I believe that Elena Solovyov’s rebuttal letter to the editor (“Safe Fragrances”) in Monday’s Post-Gazette, concerning Pohla Smith’s June 17 article “Suffering in a Fragrant World,” missed the mark. I don’t believe Ms. Smith or anyone else is disputing that fragrances are “safe.” What many are contesting is the ignorant overuse of stench people utilize in order to supposedly smell better.
In my allergist’s office, posted everywhere the eye can see, are signs politely asking people to refrain from wearing any and all fragrances, be they perfumes, soaps, colognes, whatever. It’s not a matter of these chemicals being unsafe, but a matter of posing a significant factor in exacerbating asthma-related issues and chemical sensitivities to those who are sensitive to fragrance.
I am an allergy and asthma patient and have an intense sensitivity to most fragrances. They irritate my nostrils, sinuses and lungs to the point where an asthma attack could happen. Again, no one is disputing the testing and safety issues of fragrances, but it’s a fact that does not need to be corrected that there are chemical-sensitive people out there whom fragrances can and do harm. I actually had to ask my dear late mother-in-law that when she visited could she please not wear any perfumes or overly fragrant soaps — otherwise I couldn’t join the party in my own home.
I believe Ms. Solovyov, a fragrance industry spokeswoman, has completely ignored the common complaint here — that fragrances can and do present an overwhelming obstacle to those of us who suffer from asthma, sinusitis and chemical sensitivities, who only wish to breathe clean, fresh air and not be bombarded with odors that our senses cannot tolerate.
To those of you who feel the need to wear an overabundance of fragrance, please consider that anywhere you go there may be those of us who do not share the pleasure of how you think you smell and that you may be causing someone undue physical stress to their lungs, sinuses and breathing. I thank you for toning it down a bit and being considerate of others.