Here’s the “Fragrance 101” email we send when trying to educate folks on toxic synthetic scents.
Background on “fragrance”
Look at the back of virtually any personal care product or any household cleaner – detergents, dryer sheets, fabric softeners, shampoos, perfumes, colognes, room sprays, candles, lotions, cosmetics, sunscreens, deodorants, etc. – and if you see “fragrance” or “parfum” or “scent” listed, that product contains a combination of chemicals (95% of synthetic “fragrance” is now derived from petrochemicals) to create that smell.
It’s these chemicals – that can enter the bloodstream via inhalation and absorption – that can cause adverse reactions including migraines, asthma, sneezing, hoarseness, itching, hives, liver damage, nausea, cancer, organ failure, seizures, and more.
Because it can have such an immediate, adverse effect, the CDC actually banned “fragrance” in all of its offices for all 15,000 employees and contractors in 2009. You can read their no fragrance policy online here: http://www.drsteinemann.com/…/CDC%20Indoor%20Environmental%…
So, exactly which chemicals create the “fragrance” in the products you’re using? Under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1973, “fragrance” ingredients are protected as “trade secret” and not required to be disclosed. While we don’t know what exactly is making that “Fresh Mountain Breeze” smell in the laundry detergent, we do know, generally speaking, that there are more than 3,000 stock chemicals used by manufacturers of “fragrance.” We also know that, thanks to the 1976 Toxic Substance Control Act, almost none of the 84,000 chemicals in US products are regulated or tested for safety, and that several of the most common chemicals used in “fragrance” are classified as Hazardous Waste by the EPA, RCRA, and CERCLA.
While the short term effects are obvious for many when they come in contact with synthetic “fragrance” – sneezing, headaches, rashes, brain fog, irritability – the potential long term effects are even more frightening. Around 75% of products with “fragrance” contain hormone-disrupting phthalates (aka obesogens) which have been linked to liver and breast cancer, diabetes, birth defects, infertility, reduced sperm count, obesity, and more. Fetal exposure to phthalates has been linked to autism, ADHD, and neurological disorders. And what is a phthalate’s purpose? One is they are the chemicals used to make the smell cling and last longer. When a product brags about having a long-lasting smell, it most likely contains phthalates.
Other countries have already banned many of these chemicals in products. For example, the EU has banned over 1,300 chemicals from cosmetics while the US has only banned or restricted 11. Certain products sold in the USA cannot be sold in other countries and, in fact, their formulas are changed to do so. Why not sell the same in the USA? One reason is we’ve become addicted to these intense, long-lasting scents, and the companies know they must keep feeding that addiction. (Several chemicals used in “fragrance” actually have a narcotic effect.)
To look up information on products and chemical ingredients in household products: http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners
And personal care products: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
It’s so important to read all of the ingredients because even “unscented” or “fragrance-free” products may contain synthetic “masking fragrance.”
Just a few of the healthier product options found in stores or online:
Laundry: Seventh Generation, Molly’s Suds, Green Shield Organic
Dryer balls: Woolzies, Molly’s Suds, Dryer Max, Nellie’s, Maple Hill
Hair & Skin: Yarok, Acure Organics, Morrocco Method, 100% Pure
Cosmetics: W3LL People, Kari Gran, 100% Pure, Juice Beauty
Deodorant: Schmidt’s, Real Purity, Jungleman Naturals
Baby: Earth Mama Angel Baby, Badger, Dr. Bronner’s
Pets: Wondercide, Molly’s Suds, Dr. Bronner’s, earthbath
Personally, we clean our entire home with baking soda, vodka, vinegar, salt, and olive oil. We use Molly’s Suds detergent and dryer balls for laundry. We use Seventh Generation Free & Clear for the dishes. And A Wild Soap Bar products on ourselves, head to toe, as well as on the dogs.
Here is a great, short article from Aly Cohen, MD: http://www.everydayhealth.com/…/toxic-household-items-shou…/
Fragrance sensitivity now affects 15-30% of the general population. Many don’t even know what’s causing their rashes, migraines, or mood swings because the use of synthetic “fragrance” has become so pervasive – it’s everywhere. Our mom suffered from migraines for as long as we can remember, but since she eliminated synthetic fragrance, she has been migraine-free. It’s pretty amazing.
If you have any questions or need additional product suggestions, we are here to help.