Fragrance Chemicals – What Would It Take?

Fragrance Chemicals - Not So HealthyFragrance chemicals is how I refer to modern fragrances. They are chemicals. Not natural.

What would it take? What would it take to convince you that they are harming all of us?

I have a story to tell you. It’s been a part of my life since I was 16. Over 40 years.

I know what I’m about to tell you is true. What would it take to convince you of this truth?

It started the summer I turned 16. There was a perfume spill in my bedroom. Emeraude was permanently embedded in the carpet. A seemingly isolated incident. For my birthday, my friend Teri gave me a new bottle. I can still see that emerald green liquid. My birthday is in July so I didn’t really wear it much until the Fall, when school started.

That first day of school I developed a horrific headache, complete with nausea. I had the same head pain the next day. (In reality, it was a migraine, but I won’t know this until 2002.)

Even at 16 I was destined to be a scientist. So I began looking at what had changed. What was different that would cause these terrible, disabling headaches? I came to two possibilities: either it was the school or my perfume. Oh, no. Not my beloved Emeraude.

I quickly concluded that it was the perfume. To test my theory, I wore no perfume to school the next day. And had no head pain. I was brave enough to test the perfume over the weekend. Sure enough, another headache. Washing it off did not help. Once the pain started, it had to run its course.

In 2002, I began having what I learned were migraines around-the-clock. If I didn’t wake up with head pain, it was there by the time I got to work. And it stayed with me all day.

Frequently, migraines are described as throbbing and one-sided. But this isn’t necessarily the case. Mine do not throb. Nor do they stick to one side of my head. More than those symptoms, is the fact that they are a neurological problem. Meaning they impact the nervous system and the brain. They can become serious and sometime even deadly. Clearly, they are to be avoided.

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At 16, I had decided that I was allergic to that one perfume. Over time, it was more and more perfumes. And any fragrance, actually. Now it includes most chemicals whether airborne or ingested. This includes most prescription medications.

For many years, perfumes and fragrances were just something that I avoided. I sought fragrance-free versions of every day products like makeups, hair care products, skin care products, and eventually even household cleaners.

When they became chronic, though, I started looking into fragrances in more detail. That is when I learned that they are known to contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs are the same chemicals that are known to cause cancer and are a threat when they are found in our water supply. The fragrance industry makes a number of claims related to their products. They claim that the only health issue they cause is from contact dermatitis. So skin contact. They also have convinced the FDA that their ingredients are a trade secret so they cannot reveal them. But it’s okay because there are self-governing. Let that sink in. Nothing to see here, move along.

This isn’t just about me!

This story isn’t just about me. If it were about just me, I would go into great detail on the personal harms that I have experience. The limited job possibilities because I can’t work in most office buildings. The loss of friendships over their insistence on using fragrances in my presence. Even the strain on family relationships. All of that, plus the health effects I have had to deal with.

This story isn’t just about me. If it were, would it really matter that much to anyone else? Instead, I have heard the stories of people who are unable to live in our modern world. They can’t be around computers or buildings or air conditioning. I’ve talked to people who have to avoid most things that are a part of normal life. People who are unable to eat more than a few foods. People who are unable to be around you if you have used any products, including most toothpastes!

What I know for sure:

  • Fragrance chemicals are everywhere.
  • Many commercial establishments pump air fresheners into their establishments.
  • Even grocery stores.
  • Fragrance chemicals penetrate plastics.
  • Especially the thin film of plastic covering meats and cheeses in the grocery.
  • Fragrance chemicals penetrate skin.
  • Including the skin of all of the vegetables and fruits in the grocery.
  • Fragrances – especially in laundry products – do not wash out. Ever. (Believe me, I’ve tried!)
  • Using fragranced laundry products on your bed linens means that you, and your family, are breathing those chemicals all night long.
  • Health issues from fragrance chemicals are progressive. Mine started with migraines from perfumes. Now I react to chemicals in the air and even those ingested, such as MSG (mono-sodium glutamate) and even pharmaceuticals. Frequently, my reactions are neurological now, more than head pain.

Who is this about?

Seriously, I would like to know what it would take to convince you there is a problem with modern fragrances?

More things I know: Fragrance chemicals negatively affect and often exacerbate symptoms for

  • People with migraines.
  • People with asthma.
  • People with allergies.
  • People with COPD.
  • People with autoimmune conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).
  • People with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, ADHD.
  • Developing children – beginning at conception.

What would it take?

Many people tell me that they are not impacted by fragrance chemicals. Are they certain, though?
The problem is that fragrance chemicals are ubiquitous. And have been for many years.

I contend that most people can’t know how they are impacted.

But if they have any of the issues I listed above, they are impacted.

So, tell me in the comments below: What would it take to convince you that fragrance chemicals are a health problem for all of us?

Barbara
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Barbara

Hi, I’m Barbara McNeely, author and publisher in San Antonio, Texas. I coach authors who have a personal story they want to share in a book. And I consult and guide authors through the process of self-publishing their books.
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