Airborne Anaphylaxis: My Son’s Fragrance Battle
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I am currently seeking the help of an expert at Yale Medical School, Dr. Carrie Redlich, who is in the process of evaluating Brandon. These fragranced products are considered an environmental and occupational hazard. Our kids are not working at a manufacturing plant; they are simply going to school. Why should a child, or anyone, ever have to go through this?
I have also pressed politicians to help me. There is now a bill that is sitting in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, introduced by Representative Marcia Hahn, called the Fragrance Free Schools Act (HB1955). Senator Lisa Boscala introduced a companion bill in the state Senate (SB1363). The bills are definitely an exciting step in the right direction, but there is a lot more to be done. Will they pass? Will they be properly enforced? What will it take to protect students like my son?
Brandon can no longer go to school because of chemicals he gets exposed to – doctors say they could kill him. For years, he switched between homeschooling and attending school, but now he cannot attend at all because the allergy has become so severe. Every day he asks “when can I be with my friends?” The school tried to plead with the student population to refrain from wearing Axe at school, but they are just kids and this hasn’t worked. We have to be the adults and try our hardest to protect them.
My son just wants to have a normal life. He is one of the strongest people I know. School was supposed to give him the freedom to learn and explore, but instead, it has robbed him of his health. This started when he was 10 years old: I packed his lunch, put him on the school bus, and a child was spraying Axe’s body spray in his class. That fateful day, six years ago, changed my Brandon’s health and life forever.
We all need to stop and think about the air our children are breathing at school, where they spend the majority of their day. We need to truly think about fragrance-free schools. Not only to protect Brandon, but also to protect other children from harmful chemicals that so innocently hide behind the catchall word “fragrance”.
Rosa Silk lives with her son Brandon in Bethlehem, PA. She will be posting updates to Brandon’s journey on Twitter under the handle @BeScentsLess.