc, is more that annoying. For those like me – asthmatic – it can be life-threatening.
    Many fragrances, especially when overused, can trigger an attack. I check my peak air flow daily, take medications to help prevent attacks, but when someone is so heavily doused in scent that it can cling to someone who just walks past the offender, all the meds in the world likely will NOT stop an attack.
    I have no issue with the use of fragrance – in moderation. Howver, those whose fragrance enters the building 10 min. before they do – that’s another story.
    Common courtesy & common sense – if you must use fragrance, use it well before you leave for work so that the heaviest, most intense scent has time to moderate & become more subtle. Using fragrance in layers helps as well. If available, use the soap/body wash, deodorant, powder & just a light spritz of the cologne. Generally, this helps the fragrance last the day without replenishing & is usually not as obnoxious to others.
    Basically, just think before you spritz.

  453. People who cannot handle fragrances at work? What a bunch of sissy kids…….what’s next, the color clothes people wear? If you cannot handle someone’s colon, tell them about it face to face like an adult instead of whining to your manager like a 2 year old girl. Want to know why so many are unemployed these days? A lot of it has to do with employers being sick of trying to accomodate the snot nose generation that gets bothered all day and every day by everything. Employers are finding it more cost effective and easier to do without the “babies” they had and let go during the downturn.

  454. Dear SAT…yes, you are right, I need to paint my walls with low VOC paint, I use unscented detergent to wash my clothes, I cannot go where there is new carpet, or paint and cannot shop in many stores because of the chemicals on the clothing. My life revolves around avoiding many scents and it is difficult but life saving for me to do so. I have lung damage and disease as well as asthma and the fact that you and others like you are so self absorbed as to complain about my speaking up is not funny. Please take just a few minutes to think about what fish out of water look like when they need to be in water to breath and you have a small idea of what I go through when someone wears perfume around me. I just ask that you stop and reflect as to how you might react were you the sensitive one. Thank you.

  455. Wam! Your sinises feel totally impacted, instant cold. Fragrances and scents should be regulated, be it perfumes and colognes or “scented” products. FAT CHANCE. So I just say to those who over indulge—”If you stink so bad that you need half a bottle of perfume, try a bar of soap, it’s much cheaper and the rest of us can breath.”

  456. This is a very interesting article. My mom works in an office where someone is allergic to scents and they’ve been asked not to wear perfume in that particular department. It’s funny though because the same lady who has problems with the smell of perfume, smokes constantly and smells like a smoke stack. I’m sorry, but I would not be sympathetic to her unless she quit smoking!

    • Agree. much like a person with ragweed/polin working for a landscape co. or person with pet dander alergies working in a pet store or a person with scent allergies working in a public access office with the public for customers.
      Hmmm I am allergic to peanuts is the donut shop is hiring.

  457. My daughter has a severe allergy to some scents, and in kindergarten would become physically ill from reactions. However, her teacher refused to stop wearing perfume and I was not allowed to ask other parents if they would use unscented detergents because I would be violating their rights! Even when I spoke to some parents, found out who didn’t use scented products, and then requested that she be seated near these students I was told by the principal that they only thing she would do is have my daughter sit alone seperate from her classmates. The school insisted it wasn’t a real allergy, and therefore I had no recourse unless I wanted to hire a lawyer and sue to establish her rights. Found this to be crazy – especially since you can be sent home there for bringing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in because 2 children in the school have peanut allergies.

  458. Fortunately I am retired now but when I worked in a office I was often assualted by others perfumes. One woman wore Obsession , well she was drenched in it. It gave me headaches, made my nose run and my eyes tear. She would never cut back on her perfume and HR would not help. No mater how nice I asked people they would never cut back on their perfumes. I never wore perfume myself to work. I applaud anyone that can win a lawsuit against a company that allows people to stink up an office.

  459. The issue of chemical sensitivities to perfumes, lotion, colognes etc. is a very serious one, at times life threatening and deadly.
    I worked with a lady who was deathly allergic to perfumes etc. She once spent 3 days in ICU after drawing blood from a patient. MY hospital subsequently established a no fragnance policy.

