Why Artificial Fragrances Stink
We smell trouble
Fast-forward to today, and we still have a love affair with pleasing fragrances. Indeed, we’ll spend $80 billion in the U.S. this year, and a projected $90 billion in 2020, just to fulfill that single, simple promise: a pleasant scent.
But to return to the Big Oil lab…what’s oil got to do with it?
Answer: just about everything.
“Fragrance” is a bucket of poison
So guess where that Lavender Breeze air freshener comes from? (Hint: not from lavender.) Or that refreshing Citrus Grove after-shave? Or the nameless but pleasing fragrances that somehow find their way into all sorts of cosmetics?
Watch out. More than 95 percent of the chemicals in synthetic fragrances are built on a foundation of petroleum.
What could possibly go wrong?
Slap some Texas crude on your face?
Of particular concern is a class of chemicals known as phthalates, used to bind ingredients together—like fragrance and pigment in lipstick—and to increase flexibility in plastic hosing.
They’ve been found in thousands of everyday items. We’re talking cosmetics, household cleaners, food packaging, vinyl flooring, and more.
And we’re talking everywhere.
A great example?
Fresh, wholesome milk, in a glass bottle.
But Dr. Connealy, you ask, how can a petroleum-based chemical get into a glass bottle?
In the U.S., only a handful of phthalates have been tested for safety.
Not the case in other industrialized nations.
What are we missing here?
That’s because phthalates have been linked to:
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Breast cancer
- Type II diabetes
- Low IQ
- Neurodevelopmental and behavioral issues
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Altered reproductive development
- Male fertility issues
Lazy, lousy label laws
Many attempts have been made to urge the government to retire the trade secrets designation and require a full listing of all ingredients in any product containing phthalates and other dangerous toxins.
There have been small victories along the way. Congress has banned some phthalates in toys, for example. But that’s nowhere near the full disclosure that would thoroughly inform and warn consumers, and let them make their own, educated decisions.
Or would it?
Could there be counter-pressure on the government from oh, say, Big Oil? And maybe every one of the players in this $80 billion industry?
It’s an easy call. Read the labels and don’t touch any product that has “Fragrance” on the ingredients list. You’ll be astonished by the numbers.
And be warned—even packages labeled “Fragrance-free” can contain dangerous ingredients. If there’s a long list of unpronounceable chemistry-lab ingredients, leave it on the shelf.
And toss anything with “Fragrance” in your housekeeping cabinet and your personal care/makeup regimen.
Better still, replace all of those cleansers, polishers, deodorizers, shampoos, body washes, and who knows what else with natural, affordable substances.
You’ll be amazed at what vinegar, baking soda, citrus and other oils, and other ordinary household items can do—and for a fraction of the cost that you’re paying for Big Oil and Big Cosmetics products. There are hundreds of great sites that tell you what should go and how to replace it.
Take good care.
“How big is $80 billion? (bigger than you think!)” Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. Published December 2015. Last accessed August 14, 2017.
Koerth-Baker, Maggie. “The Surprising Impact of Taste and Smell” Live Science. Published August 5, 2008. Last accessed August 14, 2017.
“Phthalates are everywhere, and the health risks are worrying. How bad are they really?” The Guardian. Published February 10, 2015. Last accessed August 14, 2017.
“Scent of Danger: Are There Toxic Ingredients in Perfumes and Colognes?” Scientific American. Published NA. Last accessed August 14, 2017.