Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Just Spreadin' the News...

One of our regional television stations just ran a story they apparently picked up from the Seattle Times, and I want to share the highlights with you because this is a real breakthrough for those of us suffering from chemical intolerances. Well, breakthrough may not be the right word. But getting the news out about the toxic and even lethal chemicals hidden in the products people think are safe and use every day is truly newsworthy for some of us. Following are quotes from Ms. Doughton's article in the Seattle Times. (I've added the boldface.)

Toxic chemicals found in scented products
By SANDI DOUGHTON / Seattle Times

The fumes that waft from top-selling air fresheners and laundry products contain dozens of chemicals, including several classified as toxic or hazardous, says a University of Washington study published today. None of the chemicals was listed on product labels, nor does the federal government require companies to disclose ingredients in fragrances, said study author Anne Steinemann.

...Steinemann's study focused on six widely used products: dryer sheets, fabric softener, laundry detergent, a liquid spray air freshener, a plug-in air freshener, and a solid disc deodorizer used in commercial-airplane toilets.

A contract laboratory sealed each product inside a container, then used two types of instruments to identify chemicals emitted into the air... Among them are three chemicals the Environmental Protection Agency considers "hazardous air pollutants" with no safe exposure levels: acetaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, both likely human carcinogens; and methyl chloride, which has been linked to liver, kidney and nervous-system damage in animals.

...Children are more sensitive to chemical exposure than adults, said Steve Gilbert, founder of, a clearinghouse on toxic chemicals. And people are usually exposed to a stew of substances, which may interact in unknown ways. "At the very minimum, we should have a right to know what is in these products," said Gilbert, a Seattle toxicologist who was not involved in the study.

Manufacturers are not required to list the ingredients used in air fresheners, laundry products or most other consumer products, Steinemann said in her study, published in the journal Environmental Impact Assessment Review.

Steinemann wouldn't name the specific products tested, partly out of fear of industry lawsuits. She also said it would be unfair to single out specific companies at this point. A larger analysis, which looked at 25 different products, found many other brands contain similar chemicals. The second study is under review and will be published next year.

...Some products marketed as "unscented" or "fragrance-free" actually contain the same chemicals as scented products -- with the addition of a "masking fragrance" that cancels out the smell. And many products labeled "natural" or "organic" also contain some of the same chemicals.

I hope you've read through this or will at least click on the link to the video clip and be educated that way. If you had a clue how these chemicals affect the quality of my life - and that of more people in the US than are currently diagnosed with diabetes - you would throw out your scented products today and never buy another one ever again.


  1. Hi Sue, Thanks for the update about "fragrance". I've been avoiding products that contain that word "fragrance" for a long time since I found out it's not governed by the FDA so the mfgrs can put whatever they want in it. I'm glad there's finally something in the news about it. I agree with you, throw it away and don't use it anymore. Maybe there will now be more products on the market without fragrance, and it will be easier to find too.

  2. SO, not only are we saving money by not buying all that suff, we are saving our health. Think of all the kids that are exposed to all those "freshners" ( which smell awful to me). Here's hoping we get some changes in the crap we are exposed to.

  3. Thanks for that information, Sue. I'm sensitive to those awful fragrances, including most people's perfumes. I think they smell awful and chemical-y. They do a number on my asthma. I know a number of people bothered by this stuff. It bothers me that most people believe this fragrance is "needed" to have a good life. I'd like to see that changed, but I know it will take time. There's no good reason for all of us to be exposed to these chemicals. I don't know how you manage.

  4. ooh, excellent info. Nice to know that my hatred of all those products isn't irrational. Hate those "frangrances." I've found it really hard here to buy products that don't make me gag, but at least I have a good laundry detergent.

  5. I tried to comment yesterday but blogger wouldn't let me. Just wanted to say thank you for passing this information along to us. I found it very interesting.

  6. Oh darn, does this mean all the stuff that I buy that says "fragrance free" are filled with those nasty chemicals? Shoot ... well what kind of laundry detergent can I use that is good for front-loaders yet still be unscented? (My husband has allergies that will act up if there's anything with fragrance in it. No air fresheners or perfumes in our home.)


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