Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Correct Spelling of Perfume = POISON


Fragrance hypersensitivity has become the most common allergy among adults. Over two millions Americans suffer from a condition called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). This means they’re either allergic to the fragrances that go into perfumes, colognes and other scented products,  and/or to the additional twelve to eighteen toxins typically added from a cauldron of 5,000 chemicals.    

These chemicals can cause a variety of allergic reactions, such as headaches, migraines, asthma, wheezing, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, inability to concentrate, dizziness, raw throat, and skin allergies such as hives and rashes.

Diethyl phthalate (DEP) and DEHP (now banned in Europe), commonly used in fragrances, have been linked to breast cancer, liver, kidney, and lung damage, weight gain, diabetes, and hormone dysfunction. Other toxins affect brain function and have been linked to Attention Deficit Disorder.   Parabens, frequently used as preservatives, influence early onset of puberty in girls.

A study at the University of Rochester found that women who had used perfumes and other fragranced products twenty-four hours prior to a urine test had three times the amount of the phthalate MEP (linked to breast cancer) in their urine than did women who had not used any fragranced products.   

Even so-called “natural” perfumes or colognes often contain an additive called Geraniol, safe by itself but transformed into the allergen Geranial when in contact with skin enzymes and acids.

On October 3 of this year, a passenger on an air flight reacted to a perfume scent on board and blacked out.  The emergency crew that administered oxygen saved the man’s life.    

I began to wonder – was I putting dangerous chemicals on myself, endangering others, and polluting the environment?      
With the help of a magnifying glass, I read the label on the Lustre-Glo can, which promised to give my house plants “the glow of health.” Although no ingredients were listed, there was a warning to flush immediately if I got any Lustre-Glo on my skin, and if the discomfort continued, to call a doctor.

Lustre-Glo was apparently safe for plants but perilous for humans.  How many other ways was I killing myself?

My deoderant warned:  "Don't wear on broken skin and contact a doctor before using if you have kidney disease” (yup, in that order).   Of the 14 four-syllable ingredients listed, I understood only one -- “fragrance.”  

Now that was frightening; after all, if the manufacturer was willing to list ingredients that sounded like a prescription for chemical warfare, how much more perilous were the toxins that weren’t disclosed; that were hidden within the catchall of “fragrance”?   

My hair gel listed 24 ingredients; among them, Geraniol.  Remember Geraniol?  “…safe until it comes into contact with skin enzymes and acids…”  And my favorite perfume, Coty Musk, didn’t list any ingredients. I Googled “musk” and learned that all musks contain Galaxoide and Tonalide, two contaminants found to harm the endocrine glands.  I pitched the Musk.          

Neither my Revlon Powder nor Blush listed its contents, and the label on my nail polish was unreadable, written in pale white ink and in letters the size of a dot – this size: .
My hair spray listed 31 ingredients, and included the ubiquitous word “fragrance,” while the bathroom freshener contained Benzene and Formaldehyde, two chemicals linked to cancer. 

How can it be that hundreds of chemicals used in every day products go to market untested and that potentially toxic chemicals can be hidden from consumers under the guise of “fragrance”? Isn’t anyone minding the store?   

The National Academy of Sciences has repeatedly asked the FDA to fund research to study the long term effect of toxins on human health.  They have been ignored.  As for mandating that manufacturers list all ingredients in fragranced products on packaging, this isn’t going to happen; at least, not until the Federal Government rescinds the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, which exempts manufacturers from disclosure.  Why?  To protect their “proprietary blends” and “trade secrets.”   

Nice!  Protect the potential killers but not the victims!

More people are using more fragrances and more manufacturers are adding more toxins to their products.  The longer a person is exposed to toxins, the greater the possibility that he or she will experience MCS.  Twenty-five percent of the U.S. population is currently projected to have fragrance-related breathing problems by the age of 65.  

But we don’t have to take it!  We can fight back by:

1.      Contacting our U.S. Congressperson and pressing for repeal of the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act and demanding that all fragranced products be tested before going to market.   

2.      Boycott fragrance producers who do not list all ingredients (and let them
3.      Ask that your workplace and other public venues become perfume-free environments.  If your health is being compromised, apprise management of the number of successful lawsuits brought against offenders under the American Disabilities Act (ADA).

4.      Join one or more of the organizations fighting for a fragrance-free
Environment:  The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (www.safecosmetics.org), the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org), and perfumestinks@perfume stinks.

5.      Ask magazines and newspapers publishers who deliver toxic perfume samples inside their pages to remove them before mailing to you.  If they refuse, unsubscribe. 

6.   Follow the tacit advice of perfume manufacturers who have created perfumes that replicate the smell of soap (i.e. Dia PerfumeGold, Happy Heart, Cal Che, Faer des 4, Clean Shower, and My Voyage) by throwing out your perfumes and showering daily -- with soap.  You will save your health, the environment and between $75 and $270 dollars.

7.      And, finally, always carry a mini-fan with you for self-defense.  Blow unwanted scents back to their offenders.  

THE BOTTOM WHINE   Breathing in fragranced products may be more hazardous to your health than inhaling second-hand smoke.                

                                                             Whiningly yours, Carol


  1. VERY informative, and a bit sad! The thing that was supposed to bring pleasure and possibly even attract someone to you, are poisonous and might likely chase them away. This has always been true for those who "bathe" in perfume...but for the rest of us...well, now I have been warned.