From cosmetics to detergents to diapers, we live in a world of scents that might be making us sick, suggests a new study, even when those fragrances come from products that claim to be natural and pure.
In an analysis of 25 of the most commonly used scented products – including ones labeled "organic," "natural" or "non-toxic" – scientists identified at least 133 chemicals wafting off of them. A quarter of those chemicals were classified as hazardous or toxic. Virtually none were listed on product labels.
Even when labeled "natural" or "non-toxic," scented products emit toxic chemicals that rarely appear on labels.
A growing number of people may be developing sensitivities to fragrances.
Experts suggest cleaning with baking soda and vinegar, and buying products that are as free of fragrances as possible.
"If these were coming out of a smokestack or a tailpipe, they would be regulated," said lead author Anne Steinemann, a civil and environmental engineer at the University of Washington in Seattle. "If they are in a hand soap or air freshener, they are not."
What can you do?
1. DIY. Make your own personal care products and cleaners when possible:
Demand full ingredient disclosure. Support companies that tell you exactly what’s in their products. Check company websites and email or call if it’s not publicly accessible.
Be cautious even with “natural” scents. Natural does not equal safe (think of poison ivy). People can have adverse reactions to essential oils – so no matter what you’re using, watch for any reactions.