Fragrance in Places of Worship


It’s especially important to minimize the use of fragrances in places of worship because so many people whose lives have been turned upside down by the gradual or sudden development of strong reactions to fragrances want to seek solace in their church, synagogue, or mosque. One such person is a man named Michael, who became chemically sensitive after running a very large pesticide company. His full story, as it appears in my book Casualties of Progress: Personal Histories from the Chemically Sensitive, will constitute my next post. Michael can be seen in my first documentary, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: How Chemical Exposures May Be Affecting Your Health, which was endorsed by Bernie Sanders. (View this documentary on either of the websites in the right column.) In the excerpt below Michael describes the problems he encountered at his church:

Judy and I’ve always gone to church. In fact, on our first date we went to church before we had dinner. We used to live not very far down the street from this little church. We got married in that little church, and we had both our children baptized in that church. When I started getting sick, before I realized what was going on, I noticed that when I went to church I would be really ill by the time the service was over, if I could even make it through the service. Sometimes I literally had to stumble out of church because I felt so ill. I thought I had done something bad and I was just paranoid about sin or something and God was throwing me out of church. I really was concerned about what was going on. I had no clue what the problem was. Now I miss going to church so much, and every once in a while I’ll try it, like just yesterday, for example, I tried going to church and I did manage to make it through the service, but I was really, really sick for about three or four hours afterwards. I was fine when I got there, but about halfway through the service some woman came in late and sat down a couple of rows in front of us. The eau de whatever she had on—she smelled beautiful, but I could not handle it. I managed to stay through the service, but I was extremely mentally confused by the time I got out of there and just real foggy and it didn’t clear until after lunch. It’s upsetting not to be able to go to church and not to be able to attend other functions, but church is especially bad because everybody gets all gussied up to go there.