Article of Interest: Fragrances and Work-Related Asthma

Our team at the Hoffman Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT) Program at UT Health San Antonio wanted to share this important external article:

Fragrances & Work-Related Asthma,” from the California Department of Public Health.

Fragrance ingredients used in perfume, personal care products, cleaning products, and air fresheners can trigger asthma. Fragranced products are used in many California workplaces and have been associated with over 350 cases of work-related asthma.
The Work-Related Asthma Prevention Program (WRAPP) has tracked hundreds of asthma cases associated with fragrances at work. These worker illnesses occurred in many indoor work settings like schools, hospitals, offices, and manufacturing. WRAPP found that perfume was the ninth most common exposure reported by people with asthma related to their work. Nearly a quarter of the cases associated with fragrances were new-onset asthma, meaning the workers reported no prior history of asthma.

The California Department of Public Health also lists information on asthma and fragrances for employers and employees, as well as tips on finding products without fragrances.

This is important for people who experience chemical intolerance, said Dr. Claudia Miller, allergist/immunologist, professor emeritus, and leader of the Hoffman TILT Program at UT Health San Antonio.

“Our studies and those of others show that fragrances not only cause asthma and breathing difficulties but may also disrupt attention, mood, and short-term memory,” Miller said.

How chemically sensitive are you?

Answer these three questions from the Brief Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (BREESI):

  1. Do you feel sick when you are exposed to tobacco smoke, certain fragrances, nail polish/remover, engine exhaust, gasoline, air fresheners, pesticides, paint/thinner, fresh tar/asphalt, cleaning supplies, new carpet or furnishings? By sick, we mean: headache, difficulty thinking, difficulty breathing, weakness, dizziness, upset stomach, etc.
  2. Are you unable to tolerate or do you have adverse or allergic reactions to any drugs or medications (such as antibiotics, anesthetics, pain relievers, X-ray contrast dye, vaccines or birth control pills), or to an implant, prosthesis, contraceptive chemical or device, or other medical/surgical/dental material or procedure?
  3. Are you unable to tolerate or do you have adverse reactions to any foods such as dairy products, wheat, corn, eggs, caffeine, alcoholic beverages, or food additives (e.g., MSG, food dye)?

If you answer YES to any of these three questions, take the Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (QEESI) and share the results with your doctor!