Synthetic scents or “fragrances” represent an unidentified mixture of ingredients including carcinogens (a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue.), allergens, respiratory irritants, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxic chemicals (Neurotoxicity is toxicity in the nervous system. It occurs when exposure to natural or artificial toxic substances, which are called neurotoxins, alters the normal activity of the nervous system in such a way as to cause damage to nervous tissue. EG: Research has shown that many neurological disorders may be caused by neurotoxic chemicals such as Lead, Mercury, Polyvinyl chloride, and Polychlorinated biphenyls.) and environmental toxicants (Plastics, heavy metals, pesticides). These artificial scents can be found in all kinds of body care and cosmetic products, as well as air fresheners, cleaning materials and laundry detergents.
Are you wondering why companies would continue to use synthetic scents if they’re so bad for our health? The answer is simple — they are cheaper.
Serious Dangers of Synthetic Scents
According to the Breast Cancer Association of America, when it comes to the prevention of cancer, avoiding synthetic fragrance is one of the main ways to help yourself. That’s because the dangers of synthetic scents include hormone-disrupting phthalates and synthetic musks.
Allergic & Toxic Bodily Reactions
Fragrances are one of the top five allergens in the world. Allergic reactions include headaches; migraines; sinus irritation; difficulty breathing and others. These mixtures if they come into contact with the skin can cause a type of contact dermatitis which is, a type of allergic skin reaction. The number of allergic cases seems to be on the rise, and it is believed that one of the greatest causes of these is synthetic fragrances
What are the alternatives?
Firstly, read your labels. If it has the words ‘parfum’ or fragrance, rather avoid them. There are also many better options and ways to avoid the dangers of synthetic scents including:
- Living with fewer fragrances in your life. One easy solution to freshen your air? Put a bowl of white vinegar your counter-top or windowsill to aid in natural odour control. Be sure to focus on cleaning up the source of odour, though, too — not just covering up the foul smell.
- Avoid any product that lists fragrance, parfum, phthalate as an ingredient.
(Dangers of Phthalates and DEHP. Phthalates, a family of industrial chemicals used to soften PVC plastic and as solvents in cosmetics and other consumer products, can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system — particularly the developing testes — according to animal studies.), DEP, DBP, or DEHP (These are all phthalates)
- Look for products that use pure essential oils when you are looking for a scent. Or, make your own
- Buying certified organic products, which are less likely to include artificial scents (but still read labels). Watch out for “limonene” or “linalool” on labels, too. When they are listed in this form on the label, they are likely synthetic, man-made versions, not the natural compounds part of a more complex organic essential oil.
- To provide a fresh, natural scent to your home or office, use fresh cut herbs and flowers and potted plants. Studies have even shown that the best indoor plants that help to strip pollution also help to strip indoor air of some toxic compounds. (EG: Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis); Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema); English Ivy (Hedera helix); Golden Pothos, Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum); PALMS (Arecaceae or Palmae); Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum); Rubber Plant (Ficus elastic) and Baby Rubber Plant (Ficus robusta); Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata); Spider Plant, Hen-en-Kuikens (Chlorophytum comosum)).
- If you are super sensitive or just don’t want to deal with smelling anything at all then choose fragrance-free or unscented products. Just make sure to still read labels carefully because sometimes companies will use other questionable ingredients to create that lack of a scent.
- Question companies that don’t fully explain how their products are scented. Maybe you’ll get some additional information or at best, get them to think again before not fully informing their customers.
I really want to emphasize how important it is that you and your loved ones avoid the dangers of synthetic scents as much as possible. I also want to remind you again about what’s so much better than those fake smells-essential oils! With so many scents to choose from and combine, the options for lovely natural scents are practically endless.
One of the best ways to protect your overall health is to choose products that are truly free of fragrance or ones that fully disclose a natural fragrance ingredients. Pregnant and breastfeeding moms should be especially careful for the sake of themselves as well as their developing children.