  460. We had a similar situation in my office. A co-worker decided she was allergic to perfume, but surprisingly, only the perfume of one individual at first. We discovered her allergies seemed based on how well she got along with an individual. It became such a problem that she even accused people of wearing scents even when they weren’t! She frequently wipes down any shared surfaces and spends a great deal of time sucking on an inhaler. One would think these practices would alert the management that she is less productive at her job and far more concerned with her “shows”. We all respect one another’s right to breathe but to be approached and asked not to wear lotion (scented or not!), hairspray, fabric softener and laundry detergent, and even quizzed about the type of cleaning products we use at home is downright RIDICULOUS! This is a public building and to even request that people alter their lives to accomodate one individual is nuts. Look into disability if the issue is that bad and let the rest of the world live their life. Common sense or shall I say common “scents” dictates that the world can be a smelly place. Either deal accordingly or find a nice bubble to live in and stop bitching at the rest of the world.

  461. JB – I am no fool. I completely understand and feel for you and any other sufferers of the condition you’re informing us about. Without knowing me, however, you’re branding me a fool and insinuating that I am not a compassionate person, when the exact opposite is true. Who’s judging, now?

    The point of posting my experience was to relate how such persons can come off to other people, and perhaps help such people better present their problems. Would you not feel it strange behavior for someone to go around sticking her nose in and on office furniture sniffing around PURPOSEFULLY looking for smells to complain about when there aren’t any present? No matter what condition she has, it IS strange/weird/abnormal behavior, and we cannot, as a society, get SO caught up in political-correctness to start thinking otherwise.

    Now, does this mean that she doesn’t truly have a condition? Of course she does! But, at the same time, she IS a super/hyper-sensitive person, and EVERYthing seems to bother her! And this, as much as you might not like it, IS frustrating, confusing and annoying to others, ESPECIALLY when special effort and accommodations have already been made for a person only to have such a person STILL unsatisfied and getting “reactions” to stimuli that AREN’T there. Also, if you think your mind isn’t powerful enough to give you physical reactions to something that you PERCEIVE to be there, then you clearly are ignorant to the powers of the mind.

    Point is, yes, these conditions exist. Yes, people SHOULD be considerate and mindful to sufferers of such conditions. Yes, there isn’t a reason to wear perfumes and colognes and have scented candles and such in a work place. Yes, special consideration SHOULD be made for these afflicted people…but-TO-A-POINT! If YOU are the one who suffers from this to such a high degree, should YOU really expect to change the whole world and impinge on the rights of ALL others in order to accommodate YOUR condition? This is selfish. There are people out there who have other debilitating conditions and realize they are “special” in some way and, therefore, get assistance/worker’s compensation/disability, etc., in order to be home and away from the workplace. Or, they decide to work in an environment that doesn’t expose them to triggers of whatever sort.

    Should a person who is SOOOO hyper-sensitive to scents (one that can even, by your own admission, perceive previously existing odors that have been cleansed away) subject themselves to a working environment where they are constantly sorrounded by people in close proximity (people who bathe regularly and use shampoos, conditioners, soaps, anti-perspirants/deodorants, mouthwash, etc.)? No, right? Do you not consider it selfish of the person to INSIST to work at such a place and INSIST that hundreds of people change their lifestyle completely just to accommodate them? Again, we’re not talking about blatant and egregious use of colognes and perfumes (something that has no place in the workplace). We’re talking about normal products such as shampoos, soaps and underarm deodorants that this floater has, actually, complained about! This same floater, when she sat next to me, actually, complained of my deodorant! I no longer wear cologne, but I do need and use anti-perspirant deodorant. She INSISTED that I buy a special type of organic, odorless deodorant. Excuse me?!? Is that not crossing a line there? Do you really consider it normal behavior to be focusing on another person’s underarm scent? Is she gonna pony up the extra expense of such a deodorant just for me or for others in order to satisfy HER needs? She clearly won’t. In THIS case, if she is THAT sensitive, then she is being outright SELFISH expecting SO many others to make such changes just for her.

    She should either collect some type of disability insurance, get an outdoor job where she is constantly in fresh air, move to India where scented products aren’t popular, or stay home. SHE can make adjustments in HER life where SHE subjects herself to instead of expecting the world to go through leaps and bounds just for her. Should hyper-sensitive people really expect humanity to give up enjoying the pleasures that one of our CORE human senses – the sense of smell – naturally bestows upon us just to accommodate a minority? In this case, the minority needs to make the adjustments and not expect the world to change for them. Should the rest make CERTAIN adjustments and concessions to help? YES! But, again, to-a-point.

    (This all makes me think of how so many places annoyingly and purposefully serve warm coffee, instead of hot – the way it should be – just because there might be clumsy people out there who MIGHT spill the coffee on themselves and then sue the maker for damages. So, because YOU’RE clumsy and don’t have enough common sense to know that coffee’s served hot, the REST of the world should now be dissatisfied with their coffee?)

  462. I am pleased beyond measure to see this article and the people who commented on same. I am an allergy sufferer for years. I have been tested for all types of allergens, i.e. pollen, dust mites, cats, dogs, etc. nothing. However, the one issue I seem to have is an allergy to STRONG cleaners, cleansers, perfumes, colognes, hair sprays, body washes, etc. I buy everything unscented, deodorant, pads, hair spray, toilet paper, etc. My allergist actually has a sign in his office that says DO NOT WEAR PERFUME, COLOGNE, ETC. THIS IS A HEALTH ISSUE. THANK YOU. I wish I could take that sign with me everywhere. I actually told him one day that Jeopardy got it right on the money. The question was “WHAT SHOULD NEVER ENTER A ROOM BEFORE A LADY DOES?” THE ANSWER: “HER SCENT.” Ironically, if you have a peanut allergy, people will say, “aw, you poor thing”. But have a chemical allergy and people say, “are you nuts, you must be faking”, I can’t smell a thing”. My allergist tells me this is something very common. My 69 yr old mother has hyperthyroid disease and this is something she started dealing with approx. 30yrs. ago so it is indeed nothing new. The scents are driven by nitwit corp America who believes everything should be scented, laudry detergent, hair spray, carpet cleaner, etc. After all, they believe you can charge more if it is scented, I guess. If you research perfumes, etc., they were originally created to be more like endorphins, sexual markers, make you seem attractive, so the opposite sex gets closer. However, if the opposite sex can smell you from 8 blocks away, what ‘s the point. He or she doesn’t need to get close. The Axe and their genre commercials are the worst. Not only are parents not teaching their children how to shower, dress and apply scents, but the TV ads show them dousing themselves with the entire bottle. That product is now banned from my home. I say, kudos to the lady who successfully sued and I hope she can now do her job without discomfort. As to Michael & Meurer, are you the type who put down people with diseases that you don’t understand all the time. Because, judging by your comments I see that you don’t understand the disease or the suffering, but nonetheless, still felt compelled to comdemn others for having it. I hope your ignorance and stupidty are curable because I would hate to think you two were just faking it. ;)

  463. I think I have been bothered with this issue my whole life. Next time that small child gets fidgety in the church pew take note, is there a strong fragerance lingering by you?
    Why does the young child come home from school everyday complaining of headaches and feeling ill? When my 4th grade teacher broke her leg and was out for a couple of months, we had a sub. My headaches and oozie stomach went away.
    I have fainted in church, at my own wedding and at a couple of funerals from too many flowers around me..
    i have gotten up and walked out of church. Now, when I go, I sit in almost the last pew for an easy exit.
    If I went to the theater I would pray no one with a heavy scent would sit near by.
    This plagued me for years.
    Then I began taking allergy medicine. Life is great and it is rare that I am bothered with the issue any more:)
    And, no, there is no spell check here. Ii know I have a spelling issue. Thank you.

  464. Obviously, you do not have allergies & have never witnessed someone having a severe attack due to obnoxious fragrances.
    You are lucky. Instead of being rude & nasty, thank God & count your blessings.
    Those of us cursed with asthma have to be wary of shopping where fragranced items are sold – many stores these days, not just at work.
    Heavy,overuse of fragrance by someone in my office, sent me to the ER, unable to breathe. The attack frightened my supervisors & the other co-workers. When I was able to return to work, I learned that several others had allergic reactions to the heavy fragrance, as well, ranging from sneezing to migraines.
    We who suffer are not whiners or crybabies. All we ask is a clean, safe workplace with breathable air.

