Many people think that various household products with nice smells like scented laundry detergent or dryer sheets, shampoos, cosmetics, and cleaning products are made from flowers or natural flower essences. This was true many years ago, but today the vast majority of these products are made from petroleum or petro-chemicals. This creates potential health problems for everyone who uses these products. It also creates sometimes serious health problems for those who are asthmatic or chemically sensitive and have serious reactions to synthetic fragrances.
Facts About Fragrances
- At least 1 person in every 5 gets sick from breathing scented products that others wear
- The National Academy of Sciences, (a US Government agency), says that scented products are “toxic to the brain”
- The AMA, the EPA and the American Lung Association (ALA) all agree that fragrances can make asthma and respiratory problems worse
- Even the U.S. Fragrance Association (an organization that promotes fragrances) recommends that scented products only be used if they are not detectable at an arm’s length distance away
- When you are smelling the scent, you are breathing in the chemicals. So if someone is close to you and can smell the fragrance from your scented laundry detergent or perfume, they (and you!) are breathing in the chemicals
- Petrochemical compounds, which are in most scented products, can enter the body through the skin
- Adverse reactions caused by fragrances include headaches, migraines, sinus problems, sore and hoarse throat, lung and throat swelling and asthma reactions
- Scented products, including perfumes, laundry detergents, dryer sheets and more can stick to clothes and your body throughout the day, and still cause reactions in others hours after you put them on
- In fact, laundry detergents with fragrances are designed to be long lasting, and hence release chemicals all day long. These scents can and do remain even after several washings for many weeks
- Fabric softener is made specifically to stick to clothes, but it does often flake off as you wear it, and these flakes can irritate the airways of people with allergies, sinus congestion, asthma and more
- Many fragrances contain chemicals that were made to change your mood. This means that they can and do change the chemicals in your brain.
- The chemicals from synthetic fragrances can also make it harder for you to pay attention or concentrate, to remember things and to think clearly
- The term air freshener is really misleading. First of all, fresh air does not have an odor, second of all, adding another chemical to the air to try to cover the smell does not make that air more fresh, it actually makes it more toxic
- According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, most people with asthma react to synthetic fragrance exposure and experience a reduction in lung function
Avoid Wearing Scented Products in Public
So what does all this mean? At the very least, you need to avoid using products that contain synthetic fragrances in public. Remember, this is not just perfume, but makeup, deodorant, aftershave, laundry detergent and more. It is especially important that you change your laundry detergent, fabric softener and dryer sheets to scent-free brands, as these stick to your clothes and impact the air space of others all day long. If you are around others and are wearing scented products, you will more than likely be causing reactions without even knowing you are doing it. Do you really want to make other people ill?
You might also want to consider eliminating all use of scented products for the sake of your own long-term health, even if you don’t have any chemically sensitive or asthmatic family members or friends. In fact, many people who never thought they were sensitive to chemicals are surprised to see their health improve when they reduce their own exposure to everyday household chemicals. Often headaches, fatigue and memory improve as well as other symptoms that you may not associate with exposure to chemicals that you use every day. So next time you go to buy laundry detergent or other household and personal care products, choose a fragrance-free one, for your health, your family’s health and that of others you encounter throughout the day!
Copyright 2008 Karen Pijuan. This article may be copied only in its entirety and only if all links, including those in the resource box or the about-the-author section, remain intact.