What’s in that smell?


Fragrance and our Health

We live in a culture where fragrance is everywhere. Consider for a moment all the fragrant things we come in contact with during a typical day: laundry detergent, soaps, lotions and body care products, cleaning supplies and air fresheners.

The pictures on the labels tell us that these products are made from something natural like flowers, citrus and vanilla…but what’s really in them? Good question, no one knows because there is no US regulation that requires a manufacturer to put the ingredients of fragrances on the packaging.

According to the Environmental Working Group, “When you see “fragrance” on a personal care product’s label, read it as “hidden chemicals.” A major loophole in FDA’s federal law lets manufacturers of products like shampoo, lotion, and body wash include nearly any ingredient in their products under the name “fragrance” without actually listing the chemical.”

In reality, these fragrant products are littered with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) that can be hazardous to your health. Many of their negative health effects include asthma, eczema, migranes, infertility and cancer.

What can we do?

Start to read labels, if you aren’t sure if your products are harmful, search the EWG’s Skin Deep Database.

Choose “fragrance free” products whenever possible. If the product has been labeled “unscented” the manufacturer has probably included other chemicals to mask the scent.

Never use air freshners, they pollute your indoor air and will leave you with a room full of toxins. Instead consider opening windows and doors and using natural deodorizers like vinegar and baking soda.

Scented candles are very popular around the holidays but are also very toxic. Consider buying essential oils like cinnamon or peppermint and put them on a cotton ball or cloth. They will have the same effect without all of the dangers.