Can anything be done?

A Canadian organisation called Citizens for A Safe Learning Environment is taking this issue extremely seriously, and lobbying for scent-free schools. Some public buildings in Canada are already designated ‘scent-free’ for health reasons. A sign used in Canada is shown on the Indoor Air Quality section of the New Brunswick Lung Association website.

If the UK authorities cared about our health, they would presumably also take action to protect us, but there is little evidence of such action being taken despite pressure from NGOs like WWF, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. It would appear that powerful industry lobby groups are playing a part in this scandalous failure to act.

Gradually, the EU is starting to require labels warning consumers if certain specified perfume chemicals are present, and a huge programme of chemical testing is planned. However, this will take many years to complete, and will still not identify all long-term human health effects. It is unlikely that there will be mandatory tests on all chemical mixtures found in everyday products, as the combinations are almost infinite.

You can read brief details of some of the tests, including animal tests, which will be required under the new legislation in the EU document cited above (COUNCIL REGULATION, 2008), and I can provide fuller details of the experiments on request.

Do we really need potentially-harmful artificial perfume chemicals, when there is already evidence that they cause harm, and when their continued use will require such cruelty to animals? If you buy such products, you are sanctioning these tests. If people start to say “No!” to artificial perfumes, manufacturers may not consider it worthwhile to use them any more, especially in view of the costs that the newly-required tests will cause them to incur.

In the meantime, the chemicals will still be present in the products which are polluting the air which we all breathe.