Category Archives: Health

How our health may be affected by perfumes

Student rushed to ER from exposure to Axe Body Spray; School reacts with ban

High school student Brandon Silk  has been treated by his doctors for allergies to Axe Body Spray for a few years. Recent exposure to the fragrance in the hallways of his high school caused him to be rushed to the hospital when his throat swelled causing him to have difficulty breathing. His throat swelled twice before when exposed to the same smell at school. Now his mother is scared to let him go back to school and wants Unilever to disclose the ingredients of the body spray to help determine what is causing his allergic reaction.

Brandon and his mother talked to local TV station WFMZ. Please watch their story and read the article by WFMZ for details….

The Bethlehem Pennsylvania school where Brandon attends has put out a statement to parents on their website urging students not to wear Axe body spray due to Brandon’s allergy.  This is a great gesture by the school. I wonder how it will be enforced and for how long?

I am also scent sensitive and am touched by the reactions of many of the students at that school. Some suggest lobbying Unilever to disclose the ingredients for Brandon by posting to Axe’s Facebook page. Check out a video of reactions of students created by a local newspaper. I love their comments.

Smell Inc supports Brandon’s mom, Rosa Silk, and her quest to get the ingredients disclosed by Unilever. Unfortunately it’s an uphill battle. There is no legislation requiring these cosmetic companies to release the ingredients of the fragrance. The Environmental Working Group has proposed the safe cosmetics act to try to get this changed in the cosmetic industry.

Rosa isn’t the first mom to take on Unilever regarding severe allergies to Axe.  Read about the 2010 lawsuit filled in Indiana from an earlier post here at Smell Inc.

Something must be done. Body Spray, fragrances, perfumes, colognes…. it’s getting more and more obnoxious and it’s affecting others. When did it become trendy to reek? And when will these fragrances be considered second-hand scents and treated with the same regard as cigarette smoke. It’s affecting people the same way.


Study: Home air fragrance can contribute to asthma and allergy issues

A new study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) discusses how and why air freshners can affect our health.

The study talks about volatile organic compounds (VOCs) being found in numerous home fragrance products. Some VOCs include formaldehyde, terpenes, benzene, alcohols and ammonia. Certain chemicals found in fragrances contain ingredients considered toxic or hazardous under federal laws. VOCs can trigger headaches and respiratory tract irritation. There are also concerns about phthalates being discovered in fragrances which have been reported to cause hormone disruptions and cancer.

Statistics from the study “Is that Breath of Fresh Air Really Fresh? Do air freshners help?”….

  • 20% of general population and 34% of asthmatics reported health problems from air freshners.
  • 30% of general population and 38% of asthmatics reported problems when exposed to other’s scented products.
  • 58% of people with chemical sensitivity report health problems from air freshners.

This presentation suggested that doctors consider fragrance exposure in diagnosis and discuss the problems of fragrances with their patients. They even recommended one patient stop wearing perfume and using home air fragrances as part of her allergy treatment.

Please look at the original study, here is the link

If you would like more info from the ACAAI conference use this link

What are you breathing? Study finds fragrances contain some surprising ingredients

Researchers at the University of Washington tested 25 cosmetic and cleaning products and found that each item contained volatile organic compounds (VOCs) with an average of 17 per product.

The researchers claim that many of the VOC’s are classified by the federal law as hazardous or toxic and some are possible carcinogens. These VOC’s are found in the fragrances of the products.

Companies are not required to list ingredients of fragrances. They are protected by trade secret laws and are self-regulated. The products in this study did not list the VOC ingredients on their labels so consumers have no idea they are present.

The study claims that even products labeled as “green”, “natural” or “organic” also contained VOC’s.

Some of the ingredients that were found were…

Acetone- Used in nail polish remover and as paint thinner

Ethanol- Used in drinking alcohol, fuel and solvents

Formaldehyde- Embalming fluid as known as the smelly liquid from biology class

Acetaldehyde- Found in tobacco smoke and car exhaust

Methanol- used in antifreeze, to make fuel and embalming

1,4 Dioxane- EPA classifies as a probable carcinogen and known irritant

Chloromethane- was used as a refrigerant but discontinued to concerns over toxicity and flammability

Methylene Chloride- used as a paint thinner and degreaser and OSHA considers it a potential carcinogen

See University of Washington Professor Anne Steinemann’s  research page for the complete study.

On a personal note: I suffer from migraine headaches caused by fragrances. I am very grateful that the researchers from University of Washington are doing these studies. I hope some day to figure out which chemicals are causing my neurological reactions. I encourage you to support the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 so that all fragrance ingredients are listed on the labels.

Say NO to Air Fresheners


Because there is nothing fresh about them.

My version of hell is being locked in a room with air fresheners in the wall sockets. Even one device might do the trick. They are so strong. They often will invoke a severe headache for me within minutes.

Even if you don’t have my aversions to air fresheners you may want to consider the possible health and environmental risks they could pose.

Here is a posting on Washington Post’s website about some of the ingredients in air fresheners and the possible risks associated with them.

When I want my house smelling good I bake cookies or use a drop of vanilla. There’s nothing like the smell of fresh chocolate chip cookies, yum! Do you have any all natural house scenting tricks? I’d love to hear them!

Genetic Link Found for Migraines

A new study could lead to better treatments for migraines as researchers find a genetic link to migraines.

Doctor Questions Fragrance Industry Regulations and Toxic Dangers in Perfumes

Dr. Samuel S. Epstein,  Professor emeritus Environmental & Occupational Medicine at The University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and Chairman of Cancer Prevention Coalition, wrote an interesting article about  how the perfume industry is regulated and the possible health risks associated with fragrances.

Did Your Perfume Make the List? Secret Chemicals Hidden in Fragrances

Ever wonder what’s in a perfume? I do, considering many of them trigger my migraines. And so did the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics who commissioned lab tests analyzed by the Environmental Working Group. They tested more than a dozen name brand fragrances like Chanel Coco, Britney Spears Curious, Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio (for men), American Eagle 77 and Calvin Klein Eternity (for women). The EWG says there were 38 secret chemicals found in these tests and on average the fragranced products had 14 chemicals not listed on the labels. They also claim that some of these chemicals can have ” troubling hazardous properties”.

See if your perfume is on list, learn about how these chemicals are regulated and  check out EWG’s charts that show which products had the most chemicals. It is very interesting read….

ABCNews took their research and did a story about it well. Here is the link to that article….

I don’t know what to make of these findings. I really hope this will inspire more scientists to look into what is in fragrances and how it affects our health.  I would also hope that companies that use fragrances put a good effort forth to reduce harmful chemicals in fragrances. I buy fragrance free products and I hope more people will join me. If we show our concern with our dollars maybe companies will listen.