Thursday, July 18, 2013

Avoiding Dangerous "Fragrances"

Have you ever had someone walk past you wearing perfume or some other fragrance and received an instant headache?  Scented candles, soaps and detergents and even shampoos all contain fragrances that can be harmful to your health, and many can accumulate in your body and increase your toxic load, leading to lowered immune function and future health problems.  Let’s explore some of the most dangerous fragrances, where they hide and how you can avoid them.

Why Avoid Chemical Fragrances?

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Chemical fragrances contain just that, chemicals.  Here are a few statistics that may surprise you:

* Researchers have found that people who were regularly exposed to cleaning sprays were 30 to 50 percent more likely to develop asthma.

* The NRDC study showed that many air fresheners and scented products contain phthalates, which are hormone-disrupting chemicals that can be particularly dangerous for young children and unborn babies.  Exposure to phthalates can affect testosterone levels and lead to reproductive abnormalities, including abnormal genitalia and reduced sperm production.

* 95% of chemicals used in fragrances are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum. They include benzene derivatives, aldehydes and many other known toxics and sensitizers, which are all known to cause cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions.

* A 1991 study performed by the EPA found numerous harmful chemicals are commonly used in fragrance products, including acetone, benzaldehyde, benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, camphor, ethanol, ethyl acetate, limonene, linalool, and methylene chloride.  Alone or in combination with each other, when inhaled these can cause central nervous system disorders, dizziness, nausea, slurred speech, drowsiness, irritation to the mouth, throat, eyes, skin, lungs and GI tract, kidney damage, headache, respiratory failure, ataxia, and fatigue, among other symptoms and illnesses. 

So How Can You Avoid These Chemicals?

There are many wonderful options to go chemical free and still have a good-smelling world around you.  Here are a few tips:

* Switch to natural cosmetics, hair-care and personal products.  Not only does this eliminate your exposure to harmful fragrances, it’s better for the environment.

Image via Flickr
* Skip the perfume and use natural oils.  Essential oils, and combinations of them, make wonderful natural perfumes and they won’t harm your health. 

* Buy non-toxic and biodegradable cleaning products.  They won’t use harmful fragrance chemicals, which protects your health and the environment.

* Get rid of your paraffin candles.  Use soy or beeswax candles so you aren’t throwing petroleum and chemicals into the air you're breathing. 

* Skip the commercial air fresheners.  Air fresheners typically work one of two ways; they neutralize your receptors, numbing them so you don’t smell anything, or they cover scents up with stronger scents.  Neither is ideal.  If needed, use an essential oil diffuser with natural oils to freshen the air in your home naturally. 

The fragrance industry, including cleaning products, isn’t heavily regulated.  Nor are the chemicals studied for their effects on our health and environment.  From mild symptoms like headaches and fatigue, to dire illnesses like cancer and autoimmune disorders, chemical fragrances aren’t doing you or your health any good.  Take good care of yourself and switch to scents that are more natural today.

To find natural cosmetics and personal care products, check out The Natural Product Directory. This site offers helpful reviews, as well as safety and other ratings that can help you choose natural products that work effectively.

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