Scent Awareness

Kwantlen Polytechnic University and the organizations which represent students, faculty and other employees support the efforts of Kwantlen’s Occupational Health and Safety Committees to promote a Scent Awareness program at all campuses.

What is the issue?

Exposure to perfumes and other scented products can trigger serious health reactions in individuals with asthma, allergies, migraines, or chemical sensitivities.

Fragrances are found in a wide range of products. Common scented products include perfume, cologne, aftershave, deodorant, soap, shampoo, hairspray, body spray, makeup and powders. Examples of other products with added scents include air fresheners, fabric softeners, laundry detergents, cleaners, carpet deodorizers, facial tissues, and candles.

We generally think that it is a personal choice to use fragrances; however, fragrance chemicals are by their very nature shared. The chemicals vaporize into the air and are easily inhaled by those around us. Today's scented products are made up of a complex mixture of chemicals which can contribute to indoor air quality problems and cause health problems.

Some of these fragrance chemicals are known to be skin sensitizers. Some are also respiratory tract irritants, and can trigger asthma and breathing difficulties. Asthmatics commonly cite fragrances as initiating or exacerbating their asthma. Fragrances are also implicated in vascular changes that can trigger migraines in susceptible individuals. Individuals with chemical sensitivities can experience symptoms at very low levels in the air, far below those known to cause harmful effects in the general population.

Susceptible individuals can experience a variety of symptoms, including headache, sore throat, runny nose, sinus congestion, wheezing, shortness of breath, dizziness, anxiety, anger, nausea, fatigue, mental confusion and an inability to concentrate. Although the mechanisms by which fragrance chemicals act to produce symptoms are not yet understood, the impact on all those affected can be quite severe, resulting in great difficulty in work and study activities.

Working Towards A Scent-Reduced Environment

In order to protect those individuals with fragrance sensitivities and to possibly prevent others from developing such sensitivities, the University is asking for voluntary cooperation towards a scent-reduced environment. Faculty, staff, students and visitors are strongly encouraged to avoid or reduce the use of scented personal care products. This is a request to voluntarily refrain from chemical-based scented products, and not a ban on scented products.