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Common scents


What’s the deal with Americans and smells? No doubt it is very important, the sense of smell, bad smells and good smells, but it does seem that in our community we’ve taken it to new heights. And often times to our detriment.

We know things are “good” if they smell pleasant, whether it’s milk or under arm deodorant. When I discovered all my sons allergies and skin disorders related to scents, the challenge to find unscented products was almost overwhelming. This despite the fact that almost 40% of American consumers have a negative reaction to fragrance in products. A study by professor Anne Steinemann of the University of Washington may have an explanation.

Fragrances are chemicals. In Steinemann’s research, she found that one third of the chemicals detected in scents were classified as toxic or hazardous under federal law. More than a third of the products she tested had at least one chemical classified as carcinogenic by the EPA. But the mere fact that these chemicals are included in commercial products means that in spite of this, the EPA has set no safe exposure levels for those chemicals.

And don’t think going green saves you. There was no difference between green or even organic products and the ones that didn’t make those claims. Even bad chemicals can be organic.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission monitors these types of toxins. However, manufacturers are not required to disclose ingredients in cleaning supplies, air fresheners, or laundry products. The FDA watches personal care. Neither requires listing of fragrances. There is no way to know whether that “fresh pine” is toxic or not. For your health, lean toward unscented where a product states it is unscented.

Source: Our Toxic Times, University of Washington, Dr. Cathie-Ann Lippman


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