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Fragrances Are Chemicals, Not Flowers


Ninety-five percent of all perfumes made today are made from synthetic chemicals, usually derived from petroleum or coal tar.  Nearly one-third of the chemical additives used in perfumes and other scented products and are known to be toxic.  And just because the others may not be known to

be toxic, doesn’t mean they are safe. for kids  The majority of chemicals used in the United States, including pesticides, never have been tested.  Many perfumes contain over 200 such chemicals and some contain as many as 600. Over 5,000 different chemicals are used in the manufacture of perfumes. Perfumes contain hundreds of lipophilic solvents. When applied to the surface of the skin (or inhaled) they are absorbed into the bloodstream, carried into the brain, liver and kidneys, and stored in fatty tissues throughout the body. As far as perfumes are concerned, what goes on the skin goes through the skin.

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adult fragrances 

The Health Risks of The Twenty Most Common Chemicals Found in 31 Fragrances Tested In A 1991 EPA Study:

Health effects of Pollution click to enlarge


·  ACETONE (cologne, dishwashing liquid and detergent, nail enamel remover) On EPA, RCRA, CERCLA Hazardous Waste lists. "Inhalation can cause dryness of the mouth and throat; dizziness, nausea,  lack of coordination,  slurred speech, drowsiness, and, in severe exposures, coma." "Acts primarily as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant." [ACETONE (Immediately Dangerous To Life or Health Concentrations (IDLHs)]

·    BENZALDEHYDE (perfume, cologne, hairs pray, laundry bleach, deodorants, detergent, Vaseline lotion, shaving cream, shampoo, bar soap, dishwasher detergent) ‑‑ Narcotic. Sensitizer. "Local anesthetic, CNS depressant"; "irritation to the mouth, throat, eyes, skin, lungs, and GI tract causing nausea and abdominal pain." "May cause kidney damage." "Do not use  with contact lenses."

·    BENZYL ACETATE (perfume, cologne, shampoo, fabric softener, stickup air freshener, dishwashing liquid and detergent, soap, hairspray, bleach, after shave, deodorants) ‑‑ Carcinogenic (linked to pancreatic cancer); "From vapors: irritating to eyes and respiratory passages, exciting cough." "In mice: hyperaemia of the lungs." "Can be absorbed through the skin causing systemic effects." "Do not flush to sewer."

·    BENZYL ALCOHOL (perfume, cologne, soap, shampoo, nail enamel remover, air freshener, laundry bleach and detergent, Vaseline lotion, deodorants, fabric softener) ‑‑ "irritating to the upper respiratory tract" ä "headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drop in blood pressure, CNS depression, and death in severe cases due to respiratory failure."

·    CAMPHOR (perfume, shaving cream, nail enamel, fabric softener, dishwasher detergent, nail color, stickup air freshener) ‑‑ "local irritant and CNS stimulant,""readily absorbed through body tissues," "irritation of eyes, nose and throat,"  "dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles and convulsions" "Avoid inhalation of vapors."


·    ETHANOL (perfume, hair spray, shampoo, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid and detergent, laundry detergent, shaving cream, soap, Vaseline lotion, air fresheners, nail color and remover, paint and varnish remover) ‑‑ On EPA Hazardous Waste list; symptoms: "fatigue; irritating to eyes and upper respiratory tract even in low concentrations..." "Inhalation of      ethanol vapors can have effects similar to those characteristic of ingestion. These include an initial stimulatory effect followed by drowsiness, impaired vision, ataxia, stupor..." Causes CNS disorder.

·    ETHYL ACETATE (after shave, cologne, perfume, shampoo, nail color, nail enamel remover, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid) ‑‑ Narcotic. On EPA Hazardous Waste list; "irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract"; "may cause headache and narcosis (stupor)" "defatting effect on skin and may cause drying and cracking"; "may cause anemia with leukocytosis and damage to liver and kidneys." "Wash thoroughly after handling." [ETHYL ACETATE (IDLHs)]

·    LIMONENE (perfume, cologne, disinfectant spray, bar soap, shaving cream, deodorants, nail color and remover, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid, air fresheners, after shave, bleach, paint and varnish remover) ‑‑ Carcinogenic. "Prevent its contact with skin or eyes because it is an irritant and sensitizer." "Always wash thoroughly after using this material and before eating, drinking, ...applying cosmetics. Do not inhale limonene vapor."

·    LINALOOL (perfume, cologne, bar soap, shampoo, hand lotion, nail enamel remover, hairspray, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, Vaseline lotion, air fresheners, bleach powder, fabric softener, shaving cream, after shave, solid deodorant) ‑‑ Narcotic. "respiratory disturbances"; "Attracts bees." "In animal tests: ataxic gait, reduced spontaneous motor activity and depression ... development of respiratory disturbances leading to death."; "depressed frog‑heart activity." Causes CNS disorder.

·    METHYLENE CHLORIDE (shampoo, cologne, paint and varnish remover) ‑‑ Banned by the FDA in 1988! No enforcement possible due to trade secret laws protecting chemical fragrance industry. On EPA, RCRA, CERCLA Hazardous Waste lists. "Carcinogenic"; "Absorbed, stored in body fat, it metabolizes to carbon monoxide, reducing oxygen‑carrying capacity of the blood." "Headache, giddiness, stupor, irritability, fatigue, tingling in the limbs."


Causes CNS disorder. ·    a‑PINENE (bar and liquid soap, cologne, perfume, shaving cream, deodorants, dishwashing liquid, air freshener) ‑‑Sensitizer (damaging to the immune system).

