The United Nations Environmental Program calculates that 70,000 chemicals are in common use across the world. Another 1000 new chemicals are introduced each year, polluting the planet and our bodies. Legal loopholes in every country still allow perfumes and other personal care products to be sold containing potentially deadly toxins that disrupt the order of the body’s living matrix and undermine your health. Each time you buy a bottle of perfume, be aware that it could contain any number of poisonous chemicals. There are more than 5000 stock chemical ingredients used by the fragrance industry, which manufacturers are not obliged to disclose on the labels. They are often hidden within a dangerous loophole of “trade secret formulas”.
More than ten years ago, the Sunday Times published an article shouting “Top Perfumes Linked to Cancer Scare Chemicals”. The article went on to report that when a Swedish government-accredited laboratory analyzed 34 common products, researchers found that well-known perfumes like “Chanel No. 5”, Dior’s “Poison”, Calvin Klein’s “Eternity” and “Tommy Girl” all contained di-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) or similar chemicals. Commonly used as “plasticizers”, phthalates are dangerous. They are linked to decreased sperm count, early breast development, kidney and liver damage and birth defects. Since then, the situation has become infinitely worse.
Phthalates have long been known to be both carcinogenic and mutagenic. They adversely affect sperm in men and disrupt reproductive processes in women. Nonetheless, they continue to be used. Theys are found in other common products as well—body sprays, compacts, and hair mousses—even flooring materials. Now, largely in response to several research projects, the EU has banned their use based on the fear that they may be responsible for genital abnormalities recorded in 4 percent of male babies. Yet they are still be used in fragrance products under the sneaky “trade secret formulas” label. And phthalates are merely a pale echo of the problem—a minute concern—in a much more threatening and complex multi-dimensional and pervasive chemical toxicity which pervades our lives.
In our 21st century industrialized world, we live in a sea of petrochemically-derived chemicals dangerous to health, and life. All manmade chemicals are foreign to living systems. As such, they are potentially dangerous to us. Why? Because, in a million years of evolution, our bodies have never come into contact with them. Our genes are not adapted to handling them. Nor do we have the enzyme systems needed to clear them from our system. Included in the group of potentially destructive chemicals are hundreds of common cosmetic ingredients—from artificial preservatives to fragrances.
There are over 7000 ingredients commonly found in perfumes, cosmetics and other fragranced products from household cleansers to baby toys. More than 1000 of these have already been individually shown to produce toxic effects on living systems. It is simply not possible to determine just what blends of substances have been used to produce the product, and what is listed on any label represents only the tip of the iceberg.
Companies manufacturing fragrances, cosmetics and toiletries, such as shampoos, are legally required to list the ingredients they use; however, fragrances and trade-secret formulas in these products are considered legally exempt. In effect, manufacturers indulge in stealth by hiding large quantities of ingredients which we have no way of finding out about.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics commissioned the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to analyze ingredients in several well-known perfumes and toiletry products made by companies such as Chanel, Armani, and Calvin Klein. They found a total of 38 chemicals not listed on product labels. According to the report: “Among them are chemicals associated with hormone disruption, allergic reactions...in the rank of undisclosed ingredients are chemicals with troubling hazardous properties or with a propensity to accumulate in human tissues. These include diethyl phthalate, a chemical found in 97% of Americans and linked to sperm damage in human epidemiological studies, and musk ketone, a synthetic fragrance ingredient that concentrates in human fat and breast tissue.”
Chemical hormone mimics not only carry dangers for male health, being largely responsible for the fall in male sperm count by almost 50 percent since 1940. They are also major culprits behind the exponential growth of reproductive disorders in women—from PMS, endometriosis and fibroid tumors, to infertility, osteoporosis and menopausal miseries.
And, here’s the rub: Far more important than the potential harm any single chemical can do, is the dangerous way in which these chemicals can interact to produce far more toxic compounds within our bodies. This important truth still remains ignored by government bodies whose job it is to protect the public.
