Sense of Smell

Monday, June 12, 2006

Sense of Smell

As a former firefighter I have an excellent sense of smell. I understand that there is a problem with the over use of different fragrances and a lack of common courtesy related to it. Smell is one of our senses for a reason; not only to warn us but also to bring us pleasure.
Facts: Around 15 per cent of Canadians suffer from breathing problems and many scents can trigger asthma attacks. 2 per cent of Canadians have skin allergies for a variety of chemicals used in the production of perfumes and other types of hygiene products. Some of the fragrances are actually toxic.
The number of people having allergies and asthma keeps growing, but the current mania for banning things has gone too far. What about people who are allergic to weeds; should we ban all weeds? Some people are allergic to animals and others get asthma attacks due to the smog in summer. I am asking what will we do for these people who suffer because their neighbour has a cat or commercial diesel vehicles have created too much smog?
We need to also remember that some perfume scents have influences on our self-confidence, they can make you calm or exited, even cure migraines. Scents are used in medicine. Perfumes are thousands years old, since humans learned how to use a fire (from Latin "per fumum" means “through the smoke”). Egyptian Cleopatra used scented flowers before she went to bed; aroma triggered good dreams.
Of course too much scent is overpowering and should be used in small doses as a common courtesy to others. An obvious solution would be to use an unscented variety, but I personally prefer the scent of soap or other hygiene products instead of the ‘natural’ smell in public washrooms. I, like others would prefer to live in a city of some fragrance as opposed to the aroma of some-one who has not had the opportunity to bath right after work. If we remove by law, all fragrances, I will vote for an appendix to this motion in which I would ask to penalize those who do not use soap and water often.
I have allergic symptoms, so I am sensitive to everyday things such as cold air. In this situation should I ask to turn off all air-conditioning units? No, what I do instead, I try to avoid being close to a/c device. Most of the scent-sensitive people seem to have other control issues or they would try to avoid the triggers when they can.
In my opinion, educate children and adults about the consequences of fragrance overuse should be the first important step. I believe that for any private meeting a subtle touch of perfume can be perfectly fine. We can consider eliminating these most toxic flagrancies that cause breathing problems. We should also enforce all rules we already have related to our hygiene, such as shower before entering a public swimming pool.
Citizens’ committee proposed three phases to make Ottawa Scent-free:
Public education and (voluntary reduction).
- Excellent.
Ban in all city buildings, transit, sport, and community centers.
- Unpractical, but the switching of cleaning products to an unscented type can be easily done.
City-wide bylaw banning scents in all places open to the public.
- This phase is impossible to enforce.
In conclusion, living in a smell free environment would be really boring and a ban on scented products in public places would open the door to bans on many other things.
I have allergies myself and so does my son, who for the past half year has been taking allergy shots every week. I really do understand the position of people who complain against some kinds of chemicals that are contained in the perfumes or hygiene products. However, at the same time I think banning perfumes or nice scented products is against the majority of the population, and appropriate education in this field with some restrictions should be enough to reduce usage and make a suitable compromise.


At 8:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed, Completely! Good work for saying what so many of us think, and so many are afraid to say.


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