RE: OFF-TOPIC question about an office thing?

Subject: RE: OFF-TOPIC question about an office thing?
From: mlist -at- safenet-inc -dot- com
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2006 16:52:18 -0400

There's actual science (of varying quality) behind the notion of systemic
reactions to scents and chemicals. Interpretation, though, is another

There's still a lot of question about:

1) How much of it is hysterical (in the clinical sense)? Nobody who's
affected wants to hear that, though.

2) How good were the studies at separating out _scent_ from associated
Often (see item 1) people experience a reaction and smell a smell and
thereafter associate the smell with breaking out in a rash or having their
breathing aparatus seize up, or whatever. It might, in fact, be the
substrate or solvent or carrier chemical in which the actual scent is
packaged. But the substrate/solvent/carrier is relatively odorless, so
everybody jumps on the component that's easily recognized.
I've got various allergies and asthma, and was always set off by airborne
pulp-mill effluent. Some years later (ok, decades... stop rubbing it in) I
will anxiously clench when smelling a similar stench, but when I pay
attention and consciously relax, it turns out that modern paper-making
plants have pretty-much cleaned up what comes out of their stacks, and the
asthma triggers are greatly reduced or absent.

3) My Googling skills have let me down just now, but a few years ago I read
about a study in which various scents were tested (by exposing susceptible
people in a controlled situation); it turned out that the really, really
expensive scents were far less problematic than the mass-market ones. At the
time it wasn't proven, but was speculated that the expensive stink is
derived from natural substances, gently treated, while the cheapo stinkums
are artificial, perhaps petroleum based, and so on, often having components
closely related to pesticides and other nasties. Hey, it didn't kill the
rabbits and mice, so it's ok to put on your skin...

A related thought is that people who use really expensive scents often use
them sparingly, so there's less of any (possibly) irritating substance to be

Locally (Ottawa, Canada) there's a debate about imposing bans in "public"
places, but the precedent has already been established that "public" means
anywhere outside your own house, be it a privately owned business or
whatever. This leads to questions of how the ban is worded, how it is
imposed, regulated, etc. Is it complaint-driven, such that persons of a
certain type can make life miserable by siccing the stink police on people
they don't like? Or is it based on repeatable, empirical parameters, like
specific chemicals and classes that can be detected by portable sniffers?
What if it turns out that the offending chemicals were not the scent
components, but some casually- or closely-related odorless components. Does
the ban get rescinded? Can malicious people get away with sporting the
odorless irritant as long as they don't smell of "scent"?

One local columnist, who unfortunately favored a ban, did have a good
general suggestion for a rule-of-thumb: if people can smell you from five
feet away, you've overdone it.

Kevin (who wears moderately expensive pit-stinkum, but no aftershaves or
such, and doesn't get complaints, nor notice people leaning away from him in
elevators... much)

The information contained in this electronic mail transmission may be privileged and confidential, and therefore, protected from disclosure. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by replying to this message and deleting it from your computer without copying or disclosing it.

WebWorks ePublisher Pro for Word features support for every major Help
format plus PDF, HTML and more. Flexible, precise, and efficient content
delivery. Try it today!.

Doc-To-Help includes a one-click RoboHelp project converter. It's that easy. Watch the demo at

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- infoinfocus -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to lisa -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Previous by Author: Looking for desktop slideshow
Next by Author: Re: Dropping the you? The Asian response to imperative voice. (was: Re: you or he/it)
Previous by Thread: RE: OFF-TOPIC question about an office thing?
Next by Thread: RE: OFF-TOPIC question about an office thing?

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads