Olfactory Trespassing

Perfume, deodorant, laundry detergent, hand lotion, soap, shampoo, dryer sheets, hand sanitizer, potpourri, scented candles, air freshener. What do these products have in common? Artificial fragrance made from endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Olfactory Trespassing

For those of us with autoimmune disorders or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), the products above can do more than just ruin our day. They can ruin our health.

The Toxicity of Everyday Products

Most of these chemical fragrances contain endocrine disrupting chemicals which may lead to cancer and interfere with immune system function too.

I’m a Hugger

I love hugging people. I’m a hugger! But there’s nothing worse than hugging someone and having the chemical fragrance from their perfume of cologne stay with you all day. It stains my clothes and doesn’t come out in the dry cleaning. The stuff has staying power.

Losing our Sense of Smell is Making us…

All of these scented and perfumed products are so strong that we are losing our sense of smell. It’s like listening to loud music blasting through a speaker. Soon one cannot discern softer sounds.

Lose our Sense of Taste

What is the most integral component of our sense of taste? It’s our sense of smell. If you can’t smell, you basically can’t taste your food. This can lead to food cravings, a lack of satiation, and unsatisfied hunger.

Solutions for Scented Times

The soap provided in most, if not all, of the alternative practitioners’ offices, that I go to is perfumed with artificial fragrance. Even the exercise studios I go to do not provide unscented soap. Because of this, I carry a bottle of hand sanitizer with me.

Traveling Scent Free

When we travel and stay in a rental, I bring my own hand soap, dish soap, dishwasher detergent, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, laundry detergent, and cleaning products. This provides my family with a scent free environment.

Why Can’t We Smell Like Humans?

I’m trying to figure out what our cultural obsession is with not smelling like humans –what do you think?

Is Your Home a Scent-Free Zone?

What’s the point of eating all of this organic food while slathering our bodies in layers of chemicals? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

We have a right to our air being chemical free. Thank you for a great article!


126 responses to “Olfactory Trespassing”

  1. I have had chemical sensitivity for years, since I was a teenager. I just never realized what it was. I have a really hard time with certain scents people wear, sharpie marker smells, cigarette smoke, smog from cars, certain air fresheners, lysol spray, bug spray, oven cleaner, list goes on. I cannot use hand sanitizer either. One day at work I used a lotion someone left for the ladies to use in the restroom and I got a migraine headache from the scent. I have to be very careful with smells. It is inconvenient, but I have learned to protect myself from smells by staying away or covering my face when possible to avoid smelling them.

  2. It’s not just olfactory trespassing, the chemicals trespass into our entire bodies and can cause serious, disabling effects.

    Over 34% of the population now experience adverse effects from exposures to fragranced products. For people with MCS/ES, the adverse effects can even be life threatening.

    Many of us are housebound now because of the prevalence of fragranced products (and other toxic stuff that they cover up).

    Unfortunately the essential oil pushers have jumped onto a frenzied opportunity to push EOs as a safe alternative BUT they are NOT benign or safe! Especially for people with MCS, MCAS/MCAD, asthma, allergies, etc.

    They emit VOCs that react with and form other harmful pollutants. Some are also endocrine disruptors.

    They are NOT appropriate for use where there are fragrance-free policies. Their use has created new accessibility barriers where none used to exist.

    If they are used medicinally, they should never be forced on others who may not need that kind of medicine or may need to avoid the pollutants they create.

    Once we become chemically injured and “sensitive”, even fragrance-free products can cause disabling effects. Many conventional f-f products are as toxic as the fragranced versions (check out tide free, gentle, pure products on EWG) and all fabric softeners and dryer sheets, both fragranced and fragrance-free cause severe adverse effects and prevent far too many of us from being outside or opening windows.

    Gain just released a commercial for their new product that makes fun of people who get sick or are disabled by it, saying “Hey, you can’t float everyone’s boat” when a parcel delivery person almost vomited from the Gain, and the homeowner shrugs and walks away, in effect telling people that it’s ok to harm others!!! SO darn wrong!

