Women for a Healthy Environment Urges Companies, Co-Workers, "Don't Spray for a Day"

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During National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, May 20 is Fragrance Free Day, featuring fragrance-free and naturally scented giveaways, tips and resources for improved indoor air quality.

Fragrance free day

Tuesday, May 20, is Fragrance Free Day!

We all want to work in a pleasant environment, but some of the products we use as employers or employees can unwittingly put others at risk and potentially cost businesses millions of dollars.

“Don’t spray for a day,” is the call to companies across Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware today as Women for a Healthy Environment (WHE) conducts its annual Fragrance Free Day during National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.

“We all want to work in a pleasant environment, but some of the products we use as employers or employees can unwittingly put others at risk and potentially cost businesses millions of dollars,” said Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, executive director, Women for a Healthy Environment.

Asthma is the most chronic disease that affects Americans of all ages, approximately 40 million people. Studies have shown that certain cleaning products used in offices, schools and other public buildings, such as industrial-strength cleaning products and room deodorizers and air fresheners, contain chemicals identified as potential asthmagens (triggers of asthma symptoms), allergens, pre-carcinogens and air contaminants. In recent years, consumer products such as colognes, perfumes and body sprays have also been found to contribute to poor indoor air quality and negative human health impacts.

This can also lead to lost productivity, absenteeism and higher costs for businesses. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, annual per capita employer expenditures to businesses for asthmatic patients were approximately 2.5 times those for control subjects ($5,385/employee versus $2,121/employee). For asthmatic employees, wage-replacement costs for workdays lost as a result of disability and absenteeism accounted for almost as much as did medical care (40 percent versus 43 percent).

As part of Fragrance Free Day, WHE hopes to increase awareness by providing employers and individuals tools, tips and resources for creating a healthy environment free from fragrances and other harmful chemicals that reduce indoor air quality. Locations include downtown Pittsburgh, Camp Hill and Allentown, PA; Charleston, WV; and Wilmington, DE.

Giveaways include fragrance-free or naturally scented laundry detergent, lotion, soap and shower gel. Earlier this month, the group launched its Fragrance Free Toolkit for schools. The “school-kit” and Fragrance Free Day activities were made possible by a grant from Highmark Foundation.

“Highmark Foundation and Women for a Healthy Environment will once again partner to bring Fragrance Free activities to educate the public about the effects of fragrances in the workplace, schools, homes and communities through online school toolkits, webinars and public events,” said Yvonne Cook, president, Highmark Foundation. “With this grant, WHE seeks to increase awareness among consumers, educators, as well as employers, of ways to avoid negative health effects and improve indoor air quality including reducing the use of products that contain fragrance,” she added.

For more information on how companies and individuals can go “fragrance-free” and improve indoor air quality, visit http://www.WomenForAHealthyEnvironment.org.

About the Highmark Foundation
Highmark Foundation is a private, charitable organization of Highmark Inc. that supports initiatives and programs aimed at improving community health. The Foundation's mission is to improve the health, well-being and quality of life for individuals who reside in the communities served by Highmark Inc. The Foundation strives to support evidence-based programs that impact multiple counties and work collaboratively to leverage additional funding to achieve replicable models. For more information, visit http://www.highmarkfoundation.org.

About Women for a Healthy Environment
Women for a Healthy Environment focuses on educating the general public on issues associated with food and consumer product safety, including sources of possible exposure to environmental toxins. The organization also collaborates with like-minded organizations to raise awareness on environmental health issues in the western PA region. More information about Women for a Healthy Environment is available at http://www.WomenForaHealthyEnvironment.org.

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Paul O'Rourke
Pipitone Group
(412) 321-0879
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Michelle Naccarati=Chapkis
Women for a Healthy Environment
(412) 420-2290
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