Awareness is growing about the harmful effects of synthetic, artificial fragrances. This is with good reason, but now, many people have jumped onto the natural fragrance and essential oil (EO) bandwagons, believing them to be safe alternatives.
Is this a good thing?
Some believe so, after all, what could be wrong with something that’s natural?
It’s time to have a closer look.
Why did we start using EOs and “natural” perfumes?
Like many, it may be because we heard that synthetic fragrances can be toxic a.f.
Have you ever wondered how and why that discovery was made? It’s certainly not because of ingredient lists. Fragrance ingredients are protected under trade secret laws and do not have to be disclosed.
The deeper realization that fragrances and fragranced products are harmful and toxic came about because people (most often people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities – MCS) have been keeling over with all kinds of adverse health effects. If that wasn’t enough, people with MCS have also been subjected to years of ridicule and abuse, much of it as a result of industry generated misinformation to avoid regulation.
Eventually though, a few independent researchers started digging into it. It’s quite possible that some of them wanted to prove the human canaries wrong, to prove that fragrances were ‘safe’. Instead, they’ve all discovered numerous harmful substances in fragrances and fragranced products.
After the alarms started ringing, and a lot of public pressure, the industry decided to be a bit more transparent. It’s now possible to see a list of 3999 voluntarily disclosed fragrance ingredients (from 2016) on IFRA’s website. Some of those are not safe at any level of exposure. We don’t know what they aren’t disclosing. There are no laws forcing them to disclose anything.
People with MCS are also known as human canaries. We’re usually way ahead of the science curve re what is and isn’t harmful to others. When you dig in, pretty well everything human canaries have ever said is harmful, has been scientifically discovered to be harmful, only that for other people the problems take longer to manifest.
Non-canaries develop cancer, asthma, and other chronic health problems like heart disease and diabetes, diseases related to endocrine disruption, like thyroid problems, have trouble conceiving, and from epigenetic effects, their kids can have learning difficulties, and/or serious allergies, among other things.
We canaries are now sounding the alarm that people (many people) are having numerous adverse health effects from EOs and natural fragrances. Even the pure ones, even the therapeutic grade ones, even the organic ones. And even from previously tolerated essential oils and natural fragrances.
They can ALL cause adverse health effects, and some are life threatening. And it’s not just people with MCS who are adversely impacted.
Now it’s people with MCAD/MCAS, allergies, autism, migraines, COPD, cancers, and many other health conditions, as well as teachers and kids in schools where they have started using diffusers and other methods of EO application.
Scientists are now beginning to find other adverse health effects from EOs, including endocrine disruption and harmful cardiovascular effects on blood pressure and heart rates.
Anaphylactic events from exposures are increasing. That is one of the life threatening effects, but there are others, some of which are slower to manifest. People are losing health, losing jobs, losing homes, and even being hospitalized.
When someone who uses EOs or natural perfumes, (or any fragranced products) goes to a hospital, they could cause a life threatening event for someone else in the hospital, especially if that hospital has a fragrance-free policy to protect patients and staff. We canaries don’t think anyone really wants to have that on their conscience.
Some people believe EOs are good medicine, well so are many other drugs, but people don’t go around forcing their drugs on everyone else around them. Why would anyone think that is it ok to inflict these personal medicines on others when any medicines can have counter-productive and harmful effects on others?
Essential oils and volatile chemical products release VOCs, some of which are hazardous in and of themselves, but they also form pollutants like formaldehyde, ozone, and fine particulate matter, which not only harm the growing number of human canaries and those who are allergic, get asthma or migraines, or have autism, but create pollutants that actually harms everyone!
As decent human beings, we’d use our meds privately in ways they don’t get transported in air via our skin, hair, or clothing. We won’t knowingly do things that can harm others. Can anyone really be ok with the fact that these things are even denying other people safe access to school, jobs, food, health care, etc?
Because they do… and it’s not a joke.
Times have changed.
These products are simply not appropriate for public use in this day and age.
Too many people have been and continue to become chemically injured and no longer able to process the natural chemicals or VOCs, and serious sensitivities and allergies are skyrocketing.
Fragrance-free policies are being created to save lives. Natural perfumes and essential oils are not fragrance-free (despite what some people seem to believe).
Let’s think about how what we do and use affects others, because everything we do affects others, and we can choose for these effects to be good, to reduce harm.
To preserve the healing effects that plants have, and to preserve land use for food and good medicine, to reduce pollution from agriculture, manufacturing and transportation, we have to eliminate the toxic synthetics and the cosmetic use of oils and natural perfumes too. Human lives actually depend on this.
It’s not necessary to add fragrance to ourselves and to everything else. But breathing clean air is necessary.
Maybe some day in the future, after we get rid of all the everyday toxic chemicals in products and materials, when indoor environments are healthy, when our food system gets cleaned up, and when so many people are not chronically ill, then, maybe in 20-50 years, when we can smell a bowl of fruit again, maybe some occasional use of additional fragrance for fun might be ok… but now, our planet and living beings cannot deal with the agricultural and personal effects.
We need to reduce exposures, not increase them. We need to focus on bringing things back into harmony with life, and stop putting the toxic economy first. We need to stop covering everything up with manufactured fragrance, and clean up the world instead!
And why hurt anyone when we can do things that don’t hurt, but help others?
It might temporarily be a bit harder, but when we shift our focus together, it will become a lot easier, and present and future generations will be thankful for it.
. ♥ .
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