I was on Facebook Monday, the first day of spring, scanning my newsfeed and several headlines garnered my attention, including “It’s National Fragrance Day and it’s time to party and celebrate our favorite scents!,” “The Definitive Guide to Smelling your Best” and “Get your Free 10-Piece Fragrance Sample Pack using code, FRAGRANCE.”
National Fragrance Day Isn’t Something to Celebrate
I got to tell you, these Facebook headlines made me mad. Not because going to church on Sunday mornings is a challenge as the wife and I are engulfed by perfume and cologne every which way – nor because we are besieged daily by the toxic scent of dryer sheets from well-intentioned consumers.
— Living Natural Today (@livenatural2day) October 20, 2015
Rather, it made me mad because manufacturers – in an effort to sell product – ram down the throat of consumers a marketing message that is literally toxic to our health. And it made me mad because federal legislation is so outdated and ineffective. Let me explain.
Synthetic Fragrances are Toxic
Synthetic fragrances – in products like “air-fresheners,” candles and perfumes – are a giant source of toxins as they pump harmful chemicals into the air. Even air fresheners marketed as “all-natural” or “unscented” may contain hazardous chemicals such as phthalates and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) like benzene and carcinogenic formaldehyde.
Shhhh! The Chemical Make-up of Fragrances is a Big Secret!
Fragrance is defined by the FDA as “a combination of chemicals that gives each perfume or cologne (including those used in other products) its distinct scent. Fragrance ingredients may be derived from petroleum or natural raw materials.” You may notice the term, fragrance, listed as an ingredient in your air freshener, laundry detergent, candle, skin care product or perfume.
However, did you know that hundreds of chemicals can be used under the umbrella term, “fragrance?” Manufacturers do not have to reveal the ingredients that comprise the “fragrance.” They are protected as trade secrets. According to the Environmental Working Group, “Fragrance secrecy is legal due to a giant loophole in the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1973, which requires companies to list cosmetics ingredients on the product labels but explicitly exempts fragrance.”
Chemicals in Fragrances — Untested… Unlabeled!
Unfortunately, the chemicals in fragrances are either untested – or unlabeled. In fact, of the over 5,000 ingredients used in the fragrance industry, only approximately 1,300 have been tested and evaluated by the industry’s International Research Institute for Fragrance Materials. Between inadequate testing and ingredient loopholes, this poses a great concern.
While the chemical makeup of the fragrances is kept secret, we do know, however, that most fragrances contain parabens and phthalates – two of the chemicals most detrimental to our health. Phthalates are added to make the scent last longer.
There are Non-Toxic Options!
Luckily, there are non-toxic options available – and a host of Do-it-Yourself options – that will help minimize our exposure to these harmful chemicals. Earlier this year, the wife put together a comprehensive 14-day online program focused on making our homes safe from chemicals and dangerous toxins. Fragrances – in products like air-fresheners, candles and perfumes – are such a giant source of toxins that she devoted an entire day to the topic. On Day 7 of the 14-day program she talks about fragrances, the dangerous chemicals in fragrances and she offers 17 action steps that can be easily and affordably implemented. She also offers a couple of different Do-it-Yourself options to freshen the air without the toxic ingredients. If you would like more information on this program, please visit Out with Toxins, In with your Health: A 14-Day Online Program to Help You Minimize Toxins Throughout Five Rooms of Your Home.
Knowledge is Power!
And finally, if you do nothing else, please arm yourself with knowledge about toxins and the detrimental impact they can have on you and your family. Sign up to receive her free newsletter, and as her gift to you, receive a free guide chock-full of useful resources – including links to real food bloggers who share recipes, information on organic standards, GMOs, chemicals & products, recommended “safe products” and much more.
You can also listen to an interview she did on the Voice America Health & Wellness Channel where she talks specifically about strategies we can all implement to reduce toxins in the home.
Wishing you abundant health!