Fragrances – They Smell Nice, But Are They Good For You?

It seems everyone you meet has their own signature scent. In fact, our environments are filled with fragrances--they smell nice--but are they good for you?

If you are like most people, you probably love the smell of flowers, clean clothes or even your shampoo. Did you know that one in five people experience health problems when exposed to fragrance; asthma and upper respiratory illnesses are the most prevalent.

The Environmental Health and Coalition of Western Massachusetts, a non-profit organization dedicated to environmental health issues and serving the needs of chemically injured people published a brochure called “The Hidden Dangers of Fragrances.”

In this brochure it lists many interesting Fragrance Facts, some of which are listed below:

  1. We inhale fragrances whether or not we use them, just like secondhand tobacco smoke.
  2. 72% of asthmatics have adverse reactions to perfume, and asthma attacks can be fatal.
  3. Chemical and fragrance manufacturers, protected by special laws, don’t have to disclose ingredients or testing data to the public, the government, or any regulating body.
  4. Several hundred chemicals can make up a single fragrance.
  5. Infants are especially vulnerable to fragrance chemicals due to an undeveloped defense called the blood brain barrier.
  6. Fragrances deny many people access to public places and events.
  7. Although synthetic chemical fragrances tend to be the most toxic, “natural” fragrances can also be problematic.
  8. Essential oils also are not always free of contaminants, and some people can react severely to even pure organic oils.
Also, a very large percentage of “natural” products are scented with unnatural fragrances.

What’s in the Smell?

In 1991, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studied 31 fragrance products and found toxic chemicals in each fragrance tested. Each fragrance tested also contained toluene, which is neurotoxic, carcinogenic and designated as hazardous waste!

Fragrances may contain petroleum or formaldehyde!

Manufacturers mix many chemicals together to make a fragrance, as well as to control color, shelf life, time-release properties and adhesiveness (e.g. fabric softener).

Scents have not been proven safe, and the fragrance industry is unregulated.

Health Effects from Fragrances

Some of the following health problems are associated with fragrance exposure according to the EPA’s findings:

  • Asthma
  • Fatigue
  • Eye irritation
  • Sinusitis
  • Immune system damage
  • Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain
  • Effects on the brain or nervous system (irritability, headaches/migraines, depression, dizziness, drowsiness, panic attacks to name just a few)
  • Skin problems
  • Kidney & liver damage
  • Cancer

Products to Watch out for:

Energy Matters, LLC Blog: Fragrances - They Smell Nice, But Are They Good For You?

Some of the products below usually contain fragrance chemicals that are designed to linger:

  • Personal care and beauty products such as soap, deodorant, lotion, makeup, nail polish & remover, hair products
  • Household products such as laundry detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets, dish washing detergent, kitty litter, toilet paper & tissue, trash bags
  • Miscellaneous items such as magazine perfume strips, candles, and scented paper. Air fresheners are used regularly in bathrooms, cars, hotels and many other places, coating nasal passages with nerve-deadening agents and impairing the sense of smell.

Accessibility Issues

  • Sensitivity to fragrance is an invisible disability. Health effects from exposures to fragranced products make it impossible for some people to work, socialize or participate in activities. Fragrance-free policies are becoming more common as businesses, organizations, towns and public event organizers respond to the growing number of scent-related problems.
  • Health and medical professionals should avoid wearing fragrance to work. Many medical offices also now even request their patients refrain from wearing fragrance into the offices.

Safer Products are Available

Order from companies that specialize in products for the allergic or chemically sensitive to buy products generally considered fragrance-free. Most can be found at natural/whole foods stores and food co-ops. Useful multipurpose substitutes include baking soda and vinegar.

Fragrance use is a matter of personal choice, but it has consequences for everyone. Whole Living gives some great alternatives for Alternatives to Artificial Fragrances.

For more personalized guidance on this topic, schedule a consultation with Rose today.


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