"Perfumes are increasingly used in an ever wider variety of fields, including
perfumes proper, cosmetic products, hygienic products, drugs, detergents
and other household products, plastics, industrial greases, oils and solvents,
foods, etc. Their composition is usually complex - it involves numerous natural
and synthetic sweet-smelling constituents, more than 5,000 of which are known.
Perfumes may produce toxic, and more often allergic respiratory disorders
(asthma), as well as neurological and cutaneous disorders." From the
French Toxicology Journal,
Ann Dermatol Vernereol, Vol 113, ISS 1, 1986, P.31-41
Of these ingredients, 84 percent have never been tested for human toxicity,
or have been tested only minimally. Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and
High Stakes, N. Ashford, PhD and C. Miller, MD, MS, 1991, p. 61
In 1986, the
National Academy of
Sciences targeted fragrances as one of the six categories of chemicals
that should be given high priority for neurotoxicity testing.
The other groups include insecticides, heavy metals, solvents,
food additives and certain air pollutants.
The report states that 95 percent of chemicals used in fragrances
are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum.
They include benzene derivatives, aldehydes, and many other known
toxics and sensitizers, which are capable of causing cancer, birth defects,
central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions.
Neurotoxins: At Home and the Workplace (Report by
the Committee on Science and Technology. U.S. House of Representatives, Sept.
16, 1986) [Report 99-827]
A FEW CHEMICALS KNOWN TO BE
NEUROTOXIC FOUND IN FRAGRANCES:
hexachlorophene; acetyl-ethyl-tetramethyl-tetralin; zinc-pyridinethione;
2,4,dinitro-3-methyl-6-tert-butylanisole; 1-Butanol; 2-butanol; tert-Butanol;
Isobutanol; t-Butyl Toluene.
Neurotoxic properties of chemicals found in fragrances have
caused testicular atrophy in lab animals as well as myelin disease. The myelin
sheath protects the nerves and does not regenerate.
(Compiled from TOXLINE database of fragrances industry and medical
Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's, Lupus, and Alzheimer's are
all neurological disorders. Dyslexia is a neurological dysfunction.
Could any of these neurological dysfunctions be caused by exposure to neurotoxic
chemicals? Symptoms are often identical to chemical hypersensitivity.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is also a neurological
dysfunction. Could fragrant fabric softeners or detergents emitting neurotoxic
chemicals cause the neurological breakdown?
A FEW CHEMICALS CLASSIFIED AS
AIRBORNE CONTAMINANTS FOUND IN FRAGRANCES:
methylene chloride; toluene; methyl ethyl ketone; methyl isobutyl ketone,
tert Butyl; sec Butyl.
Compiled by comparing a list of only 120 fragrance chemicals
from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) obtained through the Freedom
of Information Act and "Airborne Contaminants" June 1991, California Division
of Occupational Safety and Health.
Benzyl chloride, used in manufacturing perfumes, is a central
nervous system depressant intensely irritating to eyes, and mucous membranes.
The Merck Index, An Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs and
Biologicals. Benzyl chloride was added in January 1990 to California's Safe
Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 list of chemicals known
to cause cancer. California EPA, Office of Environmental Helath Hazard
A FEW CHEMICALS FOUND IN FRAGRANCES DESIGNATED AS
HAZARDOUS WASTE DISPOSAL CHEMICALS: methylene
chloride; toluene; meythl ethyl ketone; methyl isobutyl ketone; ethanol;
benzal chloride. Compiled comparing a list of only 120 fragrance chemicals
from a 1991 EPA study, "Identification of Polar Volatile Organic Compounds
in Consumer Products and Common Microenvironments," presented at the 84th
Annual Meeting of the Air & Waste Management Association in Vancouver,
British Columbia, June 1991, and the EPA's Code 40 of the Federal Regulations,
Ch 1, Section 261.33, listing hazardous waste site chemicals.
It is increasingly expensive to dispose of these chemicals properly.
Why are hazardous waste chemicals being dispersed at great profit in consumer
products to an unsuspecting public?
MORE FRAGRANCE PRODUCTS' CHEMICALS KNOWN TO CAUSE
CANCER: methylene chloride, a known carcinogen
that also causes autoimmune disease, is listed as one of the 20 most common
chemicals found in fragrance products in the 1991 EPA study even though the
FDA banned the chemical in all cosmetic and fragrance products in 1989.
