Scents in the Workplace

Scents in the Workplace

UBC Okanagan has implemented a voluntary Scent Free Program on campus. Look for the No Scents is Good Sense poster throughout campus promoting a healthier scent-free environment.

Scented personal products contain chemicals which can cause health problems for many people, especially those with asthma, allergies or environmental illnesses. The University Health & Safety Committee asks for your support in limiting the use of scented personal care products.

What Products Contain Scents?

Scents in the workplace refer to smells or odours that come from cosmetics, soaps or cleaning products. Some common scented products are:

Most manufacturers of personal care products offer scent free alternatives. By choosing scent free personal care products we can lessen the impact the scent has on the health of others.

Symptoms Related to Scent

Exposure to scented products can adversely affect health. People with asthma, allergies, and respiratory conditions report that exposure to scented products, even in small amounts, can trigger a response. Some symptoms can be:

Dealing With a Scent Situation

For Employees/Students experiencing health effects from scented products:

  • Approach the person discreetly.
  • Clearly and courteously explain the benefits of adopting scent-free practices. Remember most people are unaware of the negative impact scented products have on some people.
  • Direct them to the website for more information. Education is the key when discussing the situation.
  • If you feel uncomfortable approaching the individual directly, speak with your supervisor/instructor.
  • If you are unable to resolve your concerns by speaking with the individual and your supervisor or instructor you may contact the University Health & Safety Committee for assistance.


For Supervisors asked to deal with scent issues:

  • Learn more about the Scent Free Program at UBC Okanagan.
  • Approach the individual discreetly and inform the individual about the Scent Free Program.  Explain to the individual that scented products can cause health issues for some people.
  • Keep the individual with the sensitivity apprised of what has been done on their behalf.
  • Continue to monitor the situation until it has been resolved.
  • If you are unable to resolve the situation you may contact the University Health & Safety Committee for assistance.


For Teaching Staff:

  • Attempt to maintain a scent free environment in your classrooms and labs by informing your students of the Scent Free Program (direct them to this website)
  • If a student approaches you with a scent concern discreetly approach the individual(s) wearing the scent and inform the individual(s) of the scent sensitivities some of their classmates have encountered. Direct them to the website for more information.
  • Encourage students to wear scent-free alternatives.


For Individuals who have been approached about their scented personal products:

  • Do not take offence.
  • Learn more about the Scent Free Program at UBC Okanagan.
  • Consider switching to a scent-free alternative.