We all want our home environment to be healthy, especially for family members who have allergies or asthma. Did you know that synthetic fragrances, found in so many products, can actually make symptoms worse for allergy and asthma sufferers, as well as the chemically sensitive? It’s true.
Before we look at how to solve this issue, let’s look at some definitions.
First, what do I mean by fragrance? A fragrance can be called a fragrance, perfume, cologne, air freshener, scented, even a masking fragrance. It’s tricky reading labels. Personal care products must tell you what’s in them, but they’re allowed to just say fragrance without revealing what’s in it. You can’t even trust the word ‘unscented’ on a product because the will use a masking fragrance to hide some other stinky chemicals.
AND it’s not even the scent that’s the health issues, it’s the chemicals. Read on to learn more.
When it comes to household cleaners and other products there is no requirement to reveal these ingredients. So most of them don’t. You know they’re in them because of phrases that describe the scent: “Lemon Fresh”, “Fresh Clean Scent”, etc.
So, what’s the problem with these chemical fragrances? Many of the chemicals used are in a class called Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs for short. What are these VOCs? Unfortunately, the public doesn’t really know which VOCs are in fragrances. If you do some searching, you’ll find the list includes: toluene, ethanol, acetone, formaldehyde, limonene, benzene derivatives, methylene chloride, and many others. If you want to check out your products, start with the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
Why do they use VOCs in perfumes? Let’s start with why the perfume manufacturer makes a perfume. So you can smell good? Guess again. Like any other business, their primary purpose is to make a profit. Making a profit is definitely NOT a bad thing, as long as it’s done ethically without hurting anyone.
So, in order to sell more perfume, they want their perfume noticed. Let’s think about when you put that perfume on, or use that fragranced product. Let’s assume you spray it on. What happens when you spray water from a spray bottle? It quickly follows the laws of gravity and goes down. But the perfume manufacturer doesn’t want that result, they want their product to hang around in the air. And the VOCs allow them to do just that.
Do you have any idea how many products in your home contain fragrances? Unless you’ve gone out of your way to by fragrance-free products, I would bet that the vast majority of them do. And when someone says that it’s not a big deal because there’s a miniscule amount in that perfume, multiply that by all the products you have in your home AND all the products you encounter outside your home. That’s quite a toxic load. And if you can smell the fragrance (or even if you no longer can because you’ve acclimated to it) then you are breathing those chemicals in. And they get in your lungs – where they cause problems for the asthmatic. And they get in your bloodstream – where they tax the already taxed immune system of the person wrestling with allergies.
So why not do yourself and your family a favor? Research the products you use and find some healthier alternatives. Here are some ideas & websites to get you started:
- Use vinegar and baking soda for many of your cleaning needs.
- Use natural products in your home, such as Seventh Generation.
- Check the EWG site for the products you’re considering.
- Ditch the air fresheners and plugins. Use essential oils or create your own.
- Visit asthma & allergy friendly™ to find allergy & asthma friendly alternatives.
If you want more information, feel free to contact me. My home has been 100% fragrance-free for the past 10 years.