Founder's Note: The Science of Toxic Fragrance

The science, I believe, is so clear. We HAVE to reduce our exposure to these environmental toxins for our own health, the health of our children and families and the health of this planet.

It’s not rah rah. It’s not just to push some product that you don’t need. It’s not a scare tactic.

Armed with a bit of information, you can make up your own mind. It becomes an informed and conscious choice.

So….time to get a bit nerdy and sciency on you!

From a study done in 2016*, they found that 33% of Australians report health problems, such as migraine headaches and asthma attacks, when exposed to fragranced products. That is 1 in 3 people.

And that same study found that while 73.7% were not aware that fragranced products, even ones called green and organic, emitted hazardous air pollutants, 56.3% would not continue to use a product if they knew it did.

Now, a family of industrial man-made chemicals found in these synthetic fragrances are called phthalates. They are used to soften PVC plastics and as solvents in cosmetics and other consumer products. On the US National Library of Medicine website they say “The health effects of exposure to phthalates are not yet fully known but are being studied by several government agencies. One phthalate, Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), is an endocrine disruptor and can cause cancer. Some phthalates may affect human reproduction or development.”

This is what is called the “human experiment”. We actually don’t know, fully, what the long term health effects of our exposure to these industrial chemicals are. WE ARE THE EXPERIMENT. And those phthalates they describe, they are found in fragrance, but you will never know.

Um, no thanks.

Then in the Flavour & Fragrance Journal**, from 2002, the fragrance industries very own publication, they say; “In spite of widespread use and exposure, there is little information on the materials used in fragrance. Some fragrance materials have been found to accumulate in adipose tissue (fat tissue) and are present in breast milk. Others are suspected of being hormone disruptors. The implications are not fully known, as there has been little evaluation of systemic effects. There is little government regulation of fragrance.” Yet again, you are the experiment, and the government is not on watch.

A committee of scientists funded by the Consumer Products Safety Commission in the US assessed the hormone disruptor DEP, which is used in fragrance, for its health effects. They analysed every study that had been done on DEP.

In their 2014 report***, it concluded that “....exposure to DEP can induce reproductive or (non-reproductive) developmental effects in humans….(the studies) suggest that harmful effects in humans have occurred at current exposure levels. There is, therefore, an urgent need to implement measures that lead to reductions in exposures, particularly for pregnant women and women of childbearing age.

Have you heard anything about this “urgent need to reduce our exposure” from the government or the companies?? Nope.

And one last one, if you are still with me!!

An extensive review in 2012**** of all the scientific studies about hormone-disrupting chemicals concluded that recent studies ‘have added weight to the idea that any estrogen, including xenoestrogens (synthetic estrogens, like those found in synthetic fragrance), might contribute to breast cancer risks.’ Do you want to wait to find out if that “might” is right or not? For you, or your children?

I know when I learnt all of this, I was shocked.

But guess what?

You control so much of your exposure to these environmental toxins with the choices you make every day.

AND there are amazing products and brands out there that you can switch to easily. That is why I do what I do. To inspire and simplify the switch into healthier and more conscious choices.

I hope you learnt something and feel inspired to make the switch, one step at a time.


In Love of All Things REAL,




*Health and societal effects from exposure to fragranced consumer products, Nov 2016, Appeared in Preventive Medicine Reports Journal

**Flavour & Fragrance Journal, 2002. Fragrance: emerging health and environmental concerns

***Report to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission by the Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel on Phthalates and Phthalate Alternatives,” July 2014  

****5.1 Breast Cancer’ in Kortenkamp, Start of the Art Assessment of Endocrine Disrupters; Final Report; Annex 1.

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