Tuesday 24 January 2012

They said it couldn't happen

Can something be banned just because some people don't like the smell of it? Of course it can. It's happened all over the world and now—thanks to that non-existent slippery slope—it's happening with perfume and aftershave.

New Hampshire May Ban Perfume for State Employees

State employees in New Hampshire who douse themselves in Chanel before heading into the office may be in for a shock. If New Hampshire’s House Bill 1444 passes, state employees would be banned from spritzing their favorite perfumes during the work week, the Union Leader reports.

This seems rather silly. After all, getting a whiff of perfume isn't a health issue.

“It may seem silly, but it’s a health issue,” Michele Peckham, the state representative sponsoring the bill, told the Union Leader.

I stand corrected. It's just that Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (for that is the 'health issue') is a load of old cobblers (more details at Quackwatch).

“Many people have violent reactions to strong scents.”

Maybe they do, maybe they don't. Maybe they associate fragrances with 'man-made chemicals' and maybe they have a psychological problem. Whatever the source of the problem, it is not one that has any grounding in science.

Susan McBride, a constituent with a sensitive nose, started the conversation about banning offensive scents in the workplace back in 2008 when she sued the city of Detroit, claiming that the scent made it tough to breathe, thus keeping her from doing her job, Yahoo! Shine reports.

Readers of Velvet Glove, Iron Fist might remember this lady. She's nuts.

The city awarded McBride $100,000 and a city ordinance against scented body products. 

More fool them. Now they've opened the floodgates to every hypochondriac, tree-hugger and chemophobe in the USA.

Expect this one to run and run. After all, it's new secondhand smoke...


Curmudgeon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Curmudgeon said...

Ah well, much better the smell of stale sweat...

Remember that after the smoking ban came in, people were suddenly surprised to find that pubs smelt of sweat, beer, urine, flatulence, cooking and cleaning fluid.

justintempler said...

I had a female friend a dozen years who developed both "multiple chemical sensitivity" and symptoms of Parkinson's disease after being prescribed Prozac for anxiety.

It is my understanding that these are common side effects of taking anti-depressants.

So what we have here is the nanny state making the world safe for people taking anti-depressants which in turn means more people taking anti-depressants which means even more people with "multiple chemical sensitivity"

Mag said...

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity now goes by the name Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance (IEI). It must be noted that these people have actual physical symptoms. The issue is whether these symptoms are a direct physical reaction to a chemical(s), or whether they are psychologically-mediated, i.e., psychogenic. The evidence is for the latter. The symptoms typically complained of are classical anxiety symptoms, e.g., palpitations, pounding heart, accelerated heart rate; trembling or shaking; difficulty in breathing; chest pain or discomfort; feeling dizzy, unsteady, faint, lightheaded; fear of losing control, going crazy, passing out; sweating; dry mouth; feeling of choking; nausea or abdominal discomfort; feeling that objects are unreal or that self is distant; fear of dying; numbness or tingling sensations; hot flushes or cold chills.

Since the 1980s, it seems as though, as a society, we’ve lost psychological insight. Psychology departments have taken a pounding; they have been overrun by behaviorists. But there still are some psychiatrists/psychologists out there that specialize in anxiety/somatoform disorders. There are tests that can distinguish between physical and psychogenic reactions.

The problem seems that it doesn’t even occur to defense counsel in court cases to have someone qualified to testify on such disorders and the social disaster that can be produced, e.g., Environmental Somatization Syndrome, when the irrational claims are appeased, particularly through a favorable court decision and policy. Consider the Schuman case. Schuman complained of a cluster of symptoms that Munzer, an antismoking physician, testified that he believed these symptoms were “caused” by “smokedrift” entering Schuman’s apartment. The symptoms Schuman complained of are classical anxiety symptoms. The most that defense counsel did was to ask Munzer whether the symptoms could be psychosomatic. That’s not good enough. Needed is someone qualified that can describe the nature of the disorder, require testing of the plaintiff, and indicate the damage that can be done when the claims go unquestioned and are appeased. People like Jimbo Rapacious (and Munzer) should also be blasted in the courtroom that their agenda-driven “research” and baseless, biased testimony is promoting this sort of mental dysfunction (anxiety disorders).

