Scent And Sensitivity | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 92 Issue 5 | p. 2 | Letters
Issue Date: February 3, 2014

Scent And Sensitivity

Department: Letters

The photo accompanying “Perception Puzzle” reminded me of my sensitivity to artificial scents (C&EN, Oct. 14, 2013, page 18). I understand that about 10% of adults are sensitive to artificial scents. Therefore, there is a large market for scent-free products. If adults are sensitive at this rate, what is the sensitivity rate for newborns and infants?

Increases in asthma rates may be directly linked to the use of scented products in babies’ surroundings. Dryer sheets, fabric softeners, air fresheners, perfumes, and so on, should all be kept out of the breathing space for infants. The exposure to these substances may trigger an allergic response that manifests as asthma later in life. Amish children are reported to have a much lower rate of asthma than the general population. This may be a result of lower exposure to scented agents in the home.

W. G. Sayre
Castine, Maine

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