Tips for Parents for Creating Scent Free Schools

Tips for Parents for Creating Scent Free Schools 2008

  • We find that education is a necessary and primary tool, and is even the best action.
  • Formal “policies” have been hard to get, while programs based on information and education have worked well as long as education has been done and is kept current.
  • School newsletters to introduce the program to parents, talks in the school, having the support of the principal locally and preferably also the school board.
  • Schools can also be encouraged to put a scent smart logo and “This is a Scent Smart School” or some other reminder as part of every school newsletter.
  • Put signs up around the school. The Lung Association has some good signs.
  • Also post brief reminders such as “Welcome to our Scent Smart School” signs at the door.
  • Each spring it is also a good idea to send a reminder to teachers and parents to purchase less toxic, scent free school supplies. Have teachers specify this on the lists they send home at the end of the school year for purchase of supplies for Sept.
  • In Nova Scotia, where at least 85% of schools have “scent-free” programs, principals handle discipline and implementation differently from school to school. The most successful ones do all of the above plus: send scented kids home to shower and change, disallow anyone from entering the school while smelling of scented products, and send special reminders to parents that Parent-Teacher interview nights are to be scent free.
  • When necessary, principals use the normal disciplinary actions available to them for handing school discipline issues. But, again, education is still the strongest ally.
  • CASLE’s (Canadians for a Safe Learning Environment) website has a model newsletter for schools that anyone is welcome to use or alter.
  • We are finding that “Scent Smart” programs instead of “Scent Free” programs are more easily supported here. Sir John A Macdonald High School’s website (Tantallon, Halifax) has Scent Smart promotion and information that could help as a model.
  • Each spring it is also a good idea to send a reminder to teachers and parents to purchase less toxic, scent free school supplies. Have teachers specify this on the lists that they send home to parents at the end of the school year for purchase of supplies for September.
  • The Lung Assoc of New Brunswick has a video downloadable on scent free schools.
  • The Fragranced Product Information Network has plenty of excellent information. Betty Bridges has even written an article that was published by the Fragrance Industry. Accurate info that can’t be argued with. Go to
  • Health Canada’s Tools for Schools Kit encourages Scent free programs for improved indoor air quality in schools. There isn’t much there on scent free programs but see page 3.4 of the Backgrounder. Then go to CASLE’s website for “how to” information
  • The main things are to build bridges,
    • educate on health concerns,
    • explain that fragrance products are unregulated, untested, and often toxic avoid making enemies.
    • find and develop allies who have authority of one sort or another.
  • Put a face on the issue: Increase understanding of the vulnerability of those with Environmental Illness but also include Our Toxic Nation research that shows how everyone is wise to decrease their exposure to unnecessary chemicals.
  • Fragrance materials are only part of the problem. Less toxic/low-emission cleaning and maintenance materials are also important. No deodorizers in washrooms.
  • No single approach works every time, but these tips tend to work as an overall approach.
  • Pesticide use needs to be discouraged or eliminated. See CASLE’s website.
  • Sensitive students or teachers often benefit from having a portable air filter in their classrooms. See CASLE’s website for an article on how to choose portable filtration devices. Beware of ozone producing machines and of “purifyers”. Filters are less hazardous.

Visit the following sites:

Health Canada’s Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Action Kit for Canadian Schools at To obtain a hard copy, contact them at 1-866-225-0709.

Canadians for A Safe Learning Environment (CASLE)

EHANS website is useful for general less toxic issues plus scent free alternatives.

Toronto District School Board’s Scented Product Awareness Program at or call 416-397-3000.

Fragranced Product Information Network US Healthy Schools Network Healthy Schools

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health & Environment (CPCHE) at the Centre for Social Innovation, 215 Spadina Avenue, Suite 120, Toronto, ON M5T 2C7, Tel: 613.546.3838

The New Brunswick Lung Association’s Healthy School Program has downloadable videos on improving indoor air quality in schools and Towards a Scent-Free Environment at

Children Breathe Easy is a 22 minute video production about the cooperative steps that were taken to improve the indoor air quality at Blake Street and EAST Alternative Schools in downtown Toronto. The video is designed to assist other communities in creating healthier and safer learning and work environments. Contact the Central Office at 1-800-766-3418 or 416- 408-4841. The cost is $10 (plus $2 shipping and handling). DVD or CD versions plus guide book.

A video called Environmentally Sick Schools by Dr. Doris Rapp can be purchased from Practical Allergy Research Foundation, PO Box 60, Buffalo, N.Y., 14223. (1-800-787-8780)

CASLE (Canadians for A Safe Learning Environment)