Consider the Lavac case. The disgraceful confidence trickery involved has the potential to promote anxiety/somatoform disorders galore, where people will be clamoring to have their apartment-complexes made smokefree, under threat of possible litigation. The situation is perverse. It could be said that the entire antismoking crusade has relied on promoting psychogenic reactions to SHS (i.e., mental dysfunction) made to appear “normal”. And now others are arguing for their particular [psychogenic] reactions to other substances by analogy.

Anonymous said...

My olfactory senses are irritated by the smells in the detergents aisle in the supermarket. It only takes a short walk down the aisle for my eyes to water and my nose to start running.

I haven't asked any of the supermarket chains to ban the sale of detergents in their stores. I merely avoid that aisle unless there's something I need. I think some people are all too quick to jump on the compo wagon - especially those less capable who look for excuses not to go to work.

Mag said...

There is a section in the book Rampant Antismoking Signifies Grave Danger (p.412-415) that considers this phenomenon. The book was published in 2003 and this phenomenon was already rearing its head before then. Here’s an excerpt from RASGD:

Professor H. James Wedner proffers that “middle-class white women are most likely to complain of it. Typically, they’re well off enough that they can afford to drop out if they’re allergic to the entire environment. If you’re poor, you simply can’t afford to have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity syndrome. We don’t laugh at them, but our feeling is this in not a true clinical entity.” (quoted in Fumento, 2000) As indicated in an earlier section, it is predominantly materialist thinkers such as “environmental physicians” or “clinical ecologists” and “victim groups” that help to perpetuate the problem. Although many seem to believe that this acquiescing to demands is kind-hearted or polite, it accomplishes the opposite effect – fueling of an ESS epidemic (i.e., coddling or reinforcing effect). The more it is propagated that such exposures can do harm, the higher the incidence of persons experiencing the “harm.” These sufferers do merit compassion and help. However, it is psychological assistance that they require. Dragging public policy down to the demands of an unstable mentality helps no-one.

Mag said...

A disturbing sign is that persons within a normative range of functioning are made to feel guilty for their scent-wearing activity. For example, an 84-year-old was ejected from City Hall in Halifax for wearing perfume to a council meeting. When contacted by The Daily News for comment the woman responded with “I don’t want to talk about it, because it was really my own fault.” (The Daily News, April 16, 2000) A National Post article properly concludes that “[t]he campaign against perfumes is an example of a public health debate corrupted by victim culture. As with hate speech and sexual harassment, the discussion is conducted entirely on the accuser’s terms. Claims of injury, be they psychic or bronchial, are accepted at face value, on scant evidence.” (April 20, 2000)

Sufferers/victims seem to believe, and haughtily so, that it is their “right” to have their incapacity wholly accommodated by society. However, this actually means that those incapacitated can demand superior rights. A perusal of the internet reveals that, just like the issue of exposure to tobacco smoke, some believe that exposure to fragrances is the equivalent of assault and against which they can take self-defensive action.

Mag said...

Sufferers/victims seem to forget that it is they who are carrying an abnormality or susceptibility, whether it be biological or psychological. This forgetfulness is fostered by the externalist bias of medicomaterialism. By treating the endogenous system as a “black box,” it has improperly re-defined potential triggers as causes of reactions. A trigger means that it has no general propensity for an effect; the trigger for susceptible persons is not problematic for a normative range of functioning. It is in susceptible persons that their endogenous system is failing to do what a normally-functioning endogenous system can do that is the case, rather than the activity, per se, of a trigger. There is now the absurd situation that those carrying abnormalities view themselves as “normal,” view their condition as entirely attributable to the general causal effects of exogenous factors, and are attempting, successfully, to make those within a normative range feel guilty for their actual normality (i.e., the normal are treated as “abnormal”). Those within a normative range must now seek the permission of the biologically ill or the psychologically wayward in their conduct.

