Dalhousie throws its staff off the scent

January 17, 2003

Canada's Dalhousie University is attempting to make its buildings scent-free on the grounds that pungent aftershaves and perfumes can damage health.

The Halifax university operates a voluntary curb on aftershaves and perfumes to improve working conditions for the chemically sensitive.

The programme was officially endorsed by the university president and met little opposition, after almost a quarter of the 2,000 staff at one of Dalhousie's teaching hospitals fell ill as a result of a ventilation problem.

Many of those people developed a sensitivity to perfumed products. The East Coast city also has a high incidence of asthma.

Sufferers from an acquired illness called multiple chemical sensitivity experience symptoms from sinus congestion and watery eyes to temporary rashes, migraines and asthma attacks when confronted with perfumed cosmetics.

Dalhousie has not produced figures on how many of its staff are medically in need of a fragrance-free environment, but that has not stopped the university from suggesting that people's hairspray, soap and shaving cream should be replaced with unscented equivalents and that cologne and perfume should not be used.

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