Are you aware of the health dangers of fragrance?
If you’ve ever climbed to the top of a mountain, swam in a freshwater spring or stood outside in the rain, you know none of these things smell like laundry detergent. So why do so many of us rely on these scents to know our home and laundry are “clean?”
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that “mountain fresh” laundry detergent is not made of scents derived from a fresh mountain. Product manufacturers have been working for years to warp our sense of what “clean” smells like, and they’ve been succeeding, haven’t they?
When there are 200 laundry detergents to choose from, at roughly the same price, how are you going to decide which one is best? The smell!
Unfortunately, these scents typically come from petroleum-based fragrances that are more likely to cause hormone disruption and allergic reactions than the snuggly-soft feelings and scents they promote.
Here is some additional information from this jarring article on the Environmental Working Group’s website:
Fragrances are collectively considered among the top five allergens in the world (de Groot 1997; Jansson 2001). They can also trigger asthma attacks (Norback 1995; Millqvist 1996). Researchers at the Universities of Washington and West Georgia who surveyed everyday Americans’ experiences with fragranced cleaning supplies found that nearly one in five suffered headaches, breathing difficulties or other problems when exposed to air fresheners (Caress 2009). A study led by Alexandra Farrow of Brunel University in the United Kingdom linked air fresheners in the home to higher incidence of diarrhea and earaches in infants and headaches and depression in their mothers (Farrow 2003). A Swiss study published this year found that use of air freshening sprays 4-7 days a week was associated with reduced heart rate variability, a marker of autonomic cardiac dysfunction (Mehta 2012). Because manufacturers routinely refuse to list individual ingredients in fragrances, independent researchers have difficulty conducting targeted studies to identify which fragrance chemicals raise the greatest concern
And then there are phthalates (thal-ates)…
One of the uses of phthalates is in fragrances, where they stabilize synthetic perfumes. If the product you have in your hand says “fragrance” on the bottle, there is a very high chance that there are phthalates in there.
Phthalates are in approximately 75% of ALL scented products!
Both the EPA and the Department of Health and Human Services have labeled some types of phthalates as “probable carcinogens” — which means they cause cancer in animals and may cause cancer in humans. The FDA calls them “possibly harmful.” The EU has banned some of them outright.
Phthalates are known as “endocrine disruptors” because they mimic the body’s reproductive hormones and have been linked to:
- early onset of puberty
- breast cancer
- decreased thyroid hormone production
- reproductive problems
- birth defects, particularly in boys
All this because of our obsession with scents and fragrance! Is it really worth it?
I know a lot of people are hesitant to rely on natural or unscented cleaning products because they’re not familiar with the lack of scent, and they don’t feel like their clothes, counters, or bathtubs are clean. Your bathroom doesn’t have to have a lingering bleach scent, your floors don’t have to smell like fake lemons in order to be clean, and your laundry doesn’t have to smell like some manufacturer’s made-up concoction of a “fresh linen” scent.
The real smell of clean might in fact involve mountains, rain, or a fresh Irish spring. The problem is that none of the fragrances we’re familiar with actually smell like these places. The cleanest, most sterile places in nature are not going to have a scent. If you climb to the top of the mountain, what are you going to smell? Fresh air. What does fresh air smell like? Nothing!
That’s the truth about the real smell of clean. The real smell of clean does not fit in a bottle. It does not have a name, and you cannot create it by filling a spray bottle with a special mixture of chemicals. The real smell of clean is nothing.
If you really LOVE your house to have a smell, not all fragrances are dangerous. Any of the scented Norwex products are made with “safe scents” that are non-toxic, phthalate free and won’t aggravate allergies. One of the favorites among Norwex fans is the Odor Eliminator which uses enzymes to kill the bacteria that cause bad smells and has a lovely (but temporary) light scent. It’s great in the washing machine or sprayed over furniture where pets may have left their unpleasant smells.