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Fragrance and Scented Products Rated Highly Hazardous to Health

by Barbara Minton
See all TBYIL articles by Barbara Minton

(The Best Years in Life) Perfume packaging may have flowers, fruit or butterflies on it, but what's inside is a long way from mother nature.  Perfume and the thousands of other scented products created for us to use on our bodies and in our homes get their scent from the more than 3100 chemicals in the arsenal of the fragrance industry. These chemicals are capable of creating tremendous havoc in the human body.

When perfumes, colognes, body sprays, soaps or other scented products are used, these chemicals are absorbed through the skin and lungs, and enter the blood stream just as surely as if they had been swallowed. Once there, they accumulate in human tissue and breast milk, with these potential results:

  • liver toxicity

  • nervous system damage

  • allergies

  • learning disabilities

  • brain fog

  • obesity

  • compromised immune system

  • cancer  

If you have mysterious nagging health problems that won't go away, chances are they spring from fragrance and other toxic chemicals that have become ubiquitous in daily life but are hidden from consumers.

What's hidden in fragrance is mind boggling

Makers of scented products don't need to disclose their complex cocktails of chemicals, which most of time are made from petrochemicals such as benzene, toluene, xylenes, and methanol. Chemicals from the phthalate family are also found in scented products, and go by such names as di-ethyl phthalate (DEP), and benzyl butyl phthalate. DEP has been linked to developmental abnormalities and learning disabilities in fetuses of exposed mothers.  In the creation of fragrances, other unintended toxic chemicals are produced too, such as formaldehyde and dioxin.

Laboratory tests commissioned by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and analyzed by Environmental Working Group (EWG), an organization dedicated to protecting consumers, found as many as 38 secret chemicals hidden in single scented products. The average scented product tested contained 14 secret chemicals not listed on product labels because they are viewed as industry trade secrets. These chemical concoctions are allowed to be designated as simply "fragrance" in the ingredients list.

"This complex mix of clandestine compounds in popular colognes and perfumes makes it impossible for consumers to make informed decisions about the products they consider buying," says EWG in their article Not So Sexy: Hidden Chemicals in Perfume and Cologne.

The tested products also contained an average of 10 chemicals known to be sensitizers that can trigger allergic reactions such as asthma, wheezing, headaches and contact dermatitis.  And a total of 12 different hormone disrupting chemicals were found in the tested products, with the average being four for each product. Six of these chemicals mimic unbalanced estrogen, and a seventh is associated with thyroid disruption.

Of the 91 hazardous ingredients found in the scented products tested, only 19 have been reviewed by Cosmetic Ingredient Review, an industry-funded group, and 27 have been assessed by the International Fragrance Association or the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials, groups that have developed voluntary standards for the chemicals used in fragrance products.


The hazards of these chemicals extend well beyond the use of perfume, cologne and body spray. EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database has a high hazard rating on over 11,000 products that contain fragrance. Many are common products found in today's homes.

In addition to soaps, fragrance is an ingredient in most shampoo, body wash, facial scrub, lotion, deodorant, shaving cream and pretty much everything we use in the bathroom to get ready for the day. These products are quickly and fully absorbed into the bloodstream because pores are still open after the warm morning shower. Even most toilet paper contains fragrance. But the exposure does not stop at the bathroom door.

Almost all cleaning products contain fragrance, including laundry detergents and the dryer sheets which coat clothes with a layer of scented chemicals. These chemicals can be easily absorbed from your clothes, sheets and pillowcases. Just walking by a neighbors' house when they are doing laundry can make you feel sick from the fumes coming out of the dryer vent!

Many brands of dish washing soap and automatic dishwashing detergent contain fragrance that coats your dishes, glasses and silverware with toxins that enter your body as you eat and drink. And the already deadly antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers have the addition of fragrance.

Then we seal up the house under the mistaken belief that outdoor air is bad  and indoor air is good.  This leaves us trapped inside our houses being poisoned by fragrance outgassing from almost every room.

It's time for a change

We've endured decades of advertising to condition us into believing that scented products are better. Their manufacturers have capitalized on the emotions that go with our sense of smell. But as the production of artificially scented products has increased exponentially in the past few decades, we have also witnessed a leap in allergies and a big rise in cancer and immune system disorders. It's time to stop buying these products. If you are experiencing ear, nose or throat irritation, nausea, irritability, dermatitis, brain fog or headaches, you have no time to lose.

Read the labels of everything you are thinking of buying. You will be astounded at the amount of products that contain fragrance. Just say NO to those products and move on to products made by people who have your best interests in mind.

See also:

Making Your Home Safe in the 21st Century

For more information:

About the author:

Barbara is a school psychologist and the author of Dividend Capture, a book on personal finance. She is a breast cancer survivor using bioidentical hormone therapy, and a passionate advocate of natural health with hundreds of articles on many aspects of health and wellness. She is the editor and publisher of AlignLife's Health Secrets Newsletter.

See other articles by the Barbara Minton here:

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