When the neighbor’s dryer vent blows aromas your way do you inhale deeply and enjoy the experience? Or do you wrinkle your nose and slam the windows shut? Recent research suggests you may want to do the latter, as scented laundry detergents, fabric softeners and dryer sheets contain hazardous chemicals, some of them known carcinogens and gender benders.
Anne Steinemann of the University of Washington established a few years back that what’s in those scented products is hazardous to your health. She and her team then analyzed the fumes coming out of dryer vents and found more than 25 volatile organic compounds, including seven hazardous air pollutants. Two of them, acetaldehyde and benzene are known carcinogens. Benzene damages the bone marrow and is an established cause of acute leukemias.
Another toxin in fragranced products is phthalates, substances added to make the fragrance stay around longer, often through repeated washings. Phthalates block androgens, or male hormones, and can interfere with normal genital development in boys. These toxic substances have been banned in Europe as reproductive toxins and because they can cause kidney and liver toxicity.
Steinemann published a survey in 2009 showing that a significant portion of the population reacts badly to fragranced products, “… 30.5 % of the general population reported scented products on others irritating, 19% reported adverse health effects from air fresheners, and 10.9% reported irritation by scented laundry products vented outside.” When children suffer from asthma, allergies and eczema, one of the prime suspects should be scented products, including laundry products, air fresheners, perfumes, personal care products, dry cleaning and cat litter.
Make the Switch to Unscented Laundry Products
Using scented laundry products means that you and your children are exposed to these toxins 24/7. You’re wearing them, toweling off with them and sleeping with them. There are clearly multiple benefits to switching to fragrance-free laundry products: it makes you a good neighbor, helps prevent leukemia, and will help your little boy grow into a normal man… just for starters.
More Info on Fragranced Products and Phthalates
Caress SM, Steinemann AC, “Prevalence of fragrance sensitivity in the American population,” J Environ Health. 2009 Mar;71(7):46-50.
Nardelli1 A, Carbonez A, Ottoy W et al, “Frequency of and trends in fragrance allergy over a 15-year period,” Contact Dermatitis, Vol 58, Is 3, pp 134–141, March 2008.
Steinemann AC, Gallagher LG, Davis AL, MacGregor IC, “Chemical Emissions from Residential Dryer Vents During Use of Fragranced Laundry Products,” Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health 2011: Url: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11869-011-0156-1.