Toxic fragrances in air fresheners & laundry detergent

12:35 AM, Jun 8, 2009   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida--This study made me realize I don't need my clothes to "smell fresh" when in fact the  clean smell has a dirty secret.

I also tossed out air fresheners. Take a look at the ingredients on the back (that is if you see any).

Many people who love the fresh smell of air fresheners or laundry detergent don't realize that harsh chemicals give them that scent.

The good news is you can find fragrance free, safer brands, like Method at many stories.

A new study from the University of Washington found popular laundry products and air fresheners emitted dozens of different chemicals. Researchers say all six products gave off at least one chemical regulated as toxic or hazardous under federal laws, but those chemicals were not even listed on the product labels.

UW Professor, Anne Steinemann said she first got interested in this topic because people were telling her that air fresheners in public restrooms and scented laundry products made them sick.

She wanted to know what was in these products that would cause that effect.

"I was surprised by both the number and the potential toxicity of the chemicals that were found," Steinemann said.

Chemicals included acetone, the active ingredient in paint thinner and nail-polish remover; limonene, a molecule with a citrus scent; as well as acetaldehyde, chloromethane and 1,4-dioxane.

"Nearly 100 volatile organic compounds were emitted from these six products, and none were listed on any product label. Plus, five of the six products emitted one or more carcinogenic 'hazardous air pollutants,' which are considered by the Environmental Protection Agency to have no safe exposure level," Steinemann said.

I contacted Steineman to get the list of the 6 brands tested but she would not disclose them. However she did say many commerical brands contain the same chemicals.

The journal Environmental Impact Assessment Review published the study.

Companies are not required to list ingredients in laundry products and air fresheners. They also are not required to list chemicals used in fragrances.

To cut down on your exposure to chemicals, buy fragrance-free products.

Steineman would like to see better labeling so people can understand exactly what chemicals are in products.

The European Union requires companies to list 26 fragrance chemicals when they are above a certain limit.

Industry spokespeople say the products are safe when used as directed, and that the chemicals are present in amounts not known to cause problems.

Heather Van Nest, Heather's Natural Health, 10 Connects News