Diane Hostetler | Tom Kerns | Brian Saunders

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Classroom Policy on Indoor Air Quality
& Chemical Sensitivity




The fragrances in aftershaves, perfume, hair spray, cologne, detergents, shampoos, and many other products we encounter every day contain solvents and neurotoxic chemicals which cause severe physical reactions in those people who have become sensitized to them. These reactions can be mild, such as a slight headache or a sudden inability to think or concentrate, which might not even be recognized as the result of exposure to fragrance; or can sometimes be severe, such as a migraine or an asthma attack, and can interfere seriously not only with study but even with the ability to breathe. The National Academy of Sciences has estimated that approximately fifteen percent of the population suffers from some level of chemical sensitivity. Some students, faculty, and staff at NSCC have suffered severe adverse health effects after even brief exposures to artificial fragrance, and have become very ill.

This problem is not yet widely recognized as a serious health issue, and as a result people do not realize that by using or wearing something with artificial fragrance in it, they may be jeopardizing someone else’s physical health. NSCC now has an official Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) policy which specifically urges that people refrain from wearing fragrances or scented products anywhere on campus or in classrooms. (If you wish to see this IAQ policy, see the NSCC website or ask for a copy at any college office.)

Colognes, perfumes, aftershaves, scented hand lotions, and scented hair sprays usually cause people the most distress. We are asking, and the NSCC IAQ policy asks, that you please avoid using these products on the days you come to campus. This will benefit you (since these solvents and neurotoxic chemicals are harmful to all of us, even if we do not immediately notice their effects), and it will especially benefit those sensitized persons, some of whom may be saved severe suffering, sometimes including migraines and serious asthma attacks.

If you do find yourself physically reacting to something worn by a classmate, faculty member, or staff member, please inform that person so they are aware of the problem. And if someone in the classroom asks that you avoid using a fragrance that is causing them to be sick, please take into consideration the problem which can be so harmful to them. We realize that this is a personal subject, but please be kind and think of others' needs.

(Since it is so easy to forget these things, you might consider printing and taping a copy of this note to your bathroom mirror as a reminder for the days you come to campus.)

Thank you for your consideration.

Diane, Brian, and Tom


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© Diane Hostetler, Tom Kerns, Brian Saunders