Always Well Within

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Health dangers of fragrance

Are you aware of the health dangers of fragrance—not just for those with chemical sensitivity, but for you too? Not  for women alone, but for men as well?

A whopping 90% or more of the chemicals in synthetic fragrance are derived from PETROCHEMICALS.  Yes, petrochemicals!  Very romantic, huh?!?  The chemicals in your fragrance can actually make another person go into anaphylactic shock, trigger a painful migraine, set off an asthma or allergy attack, cause any number of other symptoms, and also contribute to chronic ill health.  By the time you realize that repeated exposure to the low levels of chemicals contained in fragrance are triggering symptoms for you too, it’s a bit late to turn back the clock.  The overwhelming majority of these chemicals have not been tested for safety.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is working to protect your health by eliminating the use of chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other health problems.  Visit their website to read about the hidden health hazards lurking in fragrance.  Here’s one point that stands out for me because I am sensitized:

“Sensitizers: One in every 50 people may suffer immune system damage from fragrance and become sensitized, according to the EU’s Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-food Products. Once sensitized to an ingredient, a person can remain so for a lifetime, enduring allergic reactions with every subsequent exposure.”

I find that number startling!  As Tide (Tide Free) and All (All Fee and Clear) now offer fragrance free detergents, we know there must be truth to these statements.  These companies would never invest in such products if there wasn’t a substantial market and profit to be made.  These products are free of perfumes and dyes. Nevertheless, buyer beware as they still contain plenty of toxic chemicals.  I myself use 7th Generation Free and Clear, but some people with chemical sensitivity are so sensitized they cannot use detergent in any form.

Fragrance is ubiquitous:  off-gassing from dryer sheets, air fresheners, fabric softener, cleaning products, scented candles, personal care products, toothpaste, and the list goes on and on.  Most essential oils are synthetic and thus are typically comprised of noxious substances too.  I love the title of this post on counterfeit perfumes at Smell, Inc.,  Antifreeze and Urine Found in Some Perfumes, which illustrates the potential danger of buying perfumes at special reduced prices.

If you are committed to being green or thinking about going there, a good place to start is to eliminate the use of fragranced products.  Taking care of the planet is important, but protecting your health and the health of your children, who are more vulnerable to toxic chemicals, is also a priority.

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  1. Mr. W

    Certain fragrances actually make me nauseated and gives me a stuffy nose feeling. When I shop for deodorants I always have to find the mildest one.

    • Mr. W., The more I talk to people, the more I am discovering how common it is for people to have this type of reaction to fragrance. It seems it may occur in 15% of the population! Thanks for weighing in on this. All the best to you.

  2. Sue

    Hi Sandra,

    I came across your blog via Annabel Candy’s “Get in the Hot Spot”.

    This is a great article. I’m really glad to see you mentioned the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and their safety database. I often send people to those resources to see for themselves exactly how toxic some of their personal products really are. Now I can also tell them about this article. I don’t think many people realize that it isn’t about an aversion to certain smells (although that doesn’t help matters in some cases)–it is in fact the chemical properties and make up of the molecules that trigger the physiologically distressing symptoms.

    I’ve noticed that even a lot of environmentally friendly cleaning products are also offered in various scented versions. I stick with unscented versions for the most part and if I really want to add some scent, I’ll add a drop or two of an essential oil. Even some essential oils can be a bit tricky though. Too much is too much, whether it’s from a safe, natural source or a chemically based synthetic.

    I’ll look forward to coming back to your site to check out some of the other articles you’ve written.

    • Hello Sue and welcome to my blog. Thanks for your valuable input. You are absolutely right that it isn’t about an aversion to a certain smell, it’s about the chemicals used in the perfume or product. I also avoid the eco-friendly products that contain scents. I’ve found that some people have trouble with essential oils, but others are OK with them. Gradually, more and more people are becoming cognizant of these potential health dangers thanks to places like the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. I look forward to seeing you again sometime! Stop by anytime. 🙂 Stay well.

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