Five years ago I was on a flight to Philadelphia. One of the stewardesses had used a strongly scented fragrance hand lotion which I noticed. I had been asthmatic for 70 year by that time and had learned to avoid fragrances. did not order anything that she might drinks, no dinner. I observed the apparent agitation of an elderly lady two rows in front of me whenever the stewardess walk by her. The lady's husband was concerned and comforted her. I speculated that fragrance was the irritant and thought maybe I should ask them but did not.

Knowing what I know now I would intrude.

When the meals were being served the stewardess spent more time with the elderly couple handing them their trays. Several minutes later the elderly lady collapsed and was placed on the aisle floor and an oxygen mask put on her face. The oxygen mask probably protected her from additional fragrances. She was taken off the plane on a stretcher.

On my return flight several days later I asked the stewardness as I boarded if the stewardesses were still wearing strongly fragranced hand lotion. Once the plane was loaded the head stewardess came back and asked me about my concerns. I explained I was fine and had my inhaler should I have a problem. She left. A few minutes later the pilot came back and asked me to leave his plane!
I complained at the boarding gate and was put on the next plane to Seattle which was a non-stop flight and it was suggested that I not ask any questions. The good part of this story is I arrive in Seattle two hours sooner than I would have had I not been thrown off the plane.

I am more vocal now (except when I get on a plane).

Older people, small children, people with language barriers can be at increased risk when assaulted by fragrances. In many cases they are not aware that their discomfort is from detergents or personal care product. Many people don't know how to complain, or whom to complain to.

I have had problems with emergency response crews wearing strong fragrances. I have had four instances in the past three years where I have had to push them away. In a couple of cases a neighbor who knew my condition has had to explain so they can find someone else to intervene.

I am more vocal now and hope to find a way for parents of children and the senior members of our neighborhoods to register their concerns. If you detect mold or irritating odors in hospitals or other health facilities or detect irritating fragrances on health providers and technicians speak up. Email me. The more information that is available the better the chances of making changes.

If the person sitting next to you in a waiting room has a strong fragrance, just move (hospital management has no control over patients).