John Bailey, FDA, states there is no way to police the fragrance
industry since it is unregulated and exempt from listing ingredients. Limonene,
also listed as one of the 20 most common chemicals, is a known carcinogen.
The Merck Index cautions that Limonene is a sensitizer. Sensitizers have
the capacity to cause Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS).
Benzaldehyde, one of the 20 most common chemicals in the EPA's fragrance
study, is a sensitizer. It is also a narcotic according to the Merck Index.
Eight hundred and eighty-four (884) toxic substances were identified
in a list (partial) of 2,983 chemicals used in the fragrance industry:
"Many of these substances are capable of causing cancer, birth defects, central
nervous system disorders, breathing and allergic reactions and Multiple Chemical
1988 study by U.S. House Subcommittee on Business
Opportunities, chaired by Ron Wyden
(D.OR) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Healthy.
The study found 314 fragrance industry chemicals known to cause biological
mutation; 218 caused reproduction problems; 778 caused acute toxicity; 146
cause tumors; and 376 caused skin and eye irritations.
In a National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health study conducted
by Syracuse Research Corporation, Report No. SRC TR 81-521, 1981, benzoin
is named as a chemical used in fragrances found to cause enlarged lymph nodes
in both male and female mice and enlarged spleens in males. Liver damage
is also cited.
AMICUS Journal, Winter '89, Board
of Environmental Studies and Toxicology of the National Research Counsel,
the research branch of the National Academy of Sciences estimates that
"15 percent of the population experiences
hypersensitivity to chemicals found in common household products."
National Institutes of Health, Issues and Challenges
in Environmental Health, NIH Pub. #87-861"... allergic reactions
and hypersensitivity diseases, for instance, are among the most costly of
U.S. health problems afflicting at least 35,000,000 Americans,"
[Side two of Julia's flyer, which I received from her March 1992. --
ASTHMA AND FRAGRANCE
CHEMICALS: 72 percent of asthma patients in a study had adverse
reactions to perfume, i.e., pulmonary function tests dropping anywhere between
18 percent and 58 percent below baseline from
of Odors in Asthma," Chang Shim, MD and M. Henry Williams, MD,
American Journal of Medicine, January 1986, Vol 80.
TOLUENE was detected in every fragrance sample collected
by the Environmental Protection Agency for a report in 1991:
"Toluene was most abundant in the auto parts store, as well
as the fragrance sections of the department store."
not only triggers asthma attacks -- it is known to
cause asthma in previously healthy people.
According to Air Currents, publication of Allen and Handsbury's
Respiratory Institute, division of Glaxo, Inc., asthma has increased in the
past decade by 31 percent, and in the same period asthma deaths have increased
by 31percent. Women, and those over 65, suffer the highest death rate from
Toluene-laced fragrance industry chemical products have become increasingly
pervasive in the last ten years -- used not only in perfumes, but also in
furniture wax, tires, plastic garbage bags, inks, hairgel, hairspray, and
kitty litter. A Danish toxicological journal, Ugeskr Laegar, Vol 153,
ISS 13, 1991, p. 939-40, found perfume in kitty litter to be the cause of
asthma in humans. Toluene is also listed on California's Prop. 65 as a birth
defect causing chemical, pg. 11.
[NOTE: Toluene is an aromatic hydrocarbon
For more information, please see the
and Other Toxic Solvents Information Page
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Public Health Statement., 1989.
SYMPTOMS PROVOKED BY FRAGRANCES
INCLUDE: watery or dry eyes, double vision, sneezing, nasal
congestion, sinusitis, tinnitus, ear pain, dizziness, vertigo, coughing,
bronchitis, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, laryngitis, asthma,
anaphylaxis, headaches, seizures, fatigue, confusion, disorientation,
incoherence, short-term memory loss, inability to concentrate, nausea, lethargy,
anxiety, irritability, depression, mood swings, restlessness, rashes, hives,
eczema, flushing, muscle and joint pain, muscle weakness, irregular heart
beat, hypertension, swollen lymph glands, and more.
(Candida Research and Information Foundation, Perfume Survey, Winter
NO REGULATION OF FRAGRANCE
INDUSTRY TO PROTECT PUBLIC HEALTH:
No agency regulates the fragrance industry. According to John Baily,
PhD, Director, Colors and Cosmetics, FDA, "The fragrance
and cosmetic industry is the least-regulated industry. There is
no pre-clearing of chemicals with any agency."
