Great Smokies Medical Center of Asheville

Fragrances: Feel the Romance

While some natural ingredients in the perfume industry cost up to $40,000 per pound, their synthetic alternatives can cost less than $10 per pound, explaining why 95 percent of perfume ingredients are synthetic chemicals. You won’t find them listed on the label either, as there can be more than 500 ingredients in one formulation that are deemed to be “trade secrets.” These chemical brews are added to shampoos, soap, detergents, and many other personal and household products, perpetuating health risks from multiple daily exposures.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recognizes more than 800 chemicals in fragrances that are capable of causing cancer, birth defects, muscle and joint pain, rapid heart beat, depression, asthma, and widespread chemical sensitivities. If just one of these chemicals was intentionally sprayed on a fellow citizen, a visit from the HazMat team and assault charges could result. Yet these chemicals are part and parcel of everyday life, leaving some people sick . . . sick and clueless to the cause of their many symptoms.
Some of the not-so-romantic sounding ingredients in perfumes are: musk ambrette (causes degeneration of the nerve’s protective myelin sheath), benxophenones (can cause hives), linalool (causes poor coordination, depression and respiratory problems), and methyl ethyl ketone (can induce stupor, liver congestion, and numbness of extremities).

Maybe that dizzy-headed feeling you’ve been having isn’t really love after all.

People having “mysterious” symptoms can do a one month trial of avoidance of fragrances and products that contain them to determine the role, if any, that chemicals in fragrances play in contributing to their health problems. The answer may often be apparent only when fragrances are re-introduced at the end of the period of avoidance.

GSMC recommends that all public facilities such as hospitals, clinics and schools strive to provide fragrance-free environments that do not interfere with health or the ability to learn.

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