Fragrance dangers: the slippery slope of scented soaps

A visibly-repulsed boy plugging his nostrils

30.5% of Americans feel like doing this around heavily-scented individuals.

As two wise scholars once concluded, “yeah, roses really smell like poo-oo-ooo.” Seemingly pretty or pleasant things can sometimes reveal their own putrid and essentially sceptic realities.

It seems safe to say that no one particularly enjoys swimming in the malodor of someone who skimps on shower time. Anyone who has ever ridden on a crowded city bus, for instance, understands the horror of spending 10 to 15 minutes ensconced in the combined stench of multiple strangers’ armpits as they sway and tumble through tumultuous urban roadways. If push literally came to shove, we all might admit to deriving at least a small amount of satisfaction from shoving pit-stain-Pete overboard. In short, a little water and soap is good! What is NOT so good, dear readers, are most fragranced soaps, and so we will veer away from our personal problems (damn that putrid bus!) and direct our discussion to the hazards and dangers of using the scented products that are so heavily marketed to us. Yes, we all want to smell “good,” but perhaps smelling like a fruit smoothie does not merit the life-diminishing consequences it can eventually bring about.

The least of your worries…

A national survey regarding a general sample of the American population sheds light on the reactions people have to perfumed individuals. According to Stanley M. Caress and Anne C. Steinemann, two Ph.Ds published by the University of Washington, “a considerable percentage of the U.S. population reports adverse health effects or irritation from fragranced products, with higher percentages among those with asthma and chemical sensitivity.” The statistics are as follows:

- 30.5% of the general population (US) reported scented products on other’s “irritating.”
- 19% reported adverse health effects from air fresheners.
-10.9% reported irritation by scented laundry products vented outside.

From this data we can conclude that, when fragranced products in our environment aren’t exacerbating the health concerns of those with preexisting respiratory ailments and allergies, they are hard at work irritating the crap out of many others.

If that isn’t enough to convince you that pervasive fragrances piss more than a few people off, consider the “fragrance-free value statements” being issued by several environmentally-conscious institutions. Portland State University and North Seattle Community College are just two examples of polite, if not sincere, efforts to minimize the “air pollution” that can result from personal use products. Washington is actually a leading pioneer of the Fragrance-Free policy, the upholding of which includes “fiscal legal and regulatory constraints.” Clearly, there is a significant fuss being made about smelling like a rosebud in public, and speculation as to why this fuss is being made is quite revealing.

What’s so harmful about a fragrance?

Well, we’re glad you asked! It turns out that the fragrances in personal use products can be harmful to anyone’s health, regardless of whether or not they’re part of the extremely-allergic-to-odors minority. One particular “scent” can be created by hundreds of toxic chemicals, some of which are introduced to a naturally occurring scent to increase its lingering (and generally annoying, as we have previously concluded) capabilities. A few of the chemicals that go into creating these fragrances we are told will make our bodies more appealing are:

- Human carcinogens: substances that are agents directly involved in causing cancer.

- Endocrine Disrupters: chemicals that interfere with the endocrine (hormone) system.

- Reproductive toxicants: defined by Osha “as any chemical which affects the reproductive capabilities of males or females, including chromosomal damage (metagenesis) and effects on fetuses (teratogenesis).”

OSHA, by the way, stands for the Occupational Safety and and Health Administration, and is run under the auspices of the United States Department of Labor. Institutions like Portland State University and North Seattle Community College can legally enforce fragrance free policies because the harmful effects of chemicals that create these long lasting fragrances we shell out for are outlined in the national guidelines for safe, productive environments. Similar to how federal law has determined that bar staff shouldn’t have to suffer the health risks associated with second-hand smoke while trying to eke out a living, Osha has begun to lay very clear ground work for justifying the banishment of extraneous scents and fragrances from places of work and education.

The fragrance industry

A few companies seem to be making a lot of money off of their ability to convince us that we naturally smell bad and that the only conclusion to be made is that yes, women should smell like freshly-picked strawberries and men should smell like pine forests. Remember our public transportation analogy? Nobody wants to smell like a sweaty orifice.  And maybe those companies are right to a certain degree–the succulent smell of honeysuckles and vanilla, as they present themselves in nature, are pleasant enough to behold. The problem is that these aesthetic pleasantries can make us and those around us sick–sometimes deathly so.

A different way of looking at this smelly conundrum we’ve concocted presents a better solution: shower regularly, but use mild products that are made out of ingredients you know and can trust. At Co-soap, we have the perfect solution for those who want to keep themselves freshly clean, cancer free and (hopefully) as little annoying in indoor spaces as can possibly be. Our pure, fragrance-free soap is handmade with your sensitive body and our delicate airborne environment in mind and is 100% hypoallergenic.

Natural, pure olive oil.

We use ingredients you could eat. If you actually wanted to. (We're not judging!)

Our ingredients, as well as the process they go through to evolve from delicious edible resources into delectably-nourishing soaps, are listed right on the package! At Co-Soap we believe that you and your body should never have to settle with less.





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3 Responses to Fragrance dangers: the slippery slope of scented soaps

  1. Greg Elenbaas says:

    Very good article Rayna! Looking forward to your next one. Hopefully then you can explain the differences between scents from plant based essential oils versus those derived chemically.

  2. Robin says:

    Added, I really like your blog! :)

  3. Kaethe says:

    Great put up, I will be viewing back frequent looking for improvements.

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