Friday, June 13, 2008

Eco Peeve Friday: Perfume

Did you know that conventionally made perfume is totally a toxic soup of chems that contain compounds hazardous enough to be on the EPA's bad list for over 20 years? I don't need a scientist to tell me that perfume is unhealthy though, one whiff of that perty lady in front of me in line at the post office and I am about to gag. I have tried holding my breath but the moment of horror comes when I finally need to breathe again and have to take a HUGE inhale of the smell I was trying to avoid. Ahh! Maybe it's just me but I prefer a little B.O. wafting around the room over the artificial flowery smell that makes me feel like I've be locked in grandmaw's closet. I seriously wondered how so many people can even stand to wear perfume till I learned about certain toxic fragrance ingredients doing paralysis tricks on your smell-ability - aka, people wear a shit ton of perfume cause they can no longer smell it, and keep lathering on more. Maybe this explains why old people wear the strongest smelling fragrances since year after year of perfume abuse has deadened their nose... (but this certainly doesn't explain why teenage boys slobber on too much Cologne to no avail!) I doubt I am the only one who feels attacked by other people's artificial smells- can't we all just go stylin' perfume free and heart our personal aroma?!!
For those of you who enjoy scientific hypochondriac gross chemical lists, here's one based on a study done by the EPA on fragrance products:

"1. ACETONE (in: cologne, dishwashing liquid and detergent, nail enamel remover)
On EPA, RCRA, CERCLA Hazardous Waste lists. "Inhalation can cause dryness of the mouth and throat; dizziness, nausea, incoordination, slurred speech, drowsiness, and, in severe exposures, coma." "Acts primarily as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant."
2. BENZALDEHYDE (in: perfume, cologne, hairspray, laundry bleach, deodorants, detergent, vaseline lotion, shaving cream, shampoo, bar soap, dishwasher detergent)
Narcotic. Sensitizer. "Local anesthetic, CNS depressant"... "irritation to the mouth, throat, eyes, skin, lungs, and GI tract, causing nausea and abdominal pain." "May cause kidney damage." "Do not use with contact lenses."
3. BENZYL ACETATE (in: perfume, cologne, shampoo, fabric softener, stickup air freshener, dishwashing liquid and detergent, soap, hairspray, bleach, after shave, deodorants)
Carcinogenic (linked to pancreatic cancer); "From vapors: irritating to eyes and respiratory passages, exciting cough." "In mice: hyperanemia of the lungs." "Can be absorbed through the skin causing systemic effects." "Do not flush to sewer."
4. BENZYL ALCOHOL (in: perfume, cologne, soap, shampoo, nail enamel remover, air freshener, laundry bleach and detergent, vaseline lotion, deodorants, fabric softener)
"irritating to the upper respiratory tract" ..."headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drop in blood pressure, CNS depression, and death in severe cases due to respiratory failure."
5. CAMPHOR (in: perfume, shaving cream, nail enamel, fabric softener, dishwasher detergent, nail color, stickup air freshener)
"local irritant and CNS stimulant" ..."readily absorbed through body tissues" ..."irritation of eyes, nose and throat" ..."dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles and convulsions" "Avoid inhalation of vapors."
6. ETHANOL (in: perfume, hairspray, shampoo, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid and detergent, laundry detergent, shaving cream, soap, vaseline lotion, air fresheners, nail color and remover, paint and varnish remover)
On EPA Hazardous Waste list; symptoms: "...fatigue; irritating to eyes and upper respiratory tract even in low concentrations..." "Inhalation of ethanol vapors can have effects similar to those characteristic of ingestion. These include an initial stimulatory effect followed by drowsiness, impaired vision, ataxia, stupor..." Causes CNS disorder.
7. ETHYL ACETATE (in: after shave, cologne, perfume, shampoo, nail color, nail enamel remover, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid)
Narcotic. On EPA Hazardous Waste list; "...irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract" ..."may cause headache and narcosis (stupor)" ..."defatting effect on skin and may cause drying and cracking" ..."may cause anemia with leukocytosis and damage to liver and kidneys" "Wash thoroughly after handling."
8. LIMONENE (in: perfume, cologne, disinfectant spray, bar soap, shaving cream, deodorants, nail color and remover, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid, air fresheners, after shave, bleach, paint and varnish remover)
Carcinogenic. "Prevent its contact with skin or eyes because it is an irritant and sensitizer." "Always wash thoroughly after using this material and before eating, drinking, ...applying cosmetics. Do not inhale limonene vapor."
9. LINALOOL (in: perfume, cologne, bar soap, shampoo, hand lotion, nail enamel remover, hairspray, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, vaseline lotion, air fresheners, bleach powder, fabric softener, shaving cream, after shave, solid deodorant)
Narcotic. ..."respiratory disturbances" ... "Attracts bees." "In animal tests: ataxic gait, reduced spontaneous motor activity and depression ... development of respiratory disturbances leading to death." ..."depressed frog-heart activity." Causes CNS disorder.
10. METHYLENE CHLORIDE (in: shampoo, cologne, paint and varnish remover)
Banned by the FDA in 1988! No enforcement possible due to trade secret laws protecting chemical fragrance industry. On EPA, RCRA, CERCLA Hazardous Waste lists. "Carcinogenic" ..."Absorbed, stored in body fat, it metabolizes to carbon monoxide, reducing oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood." "Headache, giddiness, stupor, irritability, fatigue, tingling in the limbs." Causes CNS disorder.
11. a-PINENE (in: bar and liquid soap, cologne, perfume, shaving cream, deodorants, dishwashing liquid, air freshener)
Sensitizer (damaging to the immune system).
12. g-TERPINENE (in: cologne, perfume, soap, shaving cream, deodorant, air freshener)
"Causes asthma and CNS disorders."
13. a-TERPINEOL (in: perfume, cologne, laundry detergent, bleach powder, laundry bleach, fabric softener, stickup air freshener, vaseline lotion, cologne, soap, hairspray, after shave, roll-on deodorant)
..."highly irritating to mucous membranes"... "Aspiration into the lungs can produce pneumonitis or even fatal edema." Can also cause "excitement, ataxia (loss of muscular coordination), hypothermia, CNS and respiratory depression, and headache." "Prevent repeated or prolonged skin contact."
NOTE: Unable to secure MSDS for the following chemicals: 1,8-CINEOLE; b-CITRONELLOL; b-MYRCENE; NEROL; OCIMENE; b-PHENETHYL ALCOHOL; a-TERPINOLENE"

Compiled by Julia Kendall (1935 - 1997); distributed by Environmental Health Network(used by permission)
Reference: Lance Wallace, Environmental Protection Agency; Phone: (703) 648-4287
Excerpts from "Health Hazard Information"
Symptoms of exposure are taken from industry-generated Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

1 comment:

Richard Nickson said...

Amen sista! Perfume has always disgusted me too. There are even good natural smells that people can use if they don't feel like their own odor will suffice. Lavender olive oil and such is always sexy...