Re: Re: multiple chemical sensitivity, fragrances
From: Racheli Gai (
Date: Mon, 1 Aug 2005 07:10:00 -0700 (PDT)
Hi Becky,
My opinion is that while it would be great if everyone gave up on fragranced products, it's quite unfeasible to expect it at this point in time especially regarding what people do in their own homes. In my judgment, this is more of an intrusion into people's personal zone that most can tolerate. Remember that this also creates a precedent: Once the community tells people that they can't
use any fragrance in their home, what will be next?
I actually doubt that even in Eco-villages people get told whether they can use incense and such in their private dwelling... (If I'm wrong on this, perhaps someone can let me know).

I'd like to reiterate that I'm all in favor of communities making efforts to accommodate handicapped people in common spaces - and MCS is a handicap. (ie: This is an issue of accessibility). In reality, though, it's not easy to convince people to pay attention even on this level. There are always those who don't think the problem is "real", and who see any limitation as an imposition.


On Jul 29, 2005, at 2:18 PM, Becky Weaver wrote:

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

Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:

Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.