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Blog/Opinion

Blog/Opinion: Do scents make sense?

By HHI Staff

Did you know? According to one study:

  • 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.

It's also well-established that fragrances can trigger headaches and other disconcerting problems.

 

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According to Dr. Anne Steinemann, a University of Washington professor of civil and environmental engineering and of public affairs:

 

"I first got interested in this topic because people were telling me that the air fresheners in public restrooms and the scent from laundry products vented outdoors were making them sick. And I wanted to know, 'What's in these products that is causing these effects?'"

She analyzed the products to discover the chemicals' identity.

"I was surprised by both the number and the potential toxicity of the chemicals that were found," Steinemann said. Chemicals included acetone, the active ingredient in paint thinner and nail-polish remover; limonene, a molecule with a citrus scent; and acetaldehyde, chloromethane and 1,4-dioxane.

"Nearly 100 volatile organic compounds were emitted from these [six tested] ... products, and none were listed on any product label. Plus, five of the six products emitted one or more carcinogenic 'hazardous air pollutants,' which are considered by the Environmental Protection Agency to have no safe exposure level," Steinemann said.

 

So, should synthetic scents be banned? Most people love the natural aromas from baking bread, cinnamon, and the sweet smell of fresh cut roses. Can complex natural chemistries be cost-effectively cracked and emulated - synthesized and used without harm? What's the answer? Do scents make sense?

 

 

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Do scents make sense?:  Created on January 22nd, 2010.  Last Modified on April 11th, 2010

 

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