Toxins in Your Life – Fragrance

As part of “greening” our lifestyle we have have also been starting to look at what is in our products, both in terms of ingredients that are good or bad for the environment and ingredients that are good or bad for people. In recent months I have been surprised to learn that ingredients that are used topically – on our skins – are not as regulated or closely examined as those that we ingest in foods.

One big item that is becoming fairly prominent now is the fact that “fragrance” is not regulated and companies that add “fragrance” do not need to disclose what is in fragrance because that is considered a trade secret. You can read a lot more about this issue on the web page for the Environmental Working Group. The EWG is a non-profit that looks at toxins in our environment and is dedicated to raising awareness about these issues.

According to tests performed by the EWG and Consumers Reports, “fragrance” can hide the presence of lead and other substances found to be toxic to humans.

There are two things you can do about this issue. Read your labels. Even if the label says “unscented” read the ingredient list to see if “fragrance” is an ingredient. Don’t buy anything with “fragrance” as an ingredient or that doesn’t list the ingredients.

The other thing you can do is contact your legislators and tell them that you want them to regulate the ingredients in “fragrance”. A great place to get started is the EWG’s Action Center where they have a number of ways for you to be heard.

The EWG has a database of cosmetics, personal products like shampoos and sunscreens indicating which are of more or less concern based on their ingredients. They are a great resource to help you determine what to buy to be more careful about toxins around you and your family.

Happy Greening,

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  1. Have you watched The Story of Cosmetics (by the folks who made The Story of Stuff)?

    When my twins were born 5 years ago, I started removing products with added dyes and fragrances. When one of my sons had eczema, I got more serious about it. Added benefit: I used to have mild asthma. I haven’t needed ANY asthma medicine in nearly 5 years, since we got rid of added fragrances! Wish one of my doctors had told me years ago that my laundry detergent and fabric softener and other environmental triggers might have been causing my breathing problems…

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