|Oh, grow up. I'm not talking about this!|
Scent pollution is a serious health problem. In the last ten days, Mr. Sprockets and I have been forced to leave several establishments where we of course wanted to be due to overpowering horrible odors coming from patrons and the establishments themselves. I elaborate.
1. The library. We no sooner step in that I'm aware of an overpowering odor of "L'Air Du Stink," also known as "I bathed in it." A woman had walked by me at a distance of no less than 15 feet, and in her wake she left a toxic cloud. My stomach turned over. My tongue began to tingle. Next to me, Mr. Sprockets started coughing and could not stop. We had no choice but to leave.
2. Our optometrist. After waiting two weeks for an appointment to try to determine why the glasses they made me didn't seem right, we were punched in the the face by a cloud of Death Gas in the waiting room. "What is that smell?" we asked. "Smell?" the receptionist inquired politely, her olfactory sense obviously reamed out and scarred by constant inhalation of VOCs. "Oh, you mean our French Vanilla Serenade Plug-In! Don't you like it?"
Like it? Sister, do you know what's in that stuff? The thing does plug in (and is a fire hazard, but that's another subject) but there is nothing even remotely French or vaguely vanilla about it, and that ain't no serenade.
Studies have shown that the scent of about 95% of all scented products - and that includes perfumed, candles, washing powders, dryer sheets, cleaning products and all cosmetics - is derived from petrochemicals. Oil. Bubbling crude. Texas Tea. Brought to you by the makers of gasoline. The only exceptions to this are cold-pressed essential oils. And some of them are overpowering, as well. If a smell makes me nauseous, it's not good for my health.
That's right, and if most of you want to smear it on your bodies, or eat it, or wear it, or whatever, I guess it's a free country. Until it becomes my air you're polluting, and that's where your freedom stops. Because the crap you're spewing into my air goes into my nose and my lungs and my brain. Studies have shown these VOCs are often more dangerous than second-hand cigarette smoke. Google it.
We left the optometrist after making an appointment for next week, when they will have presumably taken steps. . .like what? The office windows don't open. The VOCs have permeated the upholstery, the carpet, the drywall. Their decision to allow this pollution means that I have two choices - breathe it in some form or find another office.
In response to continual and pervasive scents, we've had to modify our behavior somewhat. The local Jo-Ann Fabrics puts their faux cinnamon-scented pinecones in the lobby area, between the two sets of sliding doors. This allows them to build up such an amazing volume of VOCs that I can smell them 15 feet from the front of the store when the doors are closed. So we hold our breaths coming and going. Still, the crap gets on our clothes and in our hair and on our skin. . . .and it's poison. Apparently (and you can Google this too) employees at various branches have complained about their constant exposure to this rank and unhealthful miasma. Not only has Jo Ann not reacted with sensitivity and compassion, but this year the pinecones were placed in our local store in mid-September, and will no doubt remain there until well after the new year.
Many employers are adopting scent-free workplace policies after complaints by suffering employees. There have even been lawsuits, because some unreasonable people don't want to be forced to find another job because of a coworker's stench. I don't know how an employer could guarantee a scent-free workplace, especially when the employer is always painting and putting down new carpet while people are working. While it's entirely possible to mandate that employees not wear scent, what about the scented washing powder they use, and those abysmal dryer softener sheets? What about acrid and poisonous dry cleaning fumes? Scented moisturizers, cosmetics, etc.? Few people are willing to forgo their scents.
Here at Sprockets Inside, we live a scent-free life. We've had to, because of my multi-chemical sensitivity and Mr. Sprockets' allergies. And that works for us until we go out into the stinky, stinky world. It's a world where, by and large, people do not understand about scent pollution and act like we're completely out of our tree when we object to it. These people are inured to smell, as most of us were at one time. Being desensitized, they use more and more of it. They buy cinnamon-scented pinecones at Christmas time - which do not contain cinnamon at all, but rather a blend of chemicals which is highly toxic to pets and children, and therefore to all of us.
I'm testing a new mask to wear when I go out. In fact, I'm wearing this lovely prototype now as I type. I sure hope I don't call attention to myself, but if it makes small children run away screaming I'll be pleased.