Educating State Legislators About Fragrance-Free Policies


In February the Chemical Sensitivity Foundation sent the following letter to every member of the California Senate and a similar one to every member of the California Assembly. As funds become available, we will send letters like this to all the members of various state legislatures, beginning with states like New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut that are, like California, more likely to consider our suggestions. We welcome donations earmarked for your state, whether to cover part of the cost or all of the cost of about $1 per member of your state legislature.


Dear Senator:

You and your staff members are probably already aware that many Americans are now reacting to fragranced products that they encounter in the workplace, apartment buildings, public events, and places of worship. Enclosed are ten cards for my latest documentary, Fragrance-Free Workplaces, which I hope you will distribute to key staff members.

My Fragrance-Free Workplaces video documents the plight of the rapidly increasing number of people who have to drop out of the workforce because they cannot find a job where they will not encounter exposure to fragrances that cause them debilitating symptoms such as migraine headaches, asthma attacks, or dizziness.

Widespread fires in California with the accompanying exposure to smoke and fire suppressant chemicals will inevitably lead to a growing incidence of fragrance sensitivity and multiple chemical sensitivity, so I would urge legislators to consider the following points or courses of action:

  • Restricting in nursing homes the use of air fresheners and fragranced cleaning products that can provoke migraine headaches or serious or even fatal attacks in asthmatics and others with compromised breathing.
  • In June 2009 the CDC put on its internal website an Indoor Environmental Quality Policy that banned the use of fragranced products such as air fresheners, scented candles, incense, and scented cleaning products in every CDC facility in the country. There is much to be said for implementing this policy in government buildings and in the communal areas of public housing.
  • As major cuts to the Medicaid program and Section 8 housing are occurring, fragrance-free policies are especially important to enable as many people as possible to remain in the workforce so they can afford to pay for health care and housing instead of being left with little choice but to seek public assistance.
  • Exposure to marijuana smoke is a major problem for people who have become sensitive to fragrances and who in many cases have developed the condition known as multiple chemical sensitivity. Legislation to clarify that secondhand smoke policies apply not only to smoking tobacco but also to smoking pot would improve the health of these people and all Californians.


                                                                        Alison Johnson, Chair                                                                                                                              Chemical Sensitivity Foundation