  465. What I hate the most are the poeple that cover up smoking with perfume thinking that you can’t smell the smoke, come on grow up. If you can’t admit to your smoking at the age of 56 than you need to stop!!

    • did you ever think that maybe they worry the smoke smell offends more and are assuming/hoping the perfume (being the lesser of two evils) will help?

  466. I, too, have problems with people have bad body odor and/also scents of perfume/cologne. Lately, whenever I smell any odor or scent that triggers my allergies or headache, I would then sneeze or get sick to my stomache and gag. This reminds me of where I used to work. Some co-workers don’t even take care of their body hygiene and some use too much of perfume. One time, I went to talk to a Personnel at the Human Resources Office and they did nothing to it. I don’t know how can someone stand of the smell reeking up the work place.

  467. Sorry for the miss spellings but, I also have artritic hands an sometimes I hit the wrong keys!! Sorry if it bothered you!

  468. While I am not allergic to 99% of most smells, I do however have a sister who is extremely allergic to all perfumes, grass (fresh cut grass is the worst), dusts, etc.
    It’s bad enough that she can’t walk into a store if the perfume dept is right at that door and note that most stores have their perfume/cosmetic dept right at one door or another – most often at the mall entrance.

    For me the worst smell is the fresh, real Christmas Trees BUT am I going to tell someone to take it down as I can’t work with the smell..,NO….

    I also used to work with someone who bathed in her perfume and when you are 5 people in a small one room office… it could get pretty bad. Did we step up and say something or go whining to HR…. we took her to lunch and explained the situation.. she was totally oblivious to what was happening and stopped. If she wanted to spray it before she went out that night, she waited and went to the washroom on her way out the door.
    Soon after, her son was diagnosed with Asthsma so this helped.

    Don’t always look to management or HR to solve your problems…. Most people will understand if you are diplomatic about how you approach this problem

    In other words, grow some balls and do your own dirty work!!!

  469. I too am sensitive to fragrance and have a few points to make aimed at people who think we are just complaining. To those of you who think some these “fragrances” are normal and naturally occuring, when is the last time you read the ingredient list on your scented products. For a lot of us this is not a simple fragrance issue but one caused by chemicals used in these products. Personally, there are even some unscented products I am unable to use because of the chemicals they contain.

    I believe that this is not unlike the problems some factory workers develop after long-term exposure to chemicals in their work environment. It is a proven fact that some people eventually develop sesitivities to these chemicals. We, as a society, have become so immersed in scented products that it does not surprise me that so many people have started to have serious adverse reactions.
    Can those of you who think we are all full of crap possibly consider this possibility? If not, think of it this way – I know several people who although not offended by fragrance are offended by cigarette smoke. Both are carried through the air, both contain chemicals that potentially cause physical illness. Frankly, I am tired of feeling like an outcast because I have the audacity to complain to someone about something that causes a physical reaction.

    As to those of you who think we should stop complaining and just quit our jobs so the rest of you can continue to offend I simply say GROW UP. When is the last time you looked at the unemployment rate. And I would also like to know what happened to common consideration for those around you.

    People, myself and millions more like me are PHYSICALLY affected by these prducts, we are not simply complaining, we are concerned for our own health. Would you not complain if one of your co-workers/fellow consumers were doing something that was causing you physical discomfort if there was something that could be done to simply remedy the situation?

    By the way, for those of you who think we are simply “fragrance nazis” and just don’t like scented products. I for one can tell you there are many fragrances that I absolutely LOVE and still cannot be around.

  470. Thank you so much for writing this article. I too suffer from migraines and nausea caused by scents. I cannot be around perfume, cologne, air freshners, hair spray etc… Laundry detergent, shampoo, soaps must be scent free. I had a situation at work where a co-worker and my own boss were wearing heavy perfumes. I explained tactfully and politely how perfumes physcially affected me. They got offended and gave me the cold shoulder treatment. I ended up leaving the team. Our company has a policy that prevents strong scent at work, unfortunately I found out the hard way that people are very selfish and unconsiderate. Reading some of the negative comments from the poeple who wear perfumes, I wish they could walk in my shoes for ONE day and see how disabiliting it is. You would not walk around your workplace carrying a gun, so why would you walk around wearing perfume that may affect others and possibly KILL them….

