Pfffft! Did you just hear that little air diffuser go off?

For many of us we have never really thought about fragrances and perfumes. Well why should we? They are in everything from our hand soaps, laundry liquid, perfumes and body sprays, air fresheners, candles, car diffusers the list goes on. So they naturally are safe right?

I have a little beef with the ol’ fragrance and I myself struggle to rid my home of it. I still use my perfume for those special occasions but with reluctance and only so I don’t smell like my usual hippie self. Coz let’s face it, I love me some garlic and onions and this seeping from your pores in a fancy cocktail dress is not the most attractive at times. 

Let me blow your mind with some facts. 

98.5% of us Australian are exposed to a fragranced product at least once a week either through our own personal use or by others or both. 

Fragrance is quickly becoming known as the new ‘second hand smoke’ with research showing that many of us experience health problems as a result of exposure to it. The most vulnerable to the exposure being pregnant women and infants. 

Research conducted by Anne Steinemann, Professor of Civil Engineering and Chair of Sustainable Cities and a world expert in Environmental pollutants, air quality and health effects at the University of Melbourne, showed that one in three Australians experience health problems when they are exposed to fragranced products such as air fresheners, cleaning products, laundry detergents, and personal care products. Reported side effects include migraine headaches, allergic reactions such as rashes, dizziness and difficulty breathing. Her results have been published in this article Preventative Medicines Report.

The reason why one in 3 Aussies experience these health problems and this is my REAL beef with fragrances? 

Because scented products emit a range of chemicals, including hazardous air pollutants. These are known as Volatile Organic Compounds or VOC’s. These VOC's are primary pollutants that can then react with the ozone to produce secondary pollutants such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde (Nazaroff and Weschler, 2004). Fragrance is in fact a concoction of several dozen to thousands of chemicals. The secrecy around these concoctions means that their labels do not disclose the complete profile of these chemicals. Even those claiming to be natural can have synthetics fragrances in them. 

Findings from Professor Steinemann’s study showed, 47.2% were not aware that a “fragrance” in a product is typically a chemical mixture of several dozen to several hundred chemicals, 68.6% were not aware that fragrance chemicals do not need to be fully disclosed on the product label or material safety data sheet, 68.9% were not aware that fragranced products typically emit hazardous air pollutants such as formaldehyde, and 73.7% were not aware that even so-called natural, green, and organic fragranced products typically emit hazardous air pollutants. 

Despite this 56.3% reported that they would not use a fragranced product if they knew that it emitted hazardous pollutants.

So let me set you this challenge. 

Next time you stroll down that cleaning isle at your local supermarket, pick up a product and see if they list words like Fragrance, perfume, parfum, essential oil blend, aroma. You can be guaranteed that there is at least 14 potentially harmful chemicals in that product. 

Now it’s not easy to rid yourself of them and I’m not asking you to. I still need my perfume. But maybe let’s look at a less is best approach. I only use perfume when I go out for my fancy dinners. And let’s face it, that’s pretty rare nowadays with kids. On the other days I opt for a natural alternative such as an essential oil based perfume roller. Not sure what this is, why not come to our Exclusive Bespoke Perfumery High Tea this August to make your own. 

All I ask is that next time you reach for that cleaning product, air freshener, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, have a quick scan of the label and see what lurks inside.