Kudos to all the manufacturers who are now creating Fragrance Free products to answer the needs of millions!
Contrary to common belief, it isn’t that people don’t like scents such as flowers, fresh cut grass or a ripe pineapple. The issue is the fact that the “fragrances” in our cleaning and personal products contain synthetic/man-made scents that are made up of chemicals.
In a 2010 study, it was found that in 25 products tested, they contained 133 VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), with an average of 17 per product. What’s more, of the 133 different VOC’s, 24 are “…classified as toxic or hazardous under U.S. federal laws…” (2010 Study, Steinemann).
Just in laundry products alone, there are many ingredients “regulated as [a] toxic/hazardous chemical” under 1-7 laws. They are also listed as either a recognized or suspected carcinogen, as well as neuro, immuno, kidney, liver, blood, developmental, respiratory, gastrointestinal, reproductive, endocrine, skin and/or sense organ toxicant (Steinemann, Laundry).
The amounts of VOC’s we are exposed to in our paints, new carpets, exhaust, smoke, perfume, cologne and air fresheners is outrageous enough without consideration for our shampoo, soap, deodorant, lotion, sunscreen and laundry products! Our environment is challenging enough, without us slathering toxic chemicals onto our bodies, massaging them into our hair and soaking clothing in them!
Approximately 38% of the population reports some sort of adverse health effects from fragranced Products (Steinemann) and more than 15% knowingly live with isolating and debilitating, chronic reactions that are diagnosed as Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (Kreutzer).
Symptoms can include such reactions as breathing difficulties, coughing, blurred vision, dizziness, headaches, migraines and/or fatigue, as well as memory loss, seizures and/or paralysis. What’s more, it is probable that millions more live with various side effects, but do not make the connection.
As a result, the public at large has been demanding more manufacturers offer Fragrance Free products. For example, whereas just 5 or 10 years ago, it was difficult to find Fragrance Free laundry products, consumers can now find them in many different brands.
Nonetheless, no matter how a product is marked, buyers need to stay on their toes. Yes, it is true that for the most part, if a product states it is “Fragrance Free,” it indeed should be. However, the term “unscented” has always been more questionable.
Basically, a product marked “unscented” can either mean they did not add a “scent” to the product (but it may or may not still have a smell from the other ingredients and/or chemicals) or they tried to “de-scent” the product (often using masking chemicals and/or fragrance).
Below is just a small sample of products marked Fragrance Free, Unscented or Hypoallergenic, but contain fragrance. Please note that manufacturers change ingredients from time to time; thus, these snapshots may or may not be accurate to what they are presently producing.
Personally, I only use extremely natural and Fragrance Free products. I do not want any added chemicals in my air or on my body. Read my Chemical Injury story!
So, buyers beware! Read your labels before making a purchase! And let’s go Fragrance Free for own health, our loved ones and for the millions who greatly suffer from exposures, often leaving them isolated and alone.
(2010 Study, Steineman) Steinemann, Anne C., MacGregor, Ian C., Gordon, Sydney M., Gallagher, Lisa G., Davis, Amy L., Ribeiro, Daniel S., Wallace, Lance A. (2010). Fragranced consumer products: Chemicals emitted, ingredients unlisted. University of Washington, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Evans School of Public Affairs, WA.Environmental Impact Assessment Review. Elsevier. xxx (2010) xxx-xxx. EIR-056-86; No of Pages 6.
(Kreutzer) Kreutzer R, Neutra RR, Lashuay N. Prevalence of people reporting sensitivities to chemicals in a population-based survey. American Journal of Epidemiology. 1999 Jul 1;150(1):1-12. PubMed.gov.
(Steinemann, Laundry) Steinemann, Ann C. Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Public Affair, University of Washington. Toxic Chemicals in Fragranced Laundry Products and Health Effects. 2011.