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Women for a Healthy Environment Hosts Fragrance-Free Day

The group will hold a webinar on workplace policies and have a community celebration in Market Square downtown.

In honor of the region’s first-ever fragrance-free day on Tuesday, Women for a Healthy Environment will host a free webinar on workplace policies and a community celebration in Market Square. 

Women for a Healthy Environment is a coalition of women representing various sectors in the western Pennsylvania region who have a common interest in the link between health and the environment. 

Tuesday's fragrance-free event is the first in the region.

“Fragrance is in dozens of products we use every day, ranging from air fresheners and laundry detergent to cologne and soap,” Michelle Naccarati Chapkis, the organization's executive director, said in a press release. “Most of the time, consumers have no idea what ‘fragrance’ is, because it’s considered a trade secret. But we do know that there are lots of chemicals—many of them untested—that are used to make fragrance."

Fragrance-free day is sponsored by the Highmark Foundation, The Heinz Endowments and the Pipitone Group.

"Numerous consumer and personal care products such as perfumes/colognes, air fresheners and cleaning products contain sensitive agents that can trigger respiratory conditions and can lead to health side effects including nausea, wheezing and headaches," Yvonne Cook, president of Highmark Foundation, said in the release.

The free webinar, "Fragrance-free Workplace Policies,” will be held from 11 a.m. to noon. It is geared toward human resources professionals and corporate wellness committees. It will include discussion of fragrance and potential health effects, legal issues for impacted by fragrance in the workplace, employer accommodations for employees with chemical sensitivities, sample fragrance-free workplace policies and implementation practices. 

Featured panelists include:

  • Deborah Gentile, associate professor at the Department of Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine; and director of research at the Division of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology at Allegheny General Hospital.
  • Anna Kanwit, director of the Bureau of Human Resources for the City of Portland, OR, which adopted fragrance in the workplace policies in 2011.
  • Elisabeth Simpson, senior consultant with the Job Accommodation Network, an expert on employee/employer rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. that same day, a community celebration of fragrance-free day in Market Square will feature performances by Pittsburgh singer-songwriter Bill Deasy, giveaways including a fragrance-free toolkit and opportunities to take the “Don’t Spray for a Day” pledge. 

Attendees who "like" Women for a Healthy Environment on Facebook will receive a fragrance-free gift.

To register for Fragrance-Free day events, visit www.womenforahealthyenvironment.org/pages/fragrance-free-day or call 412-420-2290.

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