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Powered by the Disability Social History Project (pchad@dnai.com)
Last revised: 30 Jan 2002

HOW and WHY to be SCENT-FREE

Information provided by the Ad Hoc Committee for Environmental Access (email: envaccess@aol.com)

If you are not accustomed to going "scent-free," it is important to think carefully about all the products you use in your day. You can either not use shampoo, soap, hair gel, hair spray, perfume/scented oils, skin lotion, shaving cream, makeup etc., or use fragrance-free alternatives for at least a whole day before attending an event that is "scent-free".

Many fragrance-free products can be bought in your local drugstore. For hard-to-find products (especially hair products), check out your local health food store or the NEEDS catalog: www.needs.com. If you are unable to find "fragrance-free" at a store, often the hypo-allergenic version of a product is scent-free. Simply read the ingredients on the label and see if the word "fragrance" appears. If not, you're OK. In a pinch, you can use baking soda to wash your hair (it really works!) and clothes. Suggestions for fragrance-free products are at the end of this page.

WHAT WILL IT DO FOR MY HEALTH, AND THE HEALTH OF OTHERS, TO GO SCENT FREE?

Becoming scent-free is an important step toward access for people with disabilities. Plus, you may be surprised to find that you feel better as well!

People with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (also called Environmental Illness) experience serious and debilitating physical and neurological symptoms when exposed to the chemicals used in most scented products. Often, the damage caused by these chemicals causes an individual to react to other intensely volatile substances, such as essential oils, tobacco smoke, and "natural" fragrances. The process by which we "smell" something actually involves microscopic particles of that substance being absorbed through mucous membranes and entering the nervous system. The intense symptoms associated with chemical sensitivities have led most medical experts to theorize that the disorder is neurologically, not immunologically, based.

Because no government agency regulates the ingredients of household and personal care products, the last several decades have seen a huge increase in the number of harmful chemicals added to these products. Many of these chemicals are banned for use in industrial settings because of their known toxic effects. According to a 1986 U.S. House of Representative study: "Ninety-five percent of chemicals used in fragrances are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum. They include benzene derivatives, aldehydes, and many other known toxics and sensitizers -- capable of causing cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders, and allergic reactions."

Symptoms of chemical exposure include dizziness, nausea, slurred speech, drowsiness, irritation to mouth, throat, skin, eyes, and lungs, headache, convulsions, fatigue, confusion, and liver and kidney damage. As you can imagine, these symptoms constitute serious barriers for people with chemical sensitivities in work, life, and of course, conference attendance. Promoting scent-free environments is very much like adding ramps and curb-cuts in terms of the profound difference in accessibility it can produce. We appreciate all participants in the Queer Disability Conference cooperating with the No Scent Policy to make this the most accessible disability conference ever.

PRODUCT SUGGESTIONS:

SOAP: Tom's of Maine unscented, Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil, Neutrogena unscented, Dr. Bronner's Aloe Vera Baby Mild, Simple, Body Shop unscented shower gel.

LAUNDRY DETERGENT: Arm & Hammer Free, Tide Free, Wisk Free, Planet, 7th Generation fragrance-free, Granny's, any other fragrance-free brands.

SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER: Pure Essentials fragrance-free, Magick Botanicals fragrance-free, Simple, Granny's.

SKIN LOTION: Eucerin, Simple, any other fragrance-free variety.

DEODORANT: Almay fragrance-free, Tom's of Maine's fragrance-free, Simple, Jason Natural unscented, Kiss My Face fragrance-free, any other fragrance-free variety.

HAIR GEL: Magick Botanicals, or make your own with gelatin (really works!)

HAIR SPRAY: Magick Botanicals, Almay

MAKEUP: Almay (in all drugstores), Clinique (in department store cosmetic sections and online).

SHAVING CREAM: Ray Ban hypoallergenic, Kiss My Face fragrance-free, Simple

IF YOU SMOKE:
Please smoke only in the designated smoking area located outside of the conference center and away from the entrances. Please also keep in mind that many chemically-sensitive people will also get sick from the smoke clinging to your clothing and hair. If you smoke OR hang out with people who are smoking, please sit or stand as far away as possible from the areas designated as "MCS Safer Zones." Also, keep in mind that smoking is banned in virtually all buildings in California, including the conference housing, bars, and restaurants. Thank you!


FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO VOLUNTEER:

email: QDConference2002@hotmail.com

FOR PROGRAM INFORMATION:

email: QDProgram@hotmail.com

On the web at www.disabledwomen.net/queer

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