Ban urged on perfume and aftershave in hospitals

Ban urged on perfume and aftershave in hospitals

Perfume and aftershave should be banned from hospital wards on health and safety grounds, according to two doctors.

Hospitals are not known for their sweet aromas, but while the smell of disinfectant is acceptable artificial scents are not, say the Canadian experts.

Evidence suggests they run the risk of aggravating asthma and other allergy conditions, they claim.

Doctors Ken Flegel and James Martin point out that around 30% of people report some sensitivity to scents worn by others, and 27% of asthma sufferers are adversely affected by the fragrances.

"This is particularly concerning in hospitals, where vulnerable patients with asthma or other upper airway or skin sensitivities are concentrated," they write in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

"These patients may be involuntarily exposed to artificial scents from staff, other patients and visitors, resulting in worsening of their clinical condition."

Dr Flegel is senior editor of the journal and Dr Martin is from the Department of Medicine at McGill University in Montreal.

They called for a blanket ban on personal artificial scents in hospitals.

"The high prevalence of asthma and its adverse effects on health and productivity argue strongly for greater consideration of the air we breathe in our health care centres," the doctors concluded.

"Hospital environments free from artificial scents should become a uniform policy, promoting the safety of patients, staff and visitors alike."