They’re everywhere; in our homes and schools, theatres and work places, in and on our bodies. Fragrance even wafts from our dental floss. Those that don’t like fragrance are supposed to grin and bear it. Those that get sick from it are supposed to suffer in silence. But, maybe there are valid reasons why some instinctively recoil and others get sick.
It’s not common knowledge that registered pesticides, probable human carcinogens and hazardous, toxic and polluting volatile organic compounds constantly vaporize and disperse around us from scented products (www.drsteinemann.com/Articles/Steinemann%20et%20al.%202010.pdf).
If that’s not enough to rattle your cage, consider this: hormone-disrupting chemicals called phthalates are routinely used to stabilize scent in scented products. Phthalates are endocrine disruptors. The endocrine system of glands produces our hormones.
Scientists at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Cornell University and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention link prenatal exposure to the phthalates in scented products to attention and behavioural disorders in children (http://ehsehplp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.0901470). In their public release statement, Dr. Engel says, “There is increasing evidence that phthalate exposure is harmful to children at all stages of development” (http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-01/tmsh-msf012710.php).
Why is that? Phthalates are classified as both developmental and reproductive toxins so not only can they affect the unborn child, they can interfere with child development (http://www.cela.ca/publications/regulating-toxic-substances-consumer-products).
An Environmental Health Perspectives study of a wide range of consumer products, Endocrine Disruptors and Asthma-Associated Chemicals in Consumer Products, found that scented products are a primary source of exposure to phthalates. Other than vinyl products which contain very high concentrations of phthalates, they discovered that scented products and sunscreens contain the highest concentrations and kinds of phthalates (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404651/).
Phthalates are implicated in childhood cancers, in addition to prostate, testicular, breast and ovarian cancers. Yet none of this is disclosed on product labels nor is the general public aware of the phthalates in scented products or the many toxic and hazardous compounds emitting from scented products. Don’t consumers have the right to know so they can make informed choices about the risks they are willing to take with their health and the health of their families?
Consumers baffled about how to change over to healthier products might find the non-profit Guide to Less Toxic Products (http://lesstoxicguide.ca/), Skin Deep Cosmetics Database (http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/) and the Environmental Working Groups’ Guide to Healthy Cleaning (http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners) excellent resources.
Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Dept. of Preventive Medicine: Dr. Shanna Swan (http://shswan.com/articles/)
- Women’s exposure to phthalates and personal care products:
- Lifestyle behaviours associated with exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals in a Mennonite population
Environmental Health Perspectives Paper of the Year, 2009: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2702420/
Chemical Exposure Linked to Attention Deficit Disorder in Children: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/children-chemicals-fragrences-cosmetics-pthalate-attention-deficit-womb/
Breast Cancer Fund: http://www.breastcancerfund.org/reduce-your-risk/tips/choose-safe-cosmetics/
Metametrix Library: Phthalates & Paraben Profile: Urine https://www.gdx.net/product/phthalates-parabens-test-urine
Healthy Child Healthy World: Avoid Phthalates: Find Phthalate- Free Products Instead http://healthychild.org/easy-steps/avoid-phthalates-find-phthalate-free-products-instead%E2%80%A8%E2%80%A8/