You love smelling really nice, right? Well, you’re not alone. Most people do, not knowing that smelling awesome may come at a cost. As awesome as your scents might be, the reality is that synthetic scents can often contain toxic substances and compounds that can really hurt your health.
So, chances are that those favorite fragrances or beauty products with the awesome scent that you like a lot might be causing some damage to your body as we speak right now. Unfortunately, these chemicals tend to stay in the body long after the fragrances must have worn off.
To help you understand this, you must first have an idea of what constitutes the average synthetic scent. You see, the average fragrance is made up of 95 percent petrochemical products, some of which are even on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of toxic materials and hazardous waste. Some of these products include:
- Phthalates –DEP and DEHP
- Derivatives of benzene
Also interesting is a 1989 report released by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health that puts the number of toxic ingredients used in scents by the fragrance industry at nearly 900. That means of the almost 3,000 ingredients frequently used in the industry, about 30 percent are considered really dangerous to your health.
Please note that the FDA can do little or nothing about these chemicals right now seeing as they aren’t included in their list of regulated products and substances. This means that they have limited oversight and monitoring when it comes to skin care and beauty products.
As a matter of fact, barring the use of chemicals containing mercury, chloroform and food additives, beauty product manufacturers can get away with virtually any synthetic chemical that they use in fragranced lotions and perfumes without being worried about any FDA clampdown.
This is all possible courtesy of the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act.
In the light of this therefore, it is has become imperative for the people to protect themselves from being exposed to some of these toxic chemical substances that are used in scented products and fragrances. Understanding the side effects is always a great place to start. Following, we will be discussing synthetic scents side effects in detail.
Common Synthetic Scents Side Effects
Compounds in Scents Linked to Neurological Disorders
Multiple studies carried out by have shown that there might be a possible connection between certain neurological disorders and synthetic scents. Unfortunately, these effects stay and manifest long after the individuals might have used some of these scents.
Compounds like acetaldehyde, benzophenone, BHA, butoxyethanol, and chloromethane can cause significant neurological damage. Children are having seizures when they inhale or have some form of contact with these compounds, while adults have been known to pass out. These compounds are often found in air fresheners, perfumes, and laundry products.
Even when there aren’t significant neurological damages, they can still impair your judgment or cognitive abilities. For instance, Acetone which is a commonly used ingredient in detergents, liquid soaps and nail polish removers have been known to cause coma when inhaled in large quantities.
Methylene Chloride on the other hand, is known for negatively affecting the central nervous system. As volatile organic compounds, these substances are pretty much everywhere as they are often dissipated into the air. Even more interesting is the fact that many of them are found in popular scented products.
Possibility of Cancers
Cancers are one of the most dreaded diseases in the world. They are also one of the leading causes of death among the young and adult populations. While there are many causes of cancer, one that’s particularly alarming is the use of scented products in the home, office and everywhere else.
Some of the compounds that make up the scents react adversely with other volatile organic compounds in the air, forming dangerous chemical air borne compounds like formaldehyde, a well known carcinogen.
Other popularly used compounds include benzyl acetate which has been linked to pancreatic cancer (one of the most aggressive cancers in the world with a 3 percent survival rate), p-dichlorobenzene, and limonene found in perfumes, soaps, deodorants and shaving creams. Propylparaben and dichloromethane are linked to breast cancer, while benzophenone is linked to liver cancer.
If you are exposed to these for prolonged periods, you could develop anything from skin to lung cancer –even when you don’t smoke. Bottom line, it doesn’t matter if you smoke or not.
Some of your skin care and beauty products may already be doing the damage. And when these aren’t causing cancers, they are causing significant organ damage. For example, benzaldehyde and ethyl acetate can cause kidney and liver damage.
May Be Partly Responsible for Respiratory Disorders
A recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimate showed that almost 25 million Americans have been diagnosed with respiratory disorders like asthma. And it looks like the numbers are on an upward trajectory, with the Hispanic and African American population recording higher incidents of asthma attacks.
About 72 percent of all asthma sufferers state that their attacks can be induced by the smell of fragrances. Does this mean therefore, that there may be a link between some of the compounds in these scented substances? Possibly.
According to Dr. Stanley Fineman, an allergist with Emory University and the Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic, “The chemicals in some of these products can trigger the nasal congestion, sneezing and the runny nose. With the asthmatics, there's really good data showing their lung function changes when they're exposed to these compounds.”.
For instance, Toluene, which is considered a hazardous waste and capable of triggering asthma as well as difficulty in breathing, is a major component of many scented soaps and fragrances.
a-Terpineol which is commonly found in colognes, perfumes, laundry detergent and fabric softener, can cause pneumonitis when it is breathed in. g-Terpinene commonly found in air fresheners and colognes has been linked to asthma attacks too.
In fact, most of the people who suffer from some form of respiratory disorder are often sensitive to chemicals, many of which are readily found in scented soaps, candles, perfumes, and air fresheners.
With So Many Synthetic Scents Side Effects, What’s the Alternative?
Now that you are aware of these synthetic scents side effects, it’s time to start considering going fragrance free or using purely natural scents, fragrances, cleaning agents, air fresheners and other things. The FDA, EPA or other regulatory authorities cannot help you as many of these harmful synthetic compounds are often part of what is considered “trade secret”. There are many natural alternatives out there for you to use. Look for them, and you’ll live a fragrance induced toxin free life.