The FDA has suggested the best method "to protect sufferers
from odor sensitivities might be to curtail odor exposures under specific
circumstances through local or state regulatory action."
Bailey stated in a February 28, 1992 telephone conversation
with Julia Kendall, Co-chair, Citizens for a Toxic Free Marin, that under
current law, consumers would have to prove through expensive tests (he estimates
$1,000,000) that the chemicals in a fragrance are causing specific symptoms
before the FDA could require fragrance industry removal of a product.
He states that fragrance industry lawyers would sue the FDA
if it attempted to remove any fragrance from the marketplace even with thousands
of "anecdotal" complaints.
RIGHT TO BREATHE FRESH AIR:
James Cone, MD, MPH, a Berkeley-based indoor air quality consultant
and former Chief of Occupational Health Clinic, San Francisco General Hospital,
in Indoor Air Odorants, identifies physiological pathways
of entry of synthetic fragrance molecules, naming them as one of five
major contributors to indoor air pollution and then recommends a
regulation be adopted to govern indoor air quality where specific point
sources can be identified.
"No person shall discharge from any source whatsoever such quantities
of air contaminants or other material which cause injury, detriment, nuisance
or annoyance to a considerable number of persons or to the public, or which
endanger the comfort, repose, health or safety of any such persons or the
public, or which cause, or have a natural tendency to cause, injury or damage
to business or property."
Article: "One Woman's Perfume -- Another
in Let's Live:
"The chief reactions
we see are those that affect the nervous system -- headaches, anxiety,
But anything can be affected, even diet and a personal intolerance
for different foods."
There are two major ways in
which cosmetics and their chemical constituents can affect the body.
One is through direct
contact. Inhalation is the other
major route for molecules of an active substance
to enter the blood stream.
'There is a route from the nasal passage into the nervous system,"
says Mandell... 'It is the way, for instance, that inhaled cocaine has an
effect on the brain.'
The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990
guarantees access to people with disabilities to institutions,
such as government agencies, libraries, doctor's offices, retail stores,
and many others.
Environmental Illness/Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (EI/MCS)
is recognized as a disability by The Social Security Administration and HUD.
Fragrances are a "barrier to access" to EI/MCS disabled, since breathing
is affected. Breathing is a "major life activity" as defined by the
Fragrance bans meet the "reasonable accommodation" clause of
the ADA, since elimination and substitution are not expensive. Workplace
accommodation for disabled employees should be
Postal Regulations, Domestic
Mail Manual, 124.395 -- Fragrance Advertising Samples (39 USC
3001 (g) April 1990), states that fragrance strips for mailing "cannot be
activated except by opening a glued flap or binder or by removing an overlying
ply of paper."
California AB 2709 (as of January 1,
1992) states that "fragrances contained in any newspaper, magazine, or other
periodically-printed material, published or offered for sale, or contained
in any advertisement -- mailed or otherwise distributed -- shall be enclosed
in a sealant sufficient to protect a consumer from inadvertent exposure to
the cosmetic -- including, but not limited to, the inadvertent inhalation
WHAT YOU CAN DO! SPEAK UP!
Write letters to the editors of newspapers
Call the U.S. Postal Service; file a formal complaint against companies mailing
items out of compliance with postal law.
Call the 800 number of magazines with fragrance strips that are out of compliance
with the law. Threaten lawsuits.
Call the FDA 1.800.858.3760 to report reactions to fragrance products
Use the Small Claims Courts
Ask your doctor to demand the ingredients of any chemical fragrance product
to which you react. Cite the following:
29 CFR 1910.1200 and 1910.20, the OSHA Hazard Communication
and Access to Medical Records standards allowing health professionals
access to trade secret information.
NOTE: "Making Sense of Scents" was compiled by Julia Kendall, borrowing from
Irene Wilkenfeld's "Fragrance Facts" and from research contributed by Karen
Stevens, Carol Kuczora, Milan Param, Richard Conrad PhD, Susan Nordmark,
Susan Springer, Mary Ann Handrus, Susan Molloy, Sandy Ross PhD.
The Works of Julia Kendall (1935 -
Feel free to copy and post, just please credit Julia