Air Fresheners are Toxic? Good Fragrance = Bad
Posted in Nourishment for the Spirit » Be Green on Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fragrance 101: What's Lurking in Your Favorite Fresh Scent?
by www.SixWise.com

 

Air fresheners, fabric sheets, and detergents often smell anything but toxic: lavender, pine trees, lemons, green apple ... how could something that smells so good possibly be bad?

fragrance chemicals

Chemicals from air fresheners, detergents, and dryer sheets may smell nice ... but at what cost to your health?

Or so you might think when you pick up such products at your grocery store. Even a quick check of the label is unlikely to yield anything suspicious. In fact, most fragrances are listed as nothing more than "perfume," "biodegradable ingredients," or even "essential oils" and "organic perfume."

What the manufacturers don't want you to know is that about 95 percent of the chemicals used in fragrances are synthetic, petroleum-based compounds. What's more, a new study by University of Washington (UW) researchers found 100 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs) -- which can cause cancer or damage to your respiratory, reproductive, or neurological systems -- in popular products you use in your home.

"Consumers are breathing these chemicals," UW engineering professor Anne Steinemann, who led the study, told Seattle P-I. "No one is doing anything about it."

What Kinds of Chemicals are in Your Favorite Home Products?

Steinemann selected top-selling items from the following categories:

  1. Dryer sheets

  2. Fabric softeners

  3. Detergents

  4. Solid, spray and plug-in air fresheners

She then had the air tested around the products to see what types of chemicals you might breathe in. What did she find? One hundred VOCs, 10 of which federal rules describe as toxic or hazardous. Three of these latter chemicals are "hazard air pollutants" that, according to the study, are unsafe to breathe at any concentrations. These are:

  1. 1,4-dioxane: A potential carcinogen that can be toxic to your neurological, respiratory, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal systems, as well as your skin, liver, blood and kidneys.

  2. Acetaldehyde: Which has been linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, allergies and immunotoxicity, organ toxicity and also is an irritant to your skin, eyes and lungs.

  3. Chloromethane: This ingredient has been banned or restricted in cosmetics in the European Union. It's been linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and organ system toxicity.

 

Despite containing these potentially toxic ingredients, the labels of the products gave no warnings, and even went so far as to cite most ingredients as "essential oils" and "organic perfume" in their technical documents (used for the safety of workers and emergency responders).

Other studies have also raised concerns. An investigation into fragrances, perfumes and colognes by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that:

  • 16 percent of the products they reviewed contained ingredients that may cause cancer

  • 5 percent may contain harmful impurities linked to cancer or other health problems

  • 18 percent contained penetration enhancers that increase exposures to carcinogens and other ingredients of concern

  • 98 percent of products contained ingredients not assessed for safety in cosmetics or with insufficient data

  • 76 percent contained ingredients that are allergens

  • 13 percent of products posed other potential health concerns

Aside from the obvious potential impacts on human health, the UW researchers expressed concern over the environmental impacts of such chemicals.

"These chemicals get into our water systems," Steinemann told Seattle P-I, calling them "extraordinarily hard to get out of the environment."

The products' manufacturers maintained that the ingredients are "routinely tested" and the potentially dangerous chemicals exist "at levels too low to cause harm."

Yet no one knows what happens after a lifetime of exposure to numerous products (many people use dryer sheets, detergents, and air fresheners, all in a single day). And for those with asthma, allergies or chemical sensitivities, just one exposure may trigger a severe reaction.

Even "Fragrance-Free" Products May be Risky ... So What Can You Do?

According to Steinemann, products that claim to be unscented may still contain fragrance to make them odor free!

"If it smells bad, it's bad; if it smells good, it's bad," said Aileen Gagney, Asthma and Environmental Health Program manager with the American Lung Association in Seattle, in Seattle P-I.

Tips for a Fresh-Smelling, Toxin-Free Home

  1. Avoid air fresheners of all kinds. If you want a bit of fragrance, purchase pure essential oils, add a few drops to a spray-bottle full of water, then spritz away to your heart's content.

  2. Don't use perfume or cologne ....they almost always contain toxic chemicals. (I get organic bamboo-lotus perfume from MSI-Healing.com)

  3. Do not buy anything that lists "fragrance" or "perfume" as an ingredient.

  4. Swap out your dryer sheets and fabric softener for dryer balls available at Walgreens.

  5. Choose non-toxic cleaning supplies. Baking soda, lemons and vinegar are the three mainstays in this department.

  6. Open the windows. As long as you don't have allergies, take advantage of the warm weather to let some fresh air into your home. It will make everything smell cleaner. And be sure to have plenty of ventilation any time you will be using cleaning supplies.

  7. Avoid cleaning products with pine, lemon or orange scents, which are among the most toxic.

  8. Use therapeutic-grade essential and aromatherapy oilsYoungLiving.com is my favorite.  Plus, you can also use the oils for natural wellness.

All content copyright © 2017 Kathy Hart & HealthywithHart.com unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.

Content Disclaimer

Site design by Chicago Web Experts Pradeep Kumar