      • You’re welcome. I fell into the rabbit hole of being disabled from exposures in 1994, after being ‘sensitive’ since the 70s, thinking it was just normal that not all products agreed with everyone. I’ve had to do a lot of research over the years, and I share what I can with others who have fallen through the cracks on the seriously “sensitive” to pollution site and on fb.

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Elana, and for all you do. I bring pillowcases with me when I travel because I often find that hotel and AirBnB linens are washed with scented detergent. Sleeping with a scented pillowcase under my head (or with one next to me, under my husband’s head) gives me an instant headache!

    • Hello, I have found when traveling that I do best when I have a room that has a balcony door that can open for fresh air, so I can get fresh air into the room to get the dry, air fresher sprayed air out of the room. Sometimes there is not a way to stay in a room like this, but if possible, it sure does help!

    • Karen, thanks for your brave comment here! I appreciate hearing an array of opinions on this and other matters :-)

  4. You raise an interesting question about why we can’t just smell like humans. This is something I have truly wondered for some time. People didn’t used to take daily showers or use soap or shampoo all the time. This makes me think that they had quite a strong body odour, like many animals do. What puzzles me is that the smell of an unwashed human is quite bad. If this is our natural scent, why do we find it so unpleasant? I know I do.
    This is not to say we should cover it all up with artificial fragrances. I’m just wondering why our “ancestral” smell is offensive to us.

    • I wonder if the odor that is so offensive is due to all the chemically laden, non-organic foods that we consume. We sweat as a means of detoxing and we are sweating out some nasty stuff because we haven’t eaten “clean” for years. Perhaps after changing our diets and topically applied products and doing a little detoxing, we may actually have more of a neutral odor?

  5. Hi there,

    I have been reading all the comments and understand how serious this issue is. I am trying to implement healthier choices into my lifestyle but really enjoy fragrance. I’ve worked in the beauty industry for years and feel that fragrance is a part of my life that I enjoy so much. What do you do if you like fragrance?


    • Lori, thanks for your incredibly transparent comment! Have you tried essential oils? They do not contain the cancer causing chemicals that fragrance contains.

  6. This has been such a major issue for me as well. I recently was introduced to an incredible product and company that has transformed all of my cleaning and scent issues. The company is Norwex. Over the past few months I have transferred everything over to using Norwex products, amazing stuff. It is sold at home parties and the demos will blow you away how powerful the products are. No more scents or harmful chemicals for anything. Check it out.

  7. Abercrombie & Fitch stinks their stores up so much the whole wing of the mall is a no-fly zone for me. I’m always amazed the malls let them do that.

  8. Right? I can’t even go in my backyard when the neighbours on both sides of me or doing their laundry stinky chemicals. I also love to hug but I find myself taking a step backwards now when people approach me. Not very nice. As for traveling, you could consider just bringing a bottle of Bronner‘s liquid soap or Castile soap. It will do all of those jobs.

  9. While I’ve made our home a scent- and chemical-free zone, my frequent work travels mean lots of exposure beyond my control. I’ve had to learn which hotels to avoid because they use so much air freshener you can taste it – it happens in budget and luxury brands alike. I immediately get headaches and wake up fully congested and with a sore throat. I’ve had to request that canisters be removed from automatic dispensers at several hotels. On airplanes, I just pray that my seatmate isn’t wearing perfume, cologne, or a heavy dryer sheet user because there’s just no escape. Traveling more than 50% of my time, it’s too much exposure and I’m realizing I may need to find a different job, which is really unfortunate.

    • Angela, I love that you said sometimes there is so much air freshener you can TASTE it. I totally agree. It is so sad how the pervasive use of chemicals is affecting so many of us and how we are able to show up in this world. I hope you’ll keep me posted on how you’re doing :-)

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