NPR on Fragrance Bans in the Workplace and Schools


PerfumeNPR has a great story out today on fragrance bans in the workplace — why some employers are considering them,

According to reporting by Yuki Noguchi, requests for fragrance bans are among the top five for human resources at workplaces around the country.

This isn’t just an imagined concern. Some genuinely have allergies triggered by the ingredients in some commercial fragrances, and some get migraines from exposure to perfume and cologne.

Having a fragrance-free policy can even earn building owners credits towards LEED certification, Noguchi reports.

The layers to this particular issue seem endless. On the one hand, I’ve been that person sitting next to someone whose perfume talks louder than they do. I’ve entered bathrooms where someone must have bathed themselves in cologne and not been able to breathe. Even if fragrance can be a personal mood-lifter, some wearers aren’t considering just how cranky their perfume can make the rest of us.

But I also wonder if the whole issue would be moot if consumers were choosing natural fragrances which are far less off-putting, which don’t carry as far on the air, and which age a little more subtly on the body.

Just how far do fragrance bans extend — to your deodorant? Your personal care items? Body lotions? News like this makes me happy I work from home, where the only rules about environmental sterility are the ones I make myself.

What’s your take on fragrance bans in the workplace?

4 thoughts on “NPR on Fragrance Bans in the Workplace and Schools

  1. Maria Stuart says:

    I have not worn fragrance since I got into the wine business 25 years ago.
    As fragrance on a person’s body can really disrupt a wine tasting experience, we have a fragrance ban for our employees. However, we can’t control what our customers are wearing when they come into our tasting space (message to the world: if you’re are going wine tasting, please skip applying any fragrance that day. This will enhance your own tasting experience and that of those around you).
    And as you mention – hair products, hand lotion, even lingering cigarette smoke can contribute to the environment as well.
    For my part, I am always grateful for the availability of unscented personal care products.
    Thanks Emily!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Emily Grosvenor says:

      I’m finding that I do better with essential oil or natural fragrances since they are barely there. But I don’t wear perfume when I go out to eat or wine tasting. Those are full-body experiences aren’t they! Thanks, Maria!


  2. dinnersforwinners says:

    I tried to get my previous employer to implement this type of policy. With a couple of major offenders, and especially in food production, it made a lot of sense to me, but they didn’t bite. It was really difficult to me to enter a room where one of these women were — just overwhelmingly powerful perfume, and not particularly nice-smelling. I have sensitive skin so I already don’t wear perfume and I stick to unscented personal care and laundry products….. so perhaps my nose has become hyper-sensitive? Working now in a higher education environment, I find far fewer offenders. Interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Emily Grosvenor says:

      Not wearing it in food production seems logical. Seems like such a difficult issue since olfactory perception is so personal. Just think about how people who do wear perfume look obsessively for the right scent for themselves, perhaps not thinking about how odious it might come across if they are swimming in it.


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