A continuous interchange is meant to take place between your body’s trillions of cells and the surrounding interstitial fluids. This is how nutrients and oxygen enter the cells and cellular wastes are cleared from them. Wastes are then carried through lymph vessels to be eliminated from the system on the breath, and via urine, the bowels and the skin. This exchange of nutrients and oxygen and the elimination of waste are regulated by subtle electrochemical energies. A build up of toxicity in your body’s living matrix results in poor circulation and electro-chemical stagnation, causing poor cellular metabolism, distortions in the transmission of information, and a breakdown in hormone regulation.
When cells thrive and your body is radiant, you have a high level of protection from aging. This continues so long as plenty of nutrients and oxygen get into its cells, and toxic wastes are efficiently removed from them. And, although your body has elegant ways of clearing wastes—including its own antioxidant enzyme system and detoxification processes through the liver and kidneys—chemical and electromagnetic pollution can create the kind of toxic overload that undermines its ability to do the job.
AVOID TOXIC OVERLOAD
Here are just a few of the most widespread chemicals commonly used in perfumes, makeup, and skincare. By now, every fragrance or skincare manufacturer of integrity should be working diligently to eliminate them from the products they sell. So far few companies are.
Made from toluene, a petrochemical derivative, these are the most common synthetic preservatives. They are still used in 99 percent of all products. They show up on labels with names like butyl paraben, methyl paraben, and propyl paraben. Naïve cosmetic manufacturers claim parabens are “safe” since they don’t directly cause inflammatory reactions to skin. But these enzyme inhibitors do damage the DNA of skin cells—something easy to verify by feeding placebos to live cells in a laboratory and then recording what happens to the cells via flow cytometry. Research carried out in Japan, Germany and Britain also implicates parabens—which we absorb in significant quantity day in day out—as a causative factor in male fertility problems and breast tumors in women, because it interferes with hormone production and hormone release.
These have been shown to cause hormone disruption. They accumulate in breast milk and in the umbilical cord blood of newborns.
DEA diethanolamine, MEA monoethanolamine, and TEA triethanolamine:
These hormone-disrupting chemicals can form carcinogenic nitrates and nitrosamines. They are widespread in the United States and other countries.
Hydantoin and Urea—Imidazolidinyl:
Two of the many preservatives commonly found in self-care products, these release formaldehyde into the body, where they can trigger skin reactions, allergies, joint pain, dizziness and lowering of immunity. Formaldehyde undermines the life processes of your living matrix. This is why morticians use it to embalm dead bodies.
Fragrances in general:
Many chemicals used to make artificial fragrances are known to be both toxic and carcinogenic. They affect the central nervous system, and can set off emotional disturbances and behavioral problems in some people. This is a wide chemical group, most of the members of which are dangerous—to some degree—because of the solvents used to disperse their molecules and suspend these chemicals in solution.
Where once the great perfumes were formulated from natural products like civet and essential oils, sadly this is most certainly no longer the case.
HEADACHES AND FATIGUE
Have you experienced a headache or felt sick when passing through the cosmetic area of a department store? I have. That’s why I tend to stay away from these places. Our olfactory mechanisms are closely allied to our limbic system—the primitive part of the brain that oversees our emotions, our behavior, and our memories. The limbic system also rules our basic animal drives and influences our autonomic nervous system, hormones and sexuality. Being exposed to cosmetic counters, or sitting next to people who are wearing poisonous perfumes can make you feel confused, dazed, bad-tempered and deeply fatigued. So can wearing many well known perfumes and using other fragranced products in your home or workplace. It’s far better to make your own fragrances to wear—as well as to make your home beautifully fragrant—out of organic essential oils. Your health and your life will benefit, and this could help protect you from potentially destructive long-term damage to your body.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
“Scent of Danger: Are There Toxic Ingredients in Perfumes and Colognes?” Scientific American September 29, 2012.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Not So Sexy Examiner November 9, 2013
Environmental Working Group December 6, 2007 2
New York Times May 14, 2000
Business Week June 16, 2010
Psychological Science December 22, 2009