Re: Re: multiple chemical sensitivity, fragrances
From: Becky Weaver (
Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2005 14:18:16 -0700 (PDT)
Thanks for everybody's input on this!
To clarify the situation our group is looking at - we have a potential member 
who can't breathe in the same room as someone who has used any fragranced 
laundry products. Other personal care products can also cause problems. This is 
not an issue of perfume, incense, potpourri, and Lysol - all of which we feel 
are very reasonable to keep out of common spaces - but of *any* product that is 
not totally fragrance-free. 
So, we are discussing whether to ask people to agree to switch to 
fragrance-free laundry & personal care products when they become members. This 
would not only affect what we use in the common house, but what everyone uses 
at home. 
This person has had *very* difficult time, since she can hardly go anywhere 
other people go without experiencing breathing problems. She can only attend 
meetings in her own home or outdoors - our other members' houses make her ill, 
even the ones whose owners have conscientiously switched to fragrance-free 
everything. She can tolertate some public spaces for varying amounts of time. 
It's hard to predict ahead of time if someplace that was OK last time is going 
to be OK next time.  
We do not have consensus within our community about how much accommodation we 
can make. I've gotten feedback from associate members who feel that making 
rules about laundry soap is too extreme. (Again, this is not laundry washed in 
the common house - this is anything that anybody wears at a community event.) 
Other people don't have a problem personally making accommodations, but feel 
uncomfortable asking other people to do so. 
I realize that the question "what's reasonable" or even "what's feasible" is 
completely dependent on the people involved. But it is helpful to me to hear 
what other groups have done, what's worked for them, and what hasn't. 
And we haven't even started talking about construction materials yet...
Becky Weaver
Central Austin Cohousing

Lynn Nadeau <welcome [at]> wrote:
I am asthmatically allergic to fragrances. In deference to me and other 
users of our common house (members and public), we do not allow incense 
or scented candles, smudge, or other intentionally fragrant objects in 
the CH. I have personally replaced the Dial-type soap in the bathrooms 
(for one thing "antibacterial" soaps are bad for the environment in so 
many ways it's a wonder the FDA hasn't pulled them yet; my recent food 
handlers' training started with a talk on the evils of antibac soap). I 
did so because the smell gags me, but also because there are people 
(including one in the neighboring Eco Village, which sometimes meets at 
our CH) who could be laid up in bed by walking in on such fragrances. The 
EcoVillage has an official policy that the common spaces there will not 
use fragrant products, and be fragrance free. 

My neighbors have seen me go into a wheezing fit enough times that they 
get that they just CAN'T in good conscience wear fragrances. 

At the very least, it would be great if coho common spaces could all be 
fragrance free, in terms of incense, potpourri, smelly cleaning products, 
gardenias and stargazer lilies too. 

I believe that we "canaries in the mine" are a clue that such stuff isn't 
really good for anybody. As we breathe more and more pollution, over the 
years, people's allergy threshholds will lower. And it's cumulative. 

The bad news is that lots of good people still don't get it. I keep 
running into people who adamantly claim I couldn't be not-breathing 
because of their all-natural organic, fair-trade, essential oils of 
sandalwood, patchouilli, and rose.....but I'm allergic to those too.

The good news is that this is changing. More and more workshops, schools, 
and even the Seattle Opera are announcing no-perfume policies. I applaud 
those who at least take steps to raise this awareness -- thanks!

Lynn Nadeau, RoseWind Cohousing
Port Townsend Washington (Victorian seaport, music, art, nature) (very active peace movement here- see our 

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