  471. I empathize with people that have a sensitivity to scents, but I also feel that we all have personal responsibility for our own health. If you have an allergy, it is your responsibility to avoid the allergen… I do not believe that the majority should be banned from any socially acceptable practice for the sake of an individual. Smoking (while legal) has become less socially acceptable, and as a society we are now taking steps to isolate expose to secondhand smoke. Until perfume becomes less socially acceptable, it is an unfortunate fact that sensitive individuals will be exposed to others scents at various degrees. I have a nut allergy- and it is my responsibility to manage it. I have asthma- and it is my responsibility to manage it. I don’t expect those around me to change for me.

  472. Michael, this is the most ignorant comment I have ever heard…not only ignorant but arrogant and self-centered. I will address this one particular comment you made “Most perfumes are the product of nature. If you can’t handle natural aroma how is it you can even make to your car.” Perfumes and body oils are made in a CONCENTRATED formula!! Natural scents are subtle and are handled by most people. Those that have allergies to those natural scents, DO take allergy medicine but those medicines can’t combat the concentrations of perfumes and the like. All these other people commenting here are not trying to control others, but are asking politely for others to be considerate…Please be considerate of others and this world will be a better place!

  473. You are so right for the most part, but in some instances it is a difficult person to deal with, mgt must be called to get involved.

  474. I too suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. I can’t have any perfume, cologne, air freshner, cleaning products, etc. It was a huge issue in my office until I had a violent attack which was witnessed by other staff that finally made them realize the seriousness of the issue, which is possible death. The attorney in the article won a $100,000 settlement which is nothing compared to the article about the radio station worker who sued and won $10.6mil! See the article here:
    In California it is a recognized disability under the Office of Disabilty Employment with the Department of Labor, see: or
    So, for those of you who think this is bunk, start shelling our your millions!

  475. John, I wish you could walk a day in our shoes. I work for the Federal Government and have people working with me that marinate themselves. I asked each repeatedly if they would please at least lighten up on the fragrance due to MCS. They would not. I spoke to HR about not being able to be fully functional because of it, and they told me they could not tell employees to not wear fragranced products. I had to file a complaint, with documentation from my doctor stating that repeated exposure was making my immune system weaker & causing me more bodily harm with the poison building up in my system, before anything was done. When I moved to another office, my new stupidvisor gave me grief again, wanting me to sit in a newly reconstructed area with new carpet, carpet glue, partitions and furniture off-gassing aldehydes,etc. I even wore a canister respirator because the exposure was so intense – little paper masks did nothing to alleviate the problem. If you or one of your children had this problem, you wouldn’t be so quick to say people were whining. It is a fact of life for many people. It isn’t that we don’t like the smell or think it stinks, it is the chemical ingredients in the items that are causing severe reactions.

  476. I understand that people have allergies, migraines and rights but so do I. I like to wear my perfume, use scented soap and deordants. I am a woman and that is just part of my regimen to smell sweet. I think it is rather ridiculous that I have to change who I am and what is part of me. I think society is going too far with all this suing over everything. What will it be next. My children love peanut butter and can’t have that at school. If somebody comes up with milk allergies, chicken or hamburger allergies are they going to stop them from eating totally.

    People have allergies to pet dander, pet hair. We have several dogs, am I or my children to going to be able to go to work or school because somebody has a reaction to that. There are enough things in this world for everybody to have some kind of reaction to everything but you can’t prohibit everything.

    I have allergies to pollen and ragweed. I don’t pitch a fit when my co-workers get flowers sent to them. I just take my medication.

    What if your co-workers have a reaction or allergy to cotton are we going to be prohibited from wearing clothes that contain or are made of cotton. It is just too much.

    There are studies going on now about peanut allergies that show to get over them they (doctors) expose you to very small amounts over a period of time until it no longer bothers you, not totally eradicating it from your system that just makes you even more sensitive.

    • Well put, everybody has something but where do we draw the line? when is enough, enough? I can`t stop feeling I am being punished for being healthy.
      The peanut research is truely amazing I read several articles in the New England Journal of Medicine and a couple from The Mayo Clinic.
      Hopefully the same results can be found with fragrances and scents.

