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Originally published August 15 2008

Fragrances in Common Household Products Contain Many Toxins

by E.L. West

(NaturalNews) Every day, we all try hard to do what is best for ourselves and our families, so it is very disconcerting and worrisome when we discover that everyday products such as laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, soaps and cosmetics, air sanitizers and sprays, etc. contain carcinogenic chemicals and harmful substances.

According to a study that was posted on the Environmental Impact Assessment Review and reported by CBS, there are many different kinds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in laundry detergents, air fresheners (in solid, spray and oil form), dryer sheets, and fabric softener. VOCs are small substances that evaporate into the air.

The study worked by isolating the products in a designated area in the laboratory at room temperature. By using mass spectrometry and gas chromatography, the investigator, Anne C. Steinemann - who was prompted to conduct the study because of the 200 complaints she received about such common products - was able to evaluate the amount of VOCs in the air. With an arbitrarily selected ceiling number of 300 micrograms, Steinemann was able to detect 100 VOCs in the air at the ceiling number. This is important because the threshold that she set was selected because it is the level at which it is considered dangerous to have VOC levels in that high range. She was able to identify some of the VOCs, discovering that 10 of those that she found were considered toxic under the U.S. federal law. Furthermore, three out of ten of the VOCs were considered air pollutants: acetaldehyde, chloromethane, and 1,4 dioxane.

So what does this all mean? It means that there are chemicals in everyday household staples that could be harming your health and you may not even be aware of them. To combat this, consider switching to a more natural alternative to commercial laundry detergents. Good brands of laundry detergent include Bodhi Soap Nuts which come from a Chinese soapberry tree, found at ( , or Dr. Bronner's Soap (can be found in local health food store). If these kinds of products are out of your price bracket, consider buying scentless detergent over their heavily fragranced, carcinogen-filled counter parts.

As for air fresheners and scents, consider using organic brands, or better yet, make your own. To add a nice citrus scent to any room, just get some pure water and add 50 drops of orange oil. Another good way to create a homemade scent is to get some baking soda (about 2 tbls. or as needed) and add any essential oil that you desire. These and many more recipes are great for freshening up any household and are safe, effective, and even healthy. Many recipes like this can be found in the book 500 Formulas for Aromatherapy by Carol & David Schiller, this book has a great many details on practical uses for aromatherapy, particularly for creating helpful and healthful scents.

The Fragrance Materials Association has basically dismissed the study; however, that lends no implication that we have to take that same approach. In these harsh times of a difficult economy and a daily-worsening environment, new actions need to be undertaken to protect ourselves from ingesting the harsh chemicals in our surroundings, whether it be in the form of food, or invisible particulate matter.


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2. Schiller, Carol & David. 500 Formulas for Aromatherapy. Sterling Publishing Company 1994.

About the author

Emily West is a freelance writer that focuses on topics of natural health and sustainable food production systems. She also maintains a blog, The Wordsmith, at

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