When it comes to our senses, smell is perhaps the most powerful. The scent of something can bring back memories of people, places, and events. It is our sense of smell that drives the fragrance industry, too. An enormous industry that encompasses perfumes, personal care products, air fresheners, laundry and cleaning products, candles, and even clothing. Yet, these chemically derived fragrances come with a risk. Increasing research is connecting many fragrance chemicals to cancer, hormone disruption, asthma, allergies, birth defects and neurotoxicity.
Europe has proactively responded to this danger by enacting legislation requiring the labeling of 26 fragrances. In the U.S., this is not the case. Consumer safety groups are seeking to change this by forcing companies to list the scent chemicals in their products. The goal is to raise public awareness of the dangers of these synthetic scents because they contain “endocrine-disrupting chemicals.” Approximately 3,000 fragrance chemicals are currently in use today. All used to create appealing scents for things like perfume, fabric softener, shampoo and aftershave. But our exposure doesn’t stop there. We are also subjected to an abundance of chemicals outside of the home, too.
In addition to the many health problems scent chemicals can cause, an increasing number of people are experiencing fragrance-contact allergies. These allergic reactions are similar to any other allergic reaction with redness, itching, swelling and inflammation. However, the problem with fragrance-contact allergies is that a person doesn’t know the cause. There is currently no labeling of chemical scents on U.S. consumer goods.
Fortunately, there is good news. It appears that companies are beginning to take notice of the consumer safety groups and taking steps to change their labels. Much like what is now done in Europe. Until that time, be aware of the scents you have in your home and limit your exposure. You can also find out about the safety of a particular product at the Environmental Working Group’s website at http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
Keep what you smell naturally derived.