We all love things that smell good: roses, a freshly cut lemon or orange, a bouquet of lilies, the clean fragrance of the air after a rain. Natural fragrances, as they occur in the world untouched by man, add greatly to our quality of life, and enrich our sense of connection to our environment.
However, we are inundated with, even steeped in, unnatural fragrances rife with man-made chemicals and solvents. Laundry detergents, fabric softeners, every conceivable type of grooming product, household cleaning products, retail stores, candles…..the list goes on almost infinitely. Many might be surprised to learn that the word “fragrance” on a label can represent the presence of 600 different chemicals.
But are all these miscellaneous chemicals harmless?
- Toluene, a known neurotoxin, can produce headaches, nausea, and narcosis (stupor). Yet, the EPA finds Toluene in every single fragrance sample it collects.
- Musk Ambrette can cause central and peripheral nervous system damage.
- Linalool has been shown to produce respiratory disturbances, depression, reduced motor activity, and ataxic gait (loss of coordination while walking).
- Methyl Ethyl Ketone can cause numbness in the extremities, congestion in the liver and kidneys, emphysema, and narcosis.
- Propylene Glycol is considered an immunotoxic chemical.
- Solvents do just what their name implies: they dissolve things. One way these affect mammals is that they carry substances that would normally be excluded by our cell’s protective mechanisms right past those gatekeepers and into the vulnerable inner workings of the cell where our mitochondrial (the part of the cell that makes our energy) DNA can be attacked and damaged.
Common solvents include Acetone, Benzene, the aforementioned Toluene, and Isopropyl Alcohol.
- TIP: if you read labels on cosmetics and grooming products, any word that contains the letters “prop” anywhere within it will be a solvent.
The average consumer uses more than 18 different scented products daily. To do so adds tremendously to the toxic burden of the body.
As we work towards our best health, considering our total “toxic load” would certainly be worthwhile. And with so many exposures being outside our ability to control on this planet, it is important to take advantage of changing those exposures we can.
“The fragrance and cosmetic Industry is the least regulated Industry. There is no pre-clearing of chemicals with any agency”. Dr John Bailey, FDA