  477. Perfumes, colognes, body sprays and room deodorizers are lethal to my sinuses. Yes, I said LETHAL. And I also get headaches, sore throat, runny nose, the same as me getting subjected to concentrated toxic chemicals. Why do people insist on using these caustic substances is beyond me. I cannot go out in public anymore because of the proliferation of perfumes, candles, incense, and garbage like that!

  478. Matthew above says “American people have become the most pathetic whiney population out there because we are so spoiled”

    Well, seems to me that if DETROIT is so poor, move. As for ‘spoiled’? It’s the people who think they are above everyone else that is spoiled. They think they are too good to inconvenience themselves for the sake of others. You better hope you don’t get someone like yourself, that you’re hoping will save your life in an emergency, or you won’t stand a chance.

  479. Why in this world the merit of one complaint is way too powerful? 100,000 dollar settlement? doesn’t that seem over the top? There are many things in this world that give me a headache, you know what i do? i deal with it. I man up and realize what gives me a headache and what doesn’t. If you can ‘t handle your job or whatever, then find a new one, sueing only perpetuates problems for everyone else. This is a sad selfish world.

  480. You guys who have never had asthma or other breathing problems or allergies are sounding “No, seriously” ignorant. I have asthma and have major issues during Sunday morning church services due to the various fragrances floating around. Not only does it bother my breathing but also causes nausea and headaches. People should really consider others while dousing themselves down. This is as bad as second hand smoke. HAVE SOME CONSIDERATION!

  481. FInally……this is being recognized……….I have had to leave public events because of others perfume or colonge. At times it’s so bad I have trouble breathing and have to run out to get fresh smog filled It causes headaches, nausea, eyes tearing & who knows what else………
    ‘s toxic to breath those chemicals and with articles like these, I sure hope people that wear these scents will have some consideration for others……….
    Natural products do not do that, so hopefully more will start wearing those…………Peace & Blessings to you all.

  482. I understand people having certain allergies to perfumes and scents however there are so many accommodations in the workplace shouldn’t we also accommodate the people who like to wear cologne and perfume?
    At School the children with peanut allergies had to sit at separate tables to be safe, now you can’t even bring any types of nuts to school because one or two children may have an allergy. When will this stop? I am not trying to downplay your allergies, I am SEVERELY allergic to pollen, ragweed, dust, even grass,and some colognes, but i don’t think i have the right to tell someone else because I am allergic you cannot wear this. There is a difference, of course between wearing the whole bottle and a few spritzes, but come on.. the world does not revolve around me and i don’t feel i have the right to tell anyone what to do, smoke, wear scents, etc. Why does anyone else?

  483. Did you ever wonder about those people who get lung cancer and never smoked a day in their life. Well here you go! Don’t think your toxic chemicals are just bothering the guy next to you, consider what they are doing to your own lungs, not to mention your skin and clothes.

  484. 1000% agree, we must have been writing the same reply at the same time.. But .. really.. you hit it on the head..EXCELLENT!

  485. I am bothered by all scents. And people who don’t have this problem just cant seem to understand how it effects those that do have problems.. Allergy pills and medicines just dont work. Everyone thinks that the solutuion, it is not. If people would just tone down their scrents- spray and walk into the mist, dont spray it on you, that helps. Ask your co-workers if a scent bothers them. If so, save it for ocassions outside of work. It doesnt matter if it is cheap or expensive what smells good to you may not to someone else. Flowers are beautiful to some but for me they are posion. I get so naused and light headed and here comes the headache. Think of all the scents a person puts on themselves daily–soap/shampoo/deo/lotions/perfumes/etc and put that all on one person and WOW, it can be over whelming.
    Some people are nice about it if you ask them, some arent. I agree in a business setting dont reapply perfume/cologne during the day. One spray last all day.
    I say good for Lisa she did the right thing. Maybe if more people did this the message would come across.

  486. I too have this ailment. I am bothered by almost all types of fragrance, perfumes, candles, body lotions, even some cosmetic products. I work in a dental practice and we have patients come in that appear to have bathed in thier perfumes and colognes. It immediately gives me a terrible headache and in some cases will cause me to vomit. One of my co-workers feels it is her right to wear perfume and it was only after many conversations with her that she has stopped wearing perfume to work. I explained to her that it makes me sick and she obvioulsy didn’t care about my health if she was to continue wearing fragrance, she grudgingly agreed. I have repeatedly asked my boss to post a sign requesting our patients to refrain from wearing fragrance to thier appointments but he is concerned that we will offend someone. What about offending me?

