CDC Implemented Indoor Air Quality Policy for All Its Facilities-So Why Aren’t Medical Offices & Hospitals Doing This?

Everyone deserves the right to breathe fresh clean air. Air that is unpolluted by perfumes, colognes, body spray, air fresheners, dryer sheets and other noxious chemicals that are detrimental to our health. To this end, even the CDC has stepped up to the plate and made  changes that positively affect the health of their staff and all visitors to their buildings.

So my question is, why aren’t businesses providing fragrance / chemical free environments? Especially public buildings such as stores, hospitals and doctors offices? More importantly what can we do to effectively make that change happen?


In June of 2009, the CDC implemented a new indoor air quality policy for all its facilities. This policy prohibits, among other things:

Scented or fragranced products are prohibited at all times in all interior space owned, rented, or leased by CDC. This includes the use of:

 •Incense, candles, or reed diffusers

•Fragrance-emitting devices of any kind

 •Wall-mounted devices, similar to fragrance-emitting devices, that operate automatically or by pushing a button to dispense deodorizers or disinfectants


•Plug-in or spray air fresheners

•Urinal or toilet blocks

•Other fragranced deodorizer/re-odorizer products

The CDC document goes on to state:

Personal care products (e.g. colognes, perfumes, essential oils, scented skin and hair products) should not be applied at or near actual workstations, restrooms, or anywhere in CDC owned or leased buildings. In addition, CDC encourages employees to be as fragrance-free as possible when they arrive in the workplace. Fragrance is not appropriate for a professional work environment, and the use of some products with fragrance may be detrimental to the health of workers with chemical sensitivities, allergies, asthma, and chronic headaches/migraines.

Employees should avoid using scented detergents and fabric softeners on clothes worn to the office. Many fragrance-free personal care and laundry products are easily available and provide safer alternatives.

View the entire 13 page CDC policy here


Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Be part of the change you wish to see in the world.

How to advocate for a fragrance policy in a health care setting

  1. Find and work with “like-minded” individuals. Have a support team so that you are not alone in your efforts. It takes time to implement a policy that affects so many people and in such a personal way.
  2. Locate the person/people who has the authority to implement the policy.
  3. Set up a meeting with the person/people with authority to make this decision. Decide who should attend the meeting and be prepared.
  4. Be prepared. Know what  your specific goals are, know what you are willing to do, and know what you want the store/doctor/business to do.
  5. Bring scientific documentation; an example of a fragrance policy in use, an example of a model policy; and, a list of key resources including books, articles, and relevant professional web sites
  6. Emphasize a win-win outcome. Better air quality enhances everyone’s health. Including the employees/ staff/doctors/patients/shoppers. Illness decreases and productivity increases. Fragrance /chemical free policy makes the facility/business accessible for those with health problems related to fragrance.
  7. Consider conducting a simple anonymous survey about the issue if administrators do not think that fragrance is a problem.
  8. Agree on dates for creating a draft of a fragrance policy, reviewing the draft, and implementing the policy. You may want to begin with just one area; if working with a hospital consider choosing the newborn nursery or pediatrics since people may be more open to change if it is for an infant or child.
  9. Develop brochures for educating staff, patients and visitors. Develop a sign that welcomes all to your facility; post signs at all entrances.
  10. Review the policy on a regular basis and revise as needed.


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