Toxic Air Alert

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This is an article from the latest State of Wisconsin, Department of Workforce
Development Bulletin, Week of May 3-7, 1999 #146:


Toxic air alert

What's in the air we breathe at the office? The following toxic chemicals are found in fragrances: toluene, ethanol, acetone, formaldehyde, limonene, benzene derivatives, methylene chloride and many others known to cause cancer, birth defects, infertility, and nervous system damage. These chemicals evaporate into the air we breathe in our offices. Therefore it is NOT a personal matter when a person wears a fragrance to work. These chemical fragrances are found in laundry and cleaning supplies, soaps, hair products, lotions, etc. Chemicals also enter the air through carpeting, paint. 100% of the fragrance samples examined by the US Environmental Protection Agency in 1991 contained Toluene which has been proven to cause cancer and is classified as hazardous waste!! (EPA's Code 40.) Nearly one-third of the chemicals used in perfumes and other scented products are known to be toxic. Fragrance is becoming a workplace issue because there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people who are made sick by these toxic chemicals. Over exposure or prolonged exposure to these chemicals is creating a growing group of workers who are chemically sensitive. Here are the symptoms that may be experienced by workers who are chemically sensitive: exhaustion, vomiting and stomach pain, body aches, dizziness, hay fever, headaches, rashes, swollen lymph glands, asthma attacks, neuromotor dysfunction, seizures, and loss of consciousness. Please know that the issue is not that these individuals find your fragrance unappealing. They are becoming ill from the chemicals that are evaporating from it. In Ohio, the Industrial Commission awarded a woman $400,000 from her employer because she developed serious asthma and respiratory problems from new-carpeting fumes in her office (New York Times, 2/22/98). The next time a co-worker tells you they are becoming ill because of fragrances, take them seriously. You may find yourself with chemical sensitivity at any time.

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