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Thursday, 15 July 2010

Poisoning Another Generation

From Grownups dot co dot nz Fyrebird in August 2008 It sums it up very well.


Is Perfume A Brilliantly Marketed Toxin?

I'm passing this article on because I, like many others today, find the smell of perfumes & colognes unpleasant at best and debilitating at worst. Now after checking out the subject on the internet I understand why I have the reactions I do, the chemicals used in these items are toxic and breathing in the fumes from them can be compared to breathing in second hand smoke.

What's the difference between perfume and pollution? Absolutely nothing. Perfumes may be sold as luxury items that enhance our wellbeing and sexuality, but at heart they are composed of neurotoxic solvents not dissimilar from those favoured by glue sniffers and volatile chemicals usually more at home in garages and industrial factories.

As far back as 1986, the US National Academy of Sciences targeted fragrance ingredients as one of six categories of neurotoxic chemicals in need of thorough investigation. This placed perfume ingredients right up there with insecticides, heavy metals, solvents and food additives as primary causes of disease in humans. But government and industry have been slow to get their acts together.

Under EU legislation there are few restrictions and even fewer outright bans on the quantities or combinations of fragrance chemicals that may be used in cosmetics. A typical perfume contains a mixture of fragrance chemicals (often between 50 and 100) mostly derived from petroleum.

These include benzene derivatives, aldehydes and many other known toxins capable of causing cancer, birth defects, central nervous system (CNS) disorders and allergic and asthmatic reactions.

These substances can get into the body by inhalation or by being absorbed through the skin. When fragrance chemicals penetrate the skin they can be toxic to the liver and kidneys.

Still others accumulate in fatty tissue and leach slowly back into the system or are passed on to children via breast milk. Inhaled, they can cause sore throat, runny nose, sinus congestion, wheezing, shortness of breath, nausea, headache, dizziness, lethargy, mood swings and muscle pain.

Perfume chemicals not only affect users but also those around them, and there are now urgent calls for second-hand scent to be considered in much the same light as we consider second-hand smoke.

There are environmental concerns as well, since fragrances are volatile compounds, which add to both indoor and outdoor air pollution. Synthetic musk compounds, for example, are carcinogenic and potential endocrine disrupters.

They are also persistent in the environment and contaminate waterways and aquatic wildlife.

The turnover of the fine fragrance market in the UK was £350B last year. Currently, the US Food and Drug Administration is considering a petition submitted by US environmental group the Environmental Health Network to have a well known perfume declared 'misbranded'. The basis of the petition is that none of the perfume's ingredients have been adequately tested for safety.

The ingredients are fairly representative of those found in all modern perfumes. While most women perceive it as a romantic floral fragrance, the reality is quite different.

Of the perfumes 41 known ingredients, 33 have no relevant safety data.
Of the rest, data suggests they are toxic, irritant, sensitising (capable of causing allergic-like reactions), damaging to the CNS and carcinogenic.

Accordingly, the campaigners want the label of this (and all other perfumes) to caution: ‘Warning: the safety of this product has not been determined.’


Benzyl Acetate: Synthetic fragrance (floral, fruity). Irritating to eyes and respiratory passages. Carcinogen, linked to pancreatic cancer.

Benzenethanol: Synthetic fragrance (sweet, floral, rose). Irritating to skin, eyes and upper respiratory tract. CNS disruption. Carcinogenic. Also affects bone marrow (the tissues that produce blood cells). Exposure can lead to aplastic anaemia, excessive bleeding, and damage to the immune system (by changes in blood levels of antibodies and loss of white blood cells).

Diethyl Phthalate: Solvent; carrier; fixative. Irritating to eyes and skin. CNS disruption. Causes fetal abnormalities. Sperm damage. Oestrogen mimic. Carcinogen.

Eugenol: Synthetic fragrance (clove oil substitute). Irritant. Contact dermatitis. Also a common fungicide, pesticide and insecticide ingredient.

Ethyl linalool; linalool: Synthetic fragrance (bergamot, French lavender). Narcotic, CNS disruption. Commonly used in pesticides.

Galaxolide 50: Synthetic fragrance (artificial musk). Hormone disruptor. Irritant. Carcinogenic.

Cyclopentadecanolide: Synthetic fragrance (artificial musk). Hormone disruptor. Irritant. Carcinogenic.

Benzaldehyde, 4-Hydroxy-3-Methoxy: Synthetic fragrance (vanilla). Irritation to the mouth, throat, eyes, skin, lungs, and the gastrointestinal tract, causing nausea and abdominal pain. Kidney damage. CNS disruption.

Benzenemethanol: Solvent (carrier for other fragrance chemicals); synthetic fragrance (sweet, floral). Irritating to skin, eyes and upper respiratory tract. CNS disruption. Carcinogen.

Phenol, 2, 6-BIS(1,1-Dimethylehyl)-4-Methyl: Fragrance; antioxidant. Irritant. Potential carcinogen. Reproductive toxin. Also used as a pesticide.


As the old saying goes, where there’s muck, there’s money.

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