Public policy was once anchored to a normative range. Atypical, abnormal reactions, whether biological or psychological, did not warrant public policy alterations. It is only under a materialist assault, which incoherently anchors the normative range to the atypical and dysfunctional (see also following chapter), that this “rights” fiasco has been allowed to develop.

Mag said...

I’ll try to provide some links to IEI, but I doubt they’ll make it through the spam filter.

Anonymous said...

From Dave Atherton.

It has been theorised that asthma and atopy could be all in the mind, i.e. psychosomatic. Certainly you need a protein to set off an asthmatic attack.

"The most common psychosomatic respiratory illness is asthma. Marked by recurrent bronchial constriction, edema, and excessive secretion, the clinical picture is manifested by recurrent attacks of dyspnea and prolonged expirations with wheezing and coughing. During the attack, the patient usually is tense, anxious, and frightened in the face of experiencing a lack of availability of vital air.”

Please have a look at my blog post on this and the comments are even better.


Mag said...

The antismoking fanatic, Chapman, in a moment of sanity, has touched on IEI.


Anonymous said...

A friend who works in New Brunswick , Canada, has to comply with a 'no scent' policy which includes using scent free shower gel and deo before work.


Anonymous said...

This is all very interesting. I am allergic to some perfumes. That is to say that if I apply some perfumes or perfumed products to myself I come up in horrible, itchy, red lumps. This is a local reaction confined to points of contact and it is possible, though tedious, to find scented products that do not produce this response. The reaction is clearly due to one or two components of specific perfumes and not to the fact that something smells per se. I avoid perfumed products, obviously, but I regard this as my problem, indeed it is my problem and is confined to my skin. If someone else is wearing perfume, particularly a scent that has caused me discomfort in the past I react to it, but this reaction is psychological not physiological, there is no way enough (even in the I have drowned myself in scent extremists) scent on someone else can travel to my skin to elicit the response. So what we are looking at here is aversion. Quite simply, I don't like it make it go away. Exactly the same as cigarette or cigar smoke and every bit as fictitious.

Jonathan Bagley said...

Isn't the fear of wi fi and other electromagnetic radiation a similar phenomenom - lining rooms with metal foil etc.? People do seem to have real symptoms but these disappear when properly conducted tests are carried out, with the subject not knowing whether or not he is being exposed.

Rob said...

Live Scent Free Or Die

Michael J. McFadden said...

There's an interesting and potentially very real extension to all this that no one has mentioned: allergic and asthmatic reactions to cat dander.

Note: I am not talking about the firsthand exposure of having a cat sit in your lap or rub itself against you, or even the secondhand exposure of walking into a house where cats have lived, but thirdhand cat dander exposure: when someone who lives with cats visits such an afflicted person and they have an allergic reaction that leads to an asthma attack and kills them.

I don't know how common the fragrance thing is, but I *do* know I've never met anyone who I knew had the problem, while I *also* know that I've met a person who has had the thirdhand cat dander problem. So in my own experience cat frequency > fragrance frequency.

Under the Disability Acts (US or elsewhere) should companies be refusing to hire cat owners rather than risk the health and lives of their potentially sensitive employees? Should cat owners be prohibited from using mass transit? As David pointed out earlier, certain types of proteins are usually critical in terms of creating allergic reactions: cat owners are probably far more likely to give off allergenic proteins than burning bits of tobacco leaves.


Michael J. McFadden said...

Speaking in terms of MCS or IEI : I've never seen a study that tried to claim smokers were at increased risk of these problems.

Given the hundreds of millions of dollars out there for studying how many angels smoke while dancing on pinheads, I would imagine that such studies MUST have been at least looked at. So why haven't we heard anything?

My guess is that smoking is protective against developing MCS and that quitting smoking is a statistically "causative" factor in it. Thus... no research.