A Message From Your Local Health, Safety & Environment Committee …

Spring is in the air! And that means that some of us are noticing and reacting to pollen.   While we are mostly able to control our allergic reactions to outdoor triggers with medication, we might not be able to control what our friends, family and co-workers are bringing into our indoor air space.

The Local 3657 Health, Safety and Environment Committee is doing a series of educational mailings on airborne allergens such as fragrances, pollens and diesel fumes, in an effort to educate our membership and work toward a healthier workplace for all of us.  This first mailing highlights the efforts to make our schools healthier for our children by a group called Women for a Healthy Environment.

As it states on their website, Women for a Healthy Environment is a representation of women from western Pennsylvania.  Some are community volunteers; some represent concerned non-profit organizations; and some represent area foundations and corporations.  They are all interested in making Western Pennsylvania as strong and healthy as it can be.  Women for a Healthy Environment focuses on educating the general public on issues associated with food and consumer product safety, including sources of possible exposure to environmental toxins.

Read below an excerpt from their website:http://www.womenforahealthyenvironment.org/pages/who-we-are

What Your Nose Doesn’t Know Can Harm You

Think about the personal products you use every morning:  your soap, shaving cream, shampoo, moisturizer, makeup, deodorant, gels, mousse, hairspray, cologne or body spray.  All of them have a secret ingredient that might be affecting your health—and you haven’t even left the house!  If you have teenagers around, you know they use even more of these products.

The secret ingredient is known as “fragrance” or “parfum,” and it’s added to practically every product we use on a daily basis. A single product may have hundreds of chemicals in its fragrance—there are more than 3,000 different chemicals used in common fragrances—and the majority of them have not been tested for safety.

Over the past 50 years, the United States Food and Drug Administration indicates that 80-90% of fragrances have been synthesized from petroleum, and some of the commonly found harmful chemicals in fragranced products include acetone, phenol, toluene, benzyl acetate, and limonene.  Fragranced products such as air fresheners contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), chemicals that keep the fragrance molecules airborne so the fragrances linger longer and reduce our indoor air quality.

Every day people suffer because of allergies and asthma triggered by fragrances.  In fact, about 30% of the population suffers from allergies and is, in some degree, affected by fragrances. Approximately 5 to 10% of the population is extremely sensitive to these scented products—and these sensitivities can have a severe impact on the lives of both adults and children no matter where they go.  Some children are so sensitive that they have to be home schooled.

By creating awareness of fragrances and educating people on the health effects and risks that may be associated with fragrances, we hope to create consumers who are better able to make decisions about the products they use in order to limit their exposure to chemicals, whether they are sensitive to fragrance or not.

For information on how fragrance affects students in schools, how to avoid bringing harmful substances home and how you can help, visit the  Women for a Healthy Environment website:
http://www.womenforahealthyenvironment.org/pages/who-we-are

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