1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

August 11, 2008

:224 Scented Laundry Products

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:224 EcoTip: A University of Washington study of common laundry products and air fresheners found all the tested products emitted at least one chemical that was regulated as toxic or hazardous but not listed on the label. Five out of six of the products had carcinogens.

The study was authored by Anne Steinemann, a UW professor of civil and environmental engineering and public affairs. She is quoted as saying:

Be careful if you buy products with fragrance, because you really don’t know what’s in them. I’d like to see better labeling. In the meantime, I’d recommend that instead of air fresheners people use ventilation, and with laundry products, choose fragrance-free versions. 

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 Additional Information:

More information about this study is posted on the University of Washington News site at:

http://uwnews.org/article.asp?articleID=42872

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June 3, 2008

:155 Air Fresheners

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:155 EcoTip: Air fresheners may contain very toxic chemicals. They are best avoided. Healthy homes don’t need air fresheners. Instead of covering up odors first look for the source.

Once the source of your odor problems has been identified try to eliminate the source. If the problem is a temporary one like from smelly food or bathroom visits – you can increase the ventilation or use a safer deodorizer.

Natural deodorizers will be tomorrow’s topic

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :149

The following quote about fragrances is from my co-authored book Prescriptions for a Healthy House: A Practical Guide for Architects, Builders and Homeowners The 3rd edition was released earlier this month.

In the days before “better living through chemistry,” fragrances were made from flowers. Now approximately 95 percent of all ingredients used by the fragrance industry are synthetic. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, about 4,000 petroleum derived chemicals are used in fragrances. These include toluene, formaldehyde, acetone, benzene derivatives, methylene chloride, phenyl, ethyl alcohol, methyl ethyl ketone, and benzyl acetate. A single fragrance can contain as many as 600 different chemicals.

In a 1988 study, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health identified 884 toxic substances in a partial list of 2,983 chemicals now being used by the fragrance industry. Many of these substances are capable of causing cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders, reproductive disorders, and skin irritation. According to the National Academy of Sciences, there is minimal or no data on toxicity for 84 percent of the ingredients found in fragrances. Currently there is no agency regulating the fragrance industry. The FDA is aware of the serious nature of the problem but is unable to undertake the astronomical expense of testing each of the chemicals found in fragrances. Without such testing, the FDA would be subject to lawsuits by manufacturers if fragrances were banned. Thus, as is often the case, the onus falls on the consumer to make informed choices.

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