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Re: "What's That Smell?"

Dear Ms. Langlois,

Thank you very much for writing The Valley News article, "What's That Smell? Many Sensitive to Scents" on July 31, 2011. I am one of those many people who suffer neurological and immune consequences from synthetic fragrances.
Since the composition of fragrances is allowed to remain secret and fragrances are unregulated by the FDA, naturally they have also not been studied scientifically unless some of the chemicals have been studied in another
context which is subject to regulation. However, it would still not be clear that that particular chemical was in use in any particular fragrance since all their ingredients are allowed to remain secret.

In 1986, the National Academy of Sciences recommended to the 99th US Congress that fragrances be tested for neurotoxicity, but this action was never taken.

Please read the following article or for clear presentations. Or look up "musk xylene" as an example. Musk Xylene, a common ingredient in many fragrances,
has been banned in Japan and the EU for its harmful effects, but not yet in the USA. There are many other ingredients in fragrances which are actually known to cause cancer, neurological, immune and other serious health consequences, although industry here is not yet restricted or held responsible for using them.

Consider the history of industry's blocking the study and restriction of lead and mercury, or the tobacco industry's blocking scientific studies and legal restrictions on tobacco products. This is a continuation of the same kind of problem. Toxic forms of energy production have also been given a great deal of collusion by those who are supposed to be protecting public safety. This is an "old story" about collusion with money and power. The old defense, "that the problem hasn't been studied or proven", is very easy to make when government is colluding with industry and not studying these substances for safety. Then to take a step from the position of "we don't know" to "there is no problem so therefore we need not identify, study or regulate these chemicals" is logically unwarranted, dishonest and irresponsible.

Let's break this pattern of circular thinking and intended ignorance while demanding scientific investigation and legal responsibility to protect public safety. This widespread problem will not be solved by individuals alone, suffering from chemical toxicity and having to take extreme avoidance measures--even, in some cases shutting themselves away--but by greater national measures to protect public safety. There is an exponential increase in neurological problems now from children with learning disabilities to older adults with dementia, and we owe it to ourselves to investigate all the potential causes, including the chemicals used to make profitable consumer products.

I do object to doctors such as Edward Kent Jr, the allergist at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington whom you cited, and to any others who ought to be better informed, yet who deny, dismiss, or ridicule the many people who have lost their health to the toxic effects of chemicals, including the widely used synthetic fragrances in many products.

Again, thank you for your long, front page article, which I am sure got many more people considering the noxious effects of synthetic fragrances.


Cecelia Blair