Considering going Scent Free

It has been well documented that fragrances and perfumes – even those called ‘natural’ – generally contain toxic substances that can trigger asthma and allergies as well as eye and throat irritation. According to the USFDA, fragrances cause 30% of all allergic reactions. When exposed to perfumes (including shampoos and conditioners, hairsprays, deodorants, lotions and creams, soap, after share and colognes) more than 70% of asthmatics develop respiratory problems. William J. Rea, MD, Director of the Environmental Health Centre in Dallas, Texas has discovered that perfume often shuts down learning capacity and can affect a child’s immune system. Many people show abnormal blood flow in the brain on a SPECT scan after exposure to perfume. He adds that “school attendance can improve and academic achievement may also increase if an effort is made to remove all perfumed products from a classroom setting.”

Fragrances have been used for thousands of years so it isn’t surprising that some people wonder why the problem of sensitivities, allergies and adverse health reactions has emerged only in the last few decades. Perfumes used to be made from natural ingredients derived directly from plants and animals. Today over 3,000 chemicals are used in fragrances. A simple perfume may contain 500 chemicals. There is no agency to regulate the industry and they are not required to reveal their formulations, test results, if any, or customer complaints. (memo from Dale Versfelt, September 2002.)

The reactions to fragrance can vary from itching/watering eyes to anaphylactic shock. The following is a list of some of the symptoms in between this range:

    • Nausea
    • fatigue
    • weakness
    • insomnia
    • malaise
    • confusion
    • depression
    • anxiety
    • numbness
    • loss of appetite, shortness of breath
    • difficulty with concentration
    • skin irritation

For further information, please visit our list of scent-free products.