Mmmm, the Sweet Smell of Toxins in My Home


“Scented Consumer Products Shown to Emit Many Unlisted Chemicals” the headline reads.  This report comes as no surprise to me.  But there are many consumers who believe, (albeit delusionally) that corporations who sell them great smelling products have the consumer’s health and wellness in mind.  Corporations are out to make a buck.  If you think a product is more likely to work because is smells a certain way, and they are not required by law to disclose the toxic ingredients necessary to acheive that sellable smell, you can bet they aren’t going to discose those toxins.  From Science Daily:

The sweet smell of fresh laundry may contain a sour note. Widely used fragranced products — including those that claim to be “green” — give off many chemicals that are not listed on the label, including some that are classified as toxic.

A study led by the University of Washington discovered that 25 commonly used scented products emit an average of 17 chemicals each. Of the 133 different chemicals detected, nearly a quarter are classified as toxic or hazardous under at least one federal law. Only one emitted compound was listed on a product label, and only two were publicly disclosed anywhere. The article is published online in the journal Environmental Impact Assessment Review.

“We analyzed best-selling products, and about half of them made some claim about being green, organic or natural,” said lead author Anne Steinemann, a UW professor of civil and environmental engineering and of public affairs. “Surprisingly, the green products’ emissions of hazardous chemicals were not significantly different from the other products.”

More than a third of the products emitted at least one chemical classified as a probable carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and for which the EPA sets no safe exposure level.

Manufacturers are not required to disclose any ingredients in cleaning supplies, air fresheners or laundry products, all of which are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Neither these nor personal care products, which are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, are required to list ingredients used in fragrances, even though a single “fragrance” in a product can be a mixture of up to several hundred ingredients, Steinemann said.  …

The most common emissions included limonene, a compound with a citrus scent; alpha-pinene and beta-pinene, compounds with a pine scent; ethanol; and acetone, a solvent found in nail polish remover.

All products emitted at least one chemical classified as toxic or hazardous. Eleven products emitted at least one probable carcinogen according to the EPA. These included acetaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, formaldehyde and methylene chloride. … continue reading

So how do you avoid the toxins?  Clean simpler (and cheaper).  Use vinegar or non toxic products like JR Watkins, open the windows to ventilate, air dry your laundry and definitely don’t use dryer sheets.  Use Chalk as an eco stain remover and switch to a non toxic detergent like Seventh Generation.  The key with every product you use is to avoid anything that has “fragrance” listed as an ingredient.  This is the industry’s way of including a cocktail of toxins under the pretense of “trade secret”.

Related Articles:

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5 Steps to a Non-Toxic Lifestyle

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