CDC's Fragrance-Free Policy

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now following a fragrance-free policy as part of its "Indoor Environmental Quality Policy." This clearly sets the stage for other public institutions to follow suit.

The policy has been instituted in all of the CDC's offices, affecting more than 15,000 employees nationwide. According to the policy,

The goal of the policy is to promote and protect the health and well-being of CDC personnel, contractors, and visitors; to prevent work-related injury and illness, as well as harm and pollution of the environment; and to insure compliance with all applicable state, local, and federal regulations.

The policy contains extensive guidelines, which are quite significant for people suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), such as providing notices at least 5 working day in advance to the occupants, in case of renovation, demolition projects, and maintenance and operation activities conducted in Government-owned facilities as well as in leased facilities, and to schedule the work, if feasible, for non-duty hours, such as weekends, off hours, as in CDC's own words, "This will allow individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, or people with chemical sensitivities that could be aggravated by construction activities, to make alternate arrangements to work away from the site."

It says in the CDC policy that pest management for lawn and building care will emphasize non-chemical management strategies, that Integrated Pest Management practices must be used, and if pesticides are really needed, then only the least-toxic chemical controls would be used, and that the pest control products used in and around a building must be documented and that the MSDS will be made available upon request for building occupants.

In regard to the housekeeping guidelines, the following is stated:

"CDC will ensure that products used in the workplace, such as soaps, cleaning products, paints, etc., are safe and odor-free or emit low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to the fullest extent feasible. Only green cleaning products shall be specified and used within CDC facilities and leased spaces unless otherwise approved by the Office of Health and Safety."

It is also mentioned in the CDC policy to vacuum frequently and thoroughly using vacuums with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, and that if carpets must be cleaned, that steam or least toxic, non-petroleum based, fragrance-free all-purpose cleaner or carpet cleaner will be used.

In regard to the buildings' occupants, the CDC has a fragrance-free policy and a list of non-permissible products as stated by CDC:

"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
• Potpourri
• Plug-in or spray air fresheners
• Urinal or toilet blocks
• Other fragranced deodorizer/re-odorizer products

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 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."