Fragrances in Your Home Could Be Making You Sick
Fragrances in Your Home Could Be Making You Sick
Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” but when that the fragrance of that rose is made of phenyl ethyl alcohol, geraniol, linalool and other synthetic aroma chemicals, not only is it not quite the same, it could harm your health.
For many centuries, perfumes were made only from natural materials that had their own fragrance, mixed with natural alcohol.
The first artificial fragrance—Chanel No. 5—wasn’t made until 1921. French clothing designer Coco Chanel wanted a fragrance that was abstract, unique and did not smell like any particular flower. But she also wanted it to last longer than the natural fragrances of her day, which faded before the end of an evening. Her perfume just happened to be experimenting with synthetic fragrance molecules called aldehydes (yes, formaldehyde is an aldehyde), and the first synthetic fragrance was created.
But with synthetic fragrances came toxic chemicals. Instead of natural ingredients, perfumes were now made from chemicals synthesized from the waste products of refining petroleum for fuel. Over time, it was discovered that these chemicals were toxic.
Today’s fragrances consist of a combination of natural essential oils, aroma chemicals, and solvents in a base of alcohol. Some of the more toxic ingredients include
- methylene chloride
- methyl ethyl ketone
- benzyl chloride
All of these chemicals require disposal as hazardous substances.
In 1989, from a list of 2,983 chemicals used in the fragrance industry, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recognized 884 toxic substances capable of causing cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders, skin and eye irritation, multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS), and allergies.
In 2010, The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics commissioned an independent lab to test seventeen fragrance products. They found hormone-disrupting chemicals linked to a range of health effects, including cancer, thyroid disruption, and sperm damage.
But fragrance chemicals can also cause what a growing number of people experience as allergies and sensitivities, which can have mild to severe effects. Symptoms can range from classic “allergic” symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes, to headaches, inability to concentrate and dizziness. These chemicals can also aggravate breathing difficulties and wheezing, and result in skin conditions that include itching, hives, and rashes.
As consumers, we rarely know what the exact ingredients are. “Fragrance” on a product label is a catch-all term that can indicate the presence of up to four thousand different ingredients. Approximately 95 percent of those ingredients are made from petroleum.
In addition to perfume and aftershave, synthetic fragrance is used in a variety of consumer products, including
- Personal care products—shampoo, soap, lotion, deodorant
- Cleaning products—laundry detergent, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid
- Household products—air fresheners, candles, scented inserts in magazines
If you are having symptoms related to exposure to fragrance or want to eliminate scented products as a preventive measure for good health, the two steps are to buy unscented products and remove fragrance that may already be in your home.
There are many unscented products to choose from in stores and online.
Removing synthetic fragrance around your home is often easier said than done.
The tendency of synthetic fragrance to persist is one of the key features that Coco Chanel loved, and the popularity of No. 5 shows that many women agree.But it is just these synthetic manmade ingredients that make artificial synthetic fragrances difficult to remove from skin, clothing, bedding, towels upholstered furniture, and walls and other surfaces. Ordinary cleaning products can’t break down the chemical bonds that hold these fragrances together.
The EnviroKlenz technology utilizes a variety of physical and chemical mechanisms to capture and destroy chemical pollutants. The primary method of capture is physical through the interaction of the high surface area EnviroKlenz metal oxides with the chemical. The EnviroKlenz active components have numerous surface sites to attract and, based on chemistries, ultimately break down the chemical pollutants leaving the reaction byproducts surface bound to the metal oxide surface.This makes the technology particularly useful in applications such as fragrance removal from clothing, linens, and laundry in general. Our EnviroKlenz Laundry Enhancer is perfect for the contents in the home that may harbor unwanted odors and fragrances. The powerful formulation works right along with your favorite detergent, and can even neutralize fragrances and odors that might be left in the washer.