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·    g‑TERPINENE (cologne, perfume, soap, shaving cream, deodorant, air freshener) ‑‑ "Causes asthma and CNS disorders."

·    a‑TERPINEOL (perfume, cologne, laundry detergent, bleach powder, laundry bleach, fabric softener, stickup air freshener, Vaseline lotion, cologne, soap, hair spray, after shave, roll‑on deodorant) ‑‑ "highly irritating to mucous membranes"; "Aspiration into the lungs can produce pneumonitis or even fatal edema." Can also cause "excitement, ataxia (loss of muscular coordination), hypothermia, CNS and respiratory  depression, and headache."  "Prevent repeated or prolonged skin contact."

Why would anyone deliberately expose themselves, their children, or their coworkers to these deadly toxic chemicals?  It is not due to lack of concern, but rather lack of knowledge. The perfume industry, through massive advertising campaigns, has convinced you that fragrances not only are  safe, but that they are absolutely necessary to your attractiveness.  The biggest lie yet is advertising that fragrances are healthful when used as aromatherapy! An a common misconception exists that somehow natural perfumes such as essential oils are automatically safer and shouldn't be a problem for sensitive individuals. However, natural does not necessarily mean nontoxic. Even crude oil is natural.

      The only safe assumption about scented products is that they contain numerous volatile toxic compounds (VOCs) which constantly vaporize into the air and attach themselves to the skin, hair, or clothing of anyone in the area, not just to those who deliberately apply them.  They stay in the air and mix together with other fragrances making a kind of toxic soup, not unlike offices that are filled with different people wearing different fragrances. They naturally attach themselves to whatever is around -- even you!  So when a person wearing fragrance walks through an area, their fragrance is left behind attaching itself to whatever is around and continues to volatilize into the air.


      Have you ever personally experienced allergic symptoms such as itchy or watery eyes, coughing or sneezing spells after smelling or applying a fragrance, washing dishes or doing your laundry?  Those are only the minor symptoms. Many experience more debilitating symptoms such as migraines, respiratory problems, or inability to think clearly after just a brief exposure to any fragrance. They are Environmentally Ill (EI), also known as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS),  often as a result of a life time of everyday low-level exposures to fragrances.  Or it maybe may have from an acute exposure such as a chemical spill. Regardless of the reason, please remember once they were healthy just like you and used products containing fragrance. No one is exempt from becoming chemically sensitive.

/MCS Is Real – And It Is Widespread
If you’ve never heard of EI/MCS, or if you’ve heard of it only through jokes or an uninformed television commentator who has said “it’s all in their heads,” you may be wondering if it is for real.

      Actually, EI/MCS is very widespread – and rapidly increasing all over the world.  It is estimated 15% to 30% of the U.S. population has physical reactions to one or more types of synthetic substances.  That is more than 40 million people in the U. S. alone.  Often however, it goes undiagnosed, or is improperly diagnosed as a psychological problem, because reactions to chemicals often are delayed and aren’t something physicians are taught to recognize.  And, since the person may otherwise look healthy, just as a diabetic or person with MS may look healthy, others often are reluctant to believe that EI/MCS is real.

      Unfortunately, anyone can become chemically sensitive.  Whether you are an athlete, secretary, business person, scientist, industrial worker, teacher, student, adult, child, etc., you are not immune from EI/MCS.  It is a breakdown of a person’s immune system and natural detoxification mechanism resulting from chemical overload – and such an overload can result from repeated “low-level” exposures to products we’ve been told are safe, such as perfume, pesticides, “air fresheners,” household cleaners, etc.  Of course, the people who profit from the manufacture and sale of chemicals, including fragrance manufacturers, would like everyone to assume that “ordinary” chemicals are tested and safe. That is false. 

Don’t Take it Personal . . . It’s Not The Smell
Remember, this is not about you and how you smell – it is about the person who is chemically sensitive and their need to avoid fragrances.  Even the briefest exposure to synthetic fragrances (chemicals) may make him or her suddenly extremely ill.  Symptoms can range from migraine headaches to severe respiratory distress, including anaphylactic shock, or even death. It is a serious health issue and should be taken seriously.

      If someone asks you not to expose them to your fragrance, please do not take it personally and get upset.  Would you get upset if someone asked you not to use paint remover, asbestos, or smoke around them? Probably not. Well, fragrances contain some of the chemicals in these products and many more, some of which are listed above.

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      You may believe you are not wearing fragrance because you didn’t apply any that day, but your clothing may contain significant residual fragrance from weeks ago.  And it is still toxic to the person with EI/MCS.  Or it may be in your personal care products, such as cosmetics, soaps, hand lotions, deodorants, shampoos, hair gels, hair sprays, detergents, fabric softeners, etc. Most are loaded with synthetic fragrances, and are likely to have a negative impact on the immediate health of a person with environmental illness.  Do not take offense if the person backs away from you or asks you to refrain from wearing fragrances around them.  They don’t mean to offend. They are not saying that “you stink” or “you make me sick.”  They are just trying to protect their health so they can get through the day without getting ill.  Any single exposure could put them in bed for the next 24 to 48 hours.

      A person who is chemically sensitive may look healthy, just as someone with diabetes or MS may look healthy, and often others doubt this disability is real. It may even be difficult for you to believe, but please respect an EI/MCS person’s need to be free from exposure to fragrances.

      For additional information about this disability and environmental concerns, please visit the following web sites.

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