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Scent Awareness: Home

Scent awareness at the Library

When we talk about scents, we usually think of the smells from various products such as deodorant, shampoos, perfume, air fresheners etc., however it is the chemicals in these products that produce the smell and can cause serious health problems for others. For those with pre-existing conditions such as chemical sensitivities or sensitization, asthma or allergies, exposure to these products can cause range of ill health effects.

With this in mind, Vancouver Community Library encourages all employees, students, and visitors to voluntarily reduce or eliminate the use of scented products at both VCC library locations. The library is requesting that individuals voluntarily refrain from using scented products, as opposed to banning individuals from using scented products.

What can I do?

You can adopt scent-free practices avoiding strongly scented products and opting for fragrance free options. It doesn't have to be time consuming and expensive to switch to scent-free products. Scent-free, fragrance-free or unscented products are available in your local supermarket and pharmacies next to their scented versions on the shelves. 

Unfortunately, scent-free, fragrance-free or unscented labels on products, don't always mean there are no chemicals. They only mean the product has less scent than the scented version and they may actually contain ingredients that are used to hide the smell of other ingredients.

However, choosing products with these labels is still safer than the scented versions. The best way to tell if a product is scent-free is to look at the product ingredients on the package, and look in particular for the words "parfum" or "fragrance".

It is also easy and cost-free to simply not wear scented products at work or school. 


What is the difference between an allergy and sensitivity?

An allergy is when the body's immune system reacts in an extreme manner to normally harmless substance. A sensitivity is a reaction to a substance which is an exaggerated reaction of a normal side effect. A sensitivity is less severe and life-threatening, but may still have adverse effects when the person is exposed. Sensitivities can typically be managed or limited.

Can scents cause health problems?

Exposure to scented products can affect a person’s comfort and their health. Individuals living with chemical sensitivities, migraines, asthma, or allergies, among other conditions, can experience a range of ill health effects when exposed to scented products. These effects include but are not limited to:

  • Headaches, including migraines
  • Feeling faint, dizzy, or lightheaded
  • Nausea and loss of appetite
  • Feeling fatigued, weak, or generally unwell
  • Depression, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, or concentration difficulty
  • Upper respiratory symptoms, including shortness of breath, congestion of sinuses, coughing, sneezing, or throat irritation

What if I don't adopt scent-free practices?

While avoiding scented products in the library is voluntary, by wearing them you may cause discomfort and pain to others. It is important to work together to encourage a scent-free environment in the library so that others may enjoy the same opportunities and comforts.

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