Scents-ability in the workplace
Roberta Bradley enjoyed her job as
a computer programmer with the
Government of Alberta. But she
started to feel sick whenever she was
at the office.
“ I felt like I always had the flu,”
says the 51-year-old Edmonton
resident. Among her symptoms:
chills, sore throat, earaches and
trouble remembering things.
“ I was terrified of losing my job,”
she says. Her manager agreed she
could work from home.
After visits to many doctors,
she found one who specialized
in environmental medicine. He
found she had multiple chemical
In 2014, Statistics Canada reported,
2.4 per cent of Canadians had MCS,
with women accounting for more
than half the cases.
As more workplaces become
aware of MCS (also known as
environmental sensitivities, ES or
environmental illnesses, EI), many
are going scent-free, says Mark Fehr,
executive director of the Safe Healthy
Environments for Alberta Health
“People with asthma and allergy
or sinus problems are especially
vulnerable,” Fehr says.
If someone wears too much
perfume, Fehr says posters
and memos can remind them
The case for going fragrance-free on the job
of the problem.
Bradley is one of the founders
of the Environmental Health
Association of Alberta (eha-ab.
ca). It helps people understand the
dangers of hundreds of chemicals
and materials in products such
as printer toners, printers, carpet
and construction glues, and soaps,
sanitizers and lotions.
It took seven years for Bradley
to regain her health. Many people
aren’t so lucky, she says. Some go
decades without getting a
diagnosis or don’t have an
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