Chemical Sensitivity: Even the grocery store makes you sick.

Eighty to ninety percent of fragrance mixes are toxic. People spend extra buying organic food and bottled water that they hope doesn’t contain chemicals, yet they put toxic chemicals on their skin via lotion, deodorant, dryer sheets, perfume/cologne, and this gets absorbed into their system. They also spray it into the air via air fresheners, and this gets into their system as they breath it. Chemical Sensitivity is a sickness so serious that it is covered by Social Security Disability. The following was written by someone with Chemical Sensitivity.

I have suffered from chemical sensitivities for 13 years and it has impacted every aspect of my life.

I do my best to improve my immune system — I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on this—but still, it takes just one passive and unsuspecting inhale of air that contains the tiny molecules of cologne or scents from laundry dryer sheets to ruin an otherwise nice day.

This doesn’t only happen in offices. It happens walking down the street or even a hike in the woods or going to an outdoor event. Mostly, I avoid  conferences, theater, movies, etc—so imagine how this limits enjoyment and opportunity of life. 

It is really hard to make it through the day when living day-to-day  and facing health-threatening situations become synonymous with each other–because people wearing toxic scents show up unexpectedly in all sorts of places –at the grocery store, etc–and the scents they wear linger after they move on. 

And, as difficult as it is to find a job in this economy, imagine the extra anxiety for someone who can’t anticipate what co-workers might do or what the environment will be, once they do get a job. 

Many chemically scented products are toxic, and the levels of toxic effects vary from person to person, and even from day-to-day depending on the accumulated level of exposure and condition of the immune system.  It’s impossible to pin it down to say a little bit is an ok level–so the best thing is to eliminate chemical scents as much as possible from our lives.

For people who do not experience the devastation that chemical scents cause, it is difficult to understand– because the source/cause is  “invisible” and generally the symptoms (with some exceptions) that people experience are “invisible” too — you can’t usually “see” brain fog, the dizziness, headaches, muscle weakness, nerve damage, and general malaise that is caused by  chemical scents. 

And, I have no doubt that some of the naysayers posting dismissive comments here may one day experience this agony themselves in 10 or 20 or 30 years from now, because the impacts of exposures are cumulative over time. I never had any allergy my entire life, and then *bam* this illness took me down and my life has never been the same since.  And because of the lack of compassion from others in much of society, allergies and chemical sensitivities can also cause people to withdraw from society, become angry, depressed, and act in ways that alienate them from others, as may be the case in some of the postings above.

It is amazing how people, in their own state of ignorance, have such little compassion for  people whose lives are turned upside down by the pervasive aspect of chemical scents.  I have personally experienced untold levels of cruelty from others who would rather cling to their specific brands and their daily routines  (and even purposely spray my personal space with their products) rather than consider alternatives because of  the consequences of their actions on others.  Some people are only able to see acceptability through their own narrow definition of their own ‘likes and dislikes’ and  ‘normal’ is only their way–a definition that may indeed be largely influenced by corporate marketing. 

I understand that we all have our own likes and dislikes and levels of “normal” ….For me, it is now ‘normal’ to avoid chemical scents. But I can also understand how challenging it is for people to ‘get it’ when they don’t themselves have these sensitivities….For instance, I am not bothered by natural floral scents (like lavender) but other people get quite ill by that. We all have our own ‘normal’ and need to open our hearts and understanding to the pain and suffering of others who don’t fit into our self-described idea of ‘normal.’ 

Really, it’s not such a sacrifice to make small changes in life to help others. In fact, it can be uplifting.

Thank you for this forum. It is my hope that these toxic chemicals will one day be seen as the poisons that they are—just as our thinking about cigarette smoke has changed over the years.   Then, maybe I too can go to a movie or shop at a flea market or join a political rally and not worry that I’ll end up sick in bed because of the perfumes and colognes wafting through the air.

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About Faye Lynn

Barefoot and Breathless is a contemporary romance, chick-lit, women's fiction novel about a single mother looking for love, dealing with her son's growing independence, overcoming a past abusive relationship, trying to stay true to her morals, and teaching in a public at-risk school. It's a light, fun read with a writing style of Rachel Gibson meets Janet Evanovich. Like the heroine in Barefoot and Breathless, I'm a teacher, yogi, and single mother. I hope you enjoy reading my posts, and I look forward to reading your comments. Carpe Diem, Faye Lynn
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