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Perfumes and fragrances are all around us. We find them in perfumes and colognes, of course, but also in laundry and cleaning products, personal care products, air fresheners and scented candles, even in cat litters and trash bags. What you may not realize is that these fragrances don't come from natural plants and flowers. They come from petroleum chemicals.
There are over eighty-thousand petrochemicals in use around us every day. More than five-thousand fragrance chemicals are used in personal care products alone. While the label might simply say a product contains "fragrance," that fragrance can contain over six-hundred synthetic petrochemicals.
Manufacturers are not required to list the specific chemicals in their fragrances because they've convinced legislators and government agencies that these ingredients are trade secrets. But independent laboratory analyses of many fragrance products reveal the frightening truth:
Many of these chemicals cause cancer and damage to the liver, kidneys, immune and reproductive systems. Many more have been classified as neurotoxins, meaning they cause damage to the brain and nervous system. Some of these chemicals have even been labelled by the EPA as toxic waste! See the Twenty Most Common Chemicals in Thirty-one Fragrance Products for details.
Most of these chemicals come with warnings to avoid contact with skin and avoid breathing their vapors, and yet they're in products that you apply to your skin and inhale! Few have been tested for their safety in combination with one another. When you inhale fragrance chemicals or allow them to touch your skin, those chemicals are absorbed into your bloodstream and deposited into your tissues and organs. Many are accumulated in fat cells and held there for decades, building up with each repeated exposure. As the body breaks them down they form new chemicals, all in combinations that have not been tested for safety.
Our bodies were never meant to absorb so many chemicals every day of our lives. The body must break them down to eliminate them, and frankly, it can be overwhelmed by the task. A short list of chemical overload symptoms can include headaches, nausea, pain, and fatigue; depression, anxiety, irritability or mood swings; difficulty sleeping, concentrating or remembering things; difficulty breathing or swallowing, or frequent asthma attacks.
If you have any of these conditions, check to see how many products in your home and at work contain synthetic fragrances and other petrochemicals. How many people around you are using fragranced products?
In Part 2 of this article we'll discuss healthful alternatives to toxic fragrances.
About the Author:
Siri Amrit Kaur Khalsa has Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and is a cancer survivor. She started Tigerflag Natural Perfumery at http://www.tigerflag.com/ to give people a safe alternative to toxic fragrances. You can find more information about natural perfumery and MCS by visiting her Info page at http://www.tigerflag.com/info.html .
You may print or publish this article as long as you use it in its entirety, with credit to the author and Tigerflag Natural Perfumery, LLC.
First published 07/29/2006.
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