Blog: Mother Earth Heals
by Liora Leah

Toxins in Perfume

Many perfumes contain hazardous levels of certain dangerous chemicals, contributing to cancer, birth defects, allergies, asthma, neurological problems. Consumers are advised to avoid perfumes, colognes, and scents in all household products.

Date:   7/28/2005 1:55:48 AM   ( 10 y ) ... viewed 6531 times

Watch the UTube Video: What is Fragrance? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sN5IiaOaIt8  

From Seventh Generation, The Non-Toxic Times, July 2005
http://www.seventhgeneration.com/site/pp.asp?c=coIHKTMHF&b=913129#3


New Tests Show Many Perfumes Don’t Pass the Toxicological Sniff Test

For centuries, perfumes have been making an elegant mark on the world. Once used to cover up personal olfactory shortcomings, today these products are used for less urgent and more positive purposes. A new study of popular perfumes, however, says that these products are hardly heaven scent. Instead, too many contain harmful chemicals in unfortunate amounts.

A new report from Greenpeace has found that many of the world’s best-selling perfumes contain hazardous levels of certain dangerous chemicals. The organization had the Dutch chemistry lab TNO Environment and Geosciences analyze 36 randomly selected perfumes for the presence of two known toxic hazards: phthalates and synthetic musks, and discovered that both types of chemical were present in the vast majority of samples.

Thirty-four of the tested perfumes were found to contain diethyl phthalate (DEP). The highest levels were found in Calvin Klein’s Eternity for Women, which contained DEP levels of 2.2% by weight. Other heavy hitters included Melvita’s Iris Blue (1.1% by weight) and Jean-Paul Gaultier’s Le Male(just under 1% by weight).

Synthetic musks were found in 21 of the tested samples. The highest total quantities of these synthetic musks were found in the Body Shop’s White Musk (9.4% of total volume by weight), Gaultier’s Le Male (6.4% by weight), and Cartier’s Le Baiser Du Dragon (4.5% by weight).

Both phthalates and synthetic musks are hazardous to human health. Phthalates are solvents added to perfume formulas because they have an ability to easily evaporate at room temperature. This makes them ideal carriers for perfume fragrances. With phthalates added to its formula, a perfume becomes more "smellable" as evaporating phthalate molecules carry the scent with them into the air. Unfortunately, this ability to enter the air means that phthalates can also easily enter the lungs and the body, where they cause all kinds of havoc. Emerging evidence has linked exposure to phthalates to reproductive and developmental disorders, cancer, organ damage, childhood asthma, and allergies.

Synthetic musks are fragrances manufactured to replace the very expensive natural musks once traditionally used to make perfumes. These compounds have found a home in an a wide variety of scented products including laundry detergents, air fresheners, hand creams, and soaps. As with phthalates, synthetic musks persist in the environment and the human body, where they accumulate as part of the body burden of toxic chemicals that builds up over time in our tissues. Although definitive research is needed, initial studies of synthetic musks suggest that like many other persistent chemicals they, function as hormone-mimicking endocrine disruptors in animals, including humans, and may affect reproductive functions. According to an article in the April 28th edition of the International Herald Tribune, Croatian and American scientists have also discovered that these compounds disrupt the system used by mussels to prevent toxins from entering cells. This research is troubling because the human body uses virtually the same biological process to protect its own cells from toxic invaders.

With the exception of natural products, virtually all scented products from household cleaners to scratch-and-sniff kids books use artificial scents like synthetic musks because they are far cheaper to produce. Pound for pound, a natural scenting agent can cost as much as four thousand times its synthetic version.

Because so many modern products contain them, a recent government report targeted synthetic fragrances as one of the six categories of chemicals that should be given the highest priority for neurotoxicity testing along with insecticides, heavy metals, solvents, food additives, and air pollutants.

Shockingly, 84% of the ingredients used in today’s synthetic fragrances have never been tested for human toxicity, or have had only minimal testing. In a list of 2,983 chemicals used by the fragrance industry, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health identified 884 toxic substances. These compounds are capable of causing breathing difficulty, allergic reactions, multiple chemical sensitivities, and other serious maladies, including neurological damage. Key among these toxins are petroleum-derived VOCs, which are the actively "smell-able" components of virtually every synthetic fragrance. For it’s part, the FDA has acknowledged that the incidence of adverse reactions to perfume products appears to be increasing and that these reactions involve the immune and neurological systems.

Concerned consumers are advised to take the following precautions:

Avoid perfumes and colognes. Substitute natural essential oils if you’d like to scent your body on special occasions.

Scrutinize product labels carefully. Personal care products must list all their ingredients and many household cleaners will list at least some. Unless the manufacturer specifically references the use of a naturally-derived fragrance, assume that the product contains synthetic fragrances and avoid it. Similarly, consumers should assume that generic mentions of "scent" or "fragrance" refer to synthetic types.

• If you like scented products, pick those that use natural scents or essential oils to provide a pleasant smell.

Unscented products are another alternative.  Be aware that even products with no smell may be using synthetic fragrances to mask existing odors and produce a neutral "non-scent" (Liora's Note: these are labeled as "masking fragrance" in product ingredients list.)


• If you need to deodorize a room, don’t use air fresheners, which are typically loaded with synthetic fragrances that simply overwhelm bad smells. Instead, use natural minerals like baking soda and borax to control common odor sources and to deodorize when you clean. Locate sources of odors and eliminate them when and wherever possible. Since many odors are the result of microbial action, spraying trouble spots and potentially problematic areas like trash cans, compost containers, etc. with an undiluted 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide (the concentration typically available in stores) will remove many smells.

For more information about the Greenpeace report, see http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/perfume-an-investigatio...

Perfume Affects the Environment: "The Downstream Dangers of Your Perfume" http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1216/p17s02-sten.html

"Toxins in Cosmetics"  http://curezone.com/blogs/m.asp?f=309&i=2

"Products Cause Bad Air" http://curezone.com/blogs/m.asp?f=309&i=1

"Pesticides: Body Burden" http://curezone.com/blogs/m.asp?f=309&i=61


"Toxins in Newborns" http://curezone.com/blogs/m.asp?f=309&i=98

"Liora's List: Homemade Cleaning Supplies" http://curezone.com/blogs/m.asp?f=309&i=87


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