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Stores Should Keep a Lid on Perfume Odors

September 05, 1993

* Among many sources of bad air that contribute to poor health, one that has received less attention than smog is what could be called "perfume pollution."

In large quantities, perfume can be overpowering. For people with breathing problems, myself included, it can literally take one's breath away.

It is impossible to stroll through malls nowadays without being overwhelmed by clouds of perfume, especially during the holidays when the department stores literally pump it into the air. Fragrances are popular gift items, and I do not begrudge the chains the opportunity to make a good, honest profit on their wares. But I do wish that they would not inflict these potent odors on everyone who wanders through their cosmetics divisions.

OK, as an asthmatic perhaps I am in a small minority. However I did mention the problem to my physician, expecting little sympathy, and he surprised me by confiding that he too could not tolerate large doses of perfume. Often, he claimed, he has to ask his nurse to take over the personal-history part of a physical exam while he leaves the room to escape a patient drenched with an excess of some exotic redolence.

Maybe others share my distress. How about forming an anti-aromaticist protest group? Well, maybe this isn't the time for another movement. But I suspect there are many others who would also like to see department stores show a little more subtlety and restraint in presenting their odoriferous products.

In other words, don't spray me in the face, and make plenty of room for me to walk briskly through the perfume aisles of the store. This is not an environment in which I would voluntarily choose to linger.



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