"Perfumes are increasingly used in an ever wider variety of fields, including perfumes proper, cosmetic products, hygenic 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
84% of these ingredients have never been tested for human toxicity, or have been tested only minimally. N. Ashford, Phd and C. Miller, M.D. Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes 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% of chemicals used in fragrances are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum. They include benzene derivatives, aldehydes, and many other known toxics and sensitizers—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 found in fragrances known to be neurotoxic: 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 journals.)
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 found in fragrances known to cause cancer and birth defects: methylene chloride; toluene; methyl ethyl ketone; methyl isobutyl ketone; tert Butyl; sec Butyl; benzyl chloride. (Compiled by comparing a list of 120 fragrance chemicals from the EPA obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and California's Prop 65 List of Chemicals).
A few chemicals found in fragrances designated as hazardous waste disposal chemicals: methylene chloride; toluene; meythl ethyl ketone; methyl isobutyl ketone; ethanol; benzal chloride. These chemicals are listed in the EPA's Code 40 of Federal Regulations, Ch 1, Section 261.33.
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 Sensitivities." (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health report.)
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% 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 Amercians."
Article "One Woman's Perfume—Another Woman's Poison", in Let's Live: "The chief reactions we see are those that affect the nervous system—headaches, anxiety, depression. 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."
ASTHMA AND FRAGRANCE CHEMICALS
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."
Toluene 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%, and in the same period asthma deaths have increased by 31%. Women and those over 65 suffer the highest death rate for asthma.
72% of asthma patients in a study have adverse reactions to perfumes; i.e., pulmonary function tests dropping anywhere between 18% and 58% below baseline (from "Affects of Odors in Asthma," Chang Shim, MD and M. Henry Williams, MD, American Journal of Medicine, January, 1986 Vol. 80)
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, hair gel, 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.
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, 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 1989-90)
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."
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."
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1992 guarantees access to disabled to institutions, such as government agencies, libraries, doctor's offices, retail stores, and many others. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity/ Environmental Illness is recognized as a disability by The Social Security Administration and HUD. Fragrances are a "barrier to access" to MCS/EI disabled, since breathing is affected. Breathing is a "major life activity" as defined by the ADA. Fragrance bans meet the "reasonable accommodation" clause of the ADA, since elimination and substitution are not expensive.
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 thereof."
(NOTE: "Making Sense of Scents" was compiled by Julia Kendall (1935-1997), 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. – Used by permission