Facts About Perfume

Facts About Perfume


The Environmental Protection Agency. “Indoor Air Quality Basics for Schools.” 1990. The EPA list personal care products as a source of indoor air pollution. “The EPA studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor levels of pollutants may be 2-5 times, and occasionally more than 100 times higher than outdoor levels. These levels of indoor air pollutants are of particular concern because it is estimated that most people spend about 90% of their time indoors. Comparative risk studies performed by EPA and its Science Advisory Board have consistently ranked indoor air pollution among the top four environmental risks to the public.”

“Indoor air problems can be subtle and do not always produce easily recognized impacts on health, well-being, or the physical plant. Children are especially susceptible to air pollution. For this reason, air quality in schools is of particular concern.” The Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Kit sponsored by the EPA, American Lung Association, Consumer Product Safety Commission, American Medical Association, American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, National Parent Teachers Association, Council for American Private Education, and Association of School Business Officials cite personal care products as a source of school indoor air pollution.

Fragranced Products Information Network. “One study that was done showed that the perfume strips in magazines were triggers for asthma. Another study showed that asthma-like symptoms were triggered by fragrance chemicals. This study showed that the symptoms were triggered even when the participants could not detect the odor.” (Betty Bridges, RN.)

The US Food and Drug Administration: 72% of asthmatics have respiratory symptoms related to perfume. Both the American Lung Association and the Canadian Lung Association cite perfume as an asthma trigger.

The Center for Disease Control in Canada have reported a threefold increase of asthmatic deaths over 20 years, mostly in teenagers and young adults.

The Nova Scotia Lung Association cite the current child asthma rate in Nova Scotia as 17% of the population. (Nancy Irvine, personal communication July, 1998.)

“The American Academy of Allergy and Immunology routinely warns asthmatics to avoid exposures to perfumes (as well as to other strong odors, such as paints, thinners, ammonia, etc.) since these volatile compounds can trigger asthma attacks by stimulating already irritable airways.” (Louis Kosta, The Human Ecologist. 1992.)

Citizens for a Toxic-Free Marin. “Making Sense of Scents” 1997 “A few chemicals found in fragrances designated as hazardous waste disposal chemicals are: methylene chloride; toluene; methyl ethyl ketone; methyl isobutyl ketone; ethanol; and benzal chloride.” “Toluene not only triggers asthma attacks – it is known to cause asthma in previously healthy people. Toluene was detected in every fragrance sample collected by the EPA for a report in 1991.” “Asthma and asthma deaths have increased over 30% (USA) in the past 10 years.”

According to John Baily, Ph.D., Director, Colors and Cosmetics, FDA, ”The fragrance and cosmetic industry is the least-regulated industry. There is no pre-clearing of chemicals with any agency”.

Phillip Landrigan, MD, and Herbert Needleman, MD, Raising Children Toxic Free. 1996. “There has been an increase in children’s learning disabilities, attention deficit and other behavioral disorders.”

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine. “Heavy exposure to pesticides or other petrochemicals (many perfume ingredients are petrochemicals) can lead to the development of allergic reactions.”

“Neurotoxins: At Home and the Workplace”, Report by the Committee on Science & Technology, US. House of Representatives, Sept. 16, 1986. “95% of chemicals used in fragrances are synthetic compound derived from petroleum. They include benzene derivatives, aldehydes and many other known toxins and sensitizers – capable of causing cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions. “

Andrea DesJardins. Sweet Poison: What Your Nose Can’t Tell You About The Dangers Of Perfume. 1997. “Children are even more susceptible than adults to the effects of fragrance chemicals, yet fragrances are added to nearly every baby product on the market. Exposure to fragrances may result in the child having difficulty concentrating, learning disabilities, hyperactive behavior, and even growth retardation and seizures in extreme cases.”

Fragranced Products Information Network. “Studies have shown that inhaling fragrance chemicals can cause circulatory changes in the brain. Changes in electrical activity in the brain also occur with exposure. Fragrances are a frequent trigger of migraine headaches. Changes in circulatory and electrical activity in the brain can trigger migraines in susceptible individuals.” (B. Bridges, RN)

Irene Wilkenfeld of Safe Schools, Lafayette, LA. “Strong odors are believed to be capable of provoking increased electrical activity in the amygdala (involved in feelings and activities related to self-preservation) and in the hippocampus (essential for learning and new memory). Problems in the hypothalamus, the analytical laboratory of the body, will be reflected in the changes in body temperature, reproductive physiology, digestion, aggressive behavior, heart rate, blood pressure, immunity and possible anaphylaxis. All this suggests the existence of a direct pathway from the nose and mouth (oropharynx) to the brain, capable of triggering numerous neurological and psychological abnormalities.” “Low levels of the chemicals found in perfume can adversely affect the body in profound and subtle ways.”

“The US Food and Drug Administration acknowledges that the incidence of adverse reactions to perfume products appears to be increasing as a result of the rising popularity of stronger, and sweeter fragrances.”

In 1986 the National Academy of Sciences targeted fragrances as one of the six categories of chemicals that should be given high priority for neurotoxicity testing. The other groups included insecticides, heavy metals, solvents, food additives and certain air pollutants. In 1991 the 3

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) analyzed the VOCs which were given off by 31 fragranced products. Their results showed that some of these compounds included linalool, toluene, xylene, methylene chloride, ethanol and limonene all of which can cause serious health problems. They also concluded that the air in department and clothing stores, shopping malls, craft/hobby shops and potpourri shops contained more chemicals than the air in the auto part shops, tire shops, and carpet stores. The most abundant chemical in auto parts stores and perfume sections in department stores was toluene, a chemical which can cause serious health problems.

N. Ashford, PhD. and C. Miller, MD. Chemicals Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes. 1991. “84% of these ingredients have never been tested for human toxicity, or have been tested only minimally.”