    Thanks for adressing this I will be printing your article and displaying it for our patients to see.

    • Sorry but did you say,“I am bothered by almost all types of fragrance, perfumes, candles, body lotions, even some cosmetic products“ but chose a job in a public office dealing with public people in public places, publicly?
      I agree working almost anywhere would be severe enough for you, but you deliberatly chose a job that would double or triple the severity of your ailment?
      providing service directly to the public.

  487. Maybe your TIRED because you are haveing a reaction to your perfume! You stated “There are studies going on now about peanut allergies that show to get over them they (doctors) expose you to very small amounts over a period of time until it no longer bothers you”. The problem with that is, people who are sensitive to fragrances, etc, even the smallest exposure tirggers the sensitivity, and the more exposure, the more the reaction. One day, something may not bother me, and the next day it does. The chemicals attack my central nerveous system and cause extreme irritability, aggitation, moodiness, anxiety, shortness of breath, and possible DEATH. If it were you or your child, you would understand. It is like being under water and not being able to breath!

  488. Great article! Chemical sensetivities/allergies are real. We are a chemical dependent society. Chemicals are everywhere and in/on everything. I, recently, had a severe breakout on my forearms and fingers that resembled a rash. I also had severe congestion in my chest, coughing, plugged sinuses, imflamed liver/small intestine. I had no idea where it was coming from, until I started seeing an Acupuncturist Physician/ Holistic Detective 3 months ago. We found chemical allergies to herbicides/pesticides, and most recently to petrochemicals(dry cleaning solutions, gas, diesel, pvc piping, formaldahyde).We even traced it to the hallway of my workspace. I discovered that it was the cleaning solution(Murphys Oil Soap) that was causing my symptoms. I am being treated to clear these sensetivities/allergies using traditional and laser acupuncture. It has been a godsend and my symptoms and rash are disappearing. There is hope out there to rid your body of the sensitivities/allergies. You just have to find the right person(s).

  489. Imagine being allergic to chemical scents/perfumes and being stuck in an office bathroom drenched in chemical air freshner — your eyes start to burn and you can feel your sinues starting to swell and throb as the chemicals attacks your membranes. I have the same reaction from the chemicals in scented hand lotions, which seems to be even stronger than the chemical dispersal of perfume/cologne. Over the years, when needed, I have explained the problem to co-workers and asked them for their help, and so far, all of them have kindly given up the scented stuff, thank goodness. As for the air freshners in the bathroom? I just wait until no one is around and throw them out.

  490. Where I work we have people (not myself) that have allergies to scents. There is a sign on the front door of the office asking people who come in for meetings to please not wear perfumes, colognes, after shaves, hair care products with scents to them, etc. Also it states in our employee manual that this is a “scent free work place.” I also have a best friend who has asthma so she can’t be around scents either. So I can’t wear it at work or outside of work. So I have a ton of bottles of perfumes just sitting on my dresser that I haven’t worn in years just cause of these reasons. But its ok cause I’ve actually gotten used to not wearing them.

  491. I am usually not an inconsiderate person, I wear lotions rather than perfume. One of my favorites gave an assistant manager headaches. As a courtesy to her I didn’t use that one when we were working together, I would use one that didn’t bother her. The problem I have with this lawsuit and most of the comments is this. I am allergic to grass and when my neighbors cut their lawns I have a severe reaction. My sinuses swell so badly that my teeth and jaws hurt, it also triggers my asthma. I have yet to find any medications that help. Staying inside does not help, I still have a reaction. So, should all of my neighbors have to remove their lawns? Or should I sue my city for allowing people and parks to have grass?

  492. I for one do not have any allergies to perfumes, but can understand the problems some people do. There are some perfumes that I don’t like the smell of, couldn’t tell you what they are. haven’t been rude enough to stop the person and ask them what they are wearing!! Don’t seem to mind the ” Old lady perfumes” More of the cheap young peoples perfumes/aftershaves, etc!
    So for all of you out there that complain about the old lady perfumes, here’s one old lad