(NaturalNews) A Minnesota state congressperson has proposed a law that she hopes would lead to schools free of colognes, perfumes and other artificial fragrances.
Rep. Karen Clark initially proposed placing an outright ban on all fragrances in Minneapolis schools, out of concern for the effects that those chemicals have on children with asthma and other health problems.
According to Mary Heiman, the nursing service manager in charge of the Minneapolis school district's asthma program, 12.5 percent of the city's students suffer from asthma. School nurses regularly treat children for wheezing brought on by fragrances, and the scents have also been known to induce headaches.
A Minneapolis South High School senior named Mikolai Altenberg described the smell of body sprays and other fragrances as unavoidable.
"You can smell it from 10 feet away," Altenberg said. "Mostly it's just guys who just think that putting Axe all over them is a substitute for showering."
After Clark announced her intention to ban fragrances from schools, she was approached by students and an administrator from Patrick Henry High School who expressed concern about the compulsory nature of her plan.
"They were very wise," said Clark. "They said, 'Our peers won't stop wearing perfume because somebody tells them they have to.'"
Based on this advice, Clark instead introduced plans for an awareness campaign in Minneapolis schools, as well as other school districts that volunteer to participate.
The purpose of the campaign would be to convince students to stop wearing fragrances out of respect for the health of their classmates. It would include signs on school campuses, a Web site, fact sheets, and e-mails and letters to parents and students. A similar approach has been used by Disability Services at the University of Minnesota and is mirrored in recent Minneapolis teacher contracts.
To date, no state has successfully banned fragrances from schools, although bills have been proposed in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts.