Episode 19: The Dangers Of Synthetic Fragrances For Your Families’ Health
In this episode, we are talking about synthetic fragrances and perfumes. Where they’re found and why you want to think about avoiding them within your house. Especially when it comes to your kids’ health and exposure to them.
As what we’ve talked about in Episode 4, reducing kids’ exposure to toxins and chemicals is one of the 4 Pillars of Healthy & Happy Kids. This episode is also a sequel of what we’ve discussed in Episode 17. When I talked to Tammy from Building Biology Mama about some of the hazards, chemicals and toxins that are found within the home. It’s such a diverse topic to cover!
I share some of my experiences with this and delve deeper into:
- Which products contain these chemicals and toxins and how to avoid them
- The health hazards involved and what they do to our bodies
- The difference between unscented versus fragrance-free, alternative products to use and more!
Hello, hello! Welcome back to the podcast.
It’s great to have you, thank you so much for joining me today, Jessica Donovan here! Today, we are talking about fragrances, synthetic fragrances and perfumes. Where these chemicals are found and why you want to think about avoiding them within your house. Especially when it comes to your kids’ exposure to them. We’re just really going to delve into this subject a little more today.
On Episode 17, I had a conversation with Tammy from Building Biology Mama. We talked about some of the hazards, chemicals, and toxins that are found within the home. And it was really an overview – this subject is huge. I wanted to, over the next couple of episodes, talk about some specifics and some of the areas that are a really good idea to start with. If you’re wanting to start to reduce toxins and chemicals within your home. As I said your kids’ exposure to these. So if you haven’t had a listen to Episode 17 with Tammy, make sure you do. We gave an overview of this subject of creating a healthier home for your family and we also talk about EMFs, Electromagnetic fields, which is a really interesting area to know more about.
I also talked a little bit about fragrances as toxins in Episode 4, which is the 4 Pillars of Healthy Kids. These are the four different areas that we focus on here at Natural Super Kids to improve kids’ health and nutrition. One of those areas is reducing exposure to toxins and chemicals, which is so super important for our kids. So if you’re interested in this subject, make sure you also have a listen to Episode 4. And Episode 17, which is with Tammy from Building Biology Mama.
I wanted to delve into this subject. Because I think when we’re starting to think about reducing our kids’ exposure to toxins and chemicals, synthetic fragrances is a great place to start. They do have so many negative health impacts, which we’re going to be talking about today. Synthetic fragrances are literally found everywhere. So if we can start to reduce our use of these products that contain synthetic fragrances, it’s a big tip for our kids’ and families’ health.
Now, I recently got back from a little trip away. We went away for a week of the school holidays to one of our favourite all-time coastal towns. It’s Robe in the Southeast. It is almost halfway between Adelaide and Melbourne. We just love Robe so much! So many great things to do. It’s a really great combination of lots of outdoor activities. There’s lakes, there’s the ocean, there’s great bike riding. Then there’s a great little town with beautiful restaurants and cafes, gift shops and that sort of thing. So anyway, we recently went there for a week and had a lovely time. We hired an Airbnb as you do. As soon as I walked into this beautiful, cute, little Airbnb, a couple of streets back from the beach, the smell hit me.
I knew that there were synthetic fragrances and this is the thing. When you stop using synthetic fragrances in your home, then you become super sensitive to them. And fragrances generally as well. So I walked into this home and this synthetic fragrance hit me and I quickly gathered up the reed diffusers. There was three of them around the home and just pop them outside for the duration of our stay. That was something, when I was doing that I thought, “Oh, I need to talk about this on the podcast.”
Also it’s come up a few times with our members in the Natural Super Kids Klub recently. And I think it’s a really, really great place to start when we’re thinking about “healthyfying” our homes. So I wanted to build on that conversation that I had with Tammy really focusing on fragrances. These synthetic fragrances are found everywhere. Obviously they’re found in things like air fresheners. Those plug-in air fresheners that are really common these days. The reed diffusers that I was just talking about, in perfumes, in aftershaves, in scented candles, in almost all cleaning and personal care products. From creams and deodorants, even makeups and sunscreens to things like laundry detergents, and even rubbish bags.
A few years ago, I accidentally bought those scented rubbish bags. The smell of them is just so strong. So I think it goes with this whole idea, this hygiene idea that we’re sold as mums. That things need to smell fresh and be ultra-hygienic for our kids to be safe but really, the opposite is true. These fragrances that make us feel like things are clean and fresh are actually having a detrimental effect on our health as humans, especially our kids’ health. Things like incense contain fragrances. I don’t know about you, but when I was a teenager, I used to burn a lot of incense in my bedroom. Things like toilet deodorisers and even really unusual things.
So I just wanted to also bring up a story, a conversation that came up in the Natural Super Kids Klub just a couple of weeks ago. One of our Kub members, Charlie, brought to our attention the fact that she was looking at purchasing this beautiful little doll for her daughter. She soon found out that it had fragrance in it, like synthetic fragrance. So these things are everywhere. You really do need to be on the lookout. Anything that smells, you need to be thinking about these synthetic fragrances. It is really hard to move away from them completely but we can really start to make small steps. That is what we are all about here at Natural Super Kids, to start to reduce the use of these kinds of things in our homes.
Now it’s a tricky area because these synthetic fragrances and perfumes are literally made up of thousands of different chemicals. Things like petrochemicals and phthalates and all kinds of nasty chemicals with known adverse health effects. But manufacturers get around this. Manufacturers are not required to list out all the ingredients that are contained within a fragrance or a perfume because of trade secrecy laws. So what we want to be looking out for is, fragrance on the label or perfume on the label. These are two red flags that there are synthetic fragrances made up of hundreds or thousands of different chemicals that we know have adverse health effects.
So let’s go through some of these health effects, they are significant and this is not an exhaustive list. But these are some of the common health effects that are associated with the chemicals that are used within synthetic fragrances and perfumes. Headaches, migraines, asthma and respiratory problems. Neurodevelopmental disorders in children, thyroid disorders, allergies, contact dermatitis, or eczema, dizziness, nausea. So many of the chemicals that are used within synthetic fragrances are neurotoxins that is they are toxic to our neurological system. They are endocrine disruptors, so they disrupt our hormone balance and they can act as hormones within our body too. A lot of them are known carcinogens as well.
I mean, it just blows your mind that chemicals like this are allowed to be put in things like air fresheners. Sprayed around our homes, around our children and babies. So as always with chemicals and toxins. Children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable. Tammy touched on this, children are not just small versions of us. They obviously have a higher rate of growth. Their detox pathways are immature, and so they cannot handle or detoxify toxins and chemicals like we can. Obviously pregnant women are growing a very precious little bundle inside. They are again, particularly vulnerable to the health effects of these kinds of chemicals and toxins that are found in synthetic fragrances and perfumes.
So we want to be really careful of these things. It can be really difficult to avoid them altogether. But anything that smells you want to be thinking about, “Hmm, what is in this and what could I sort of replace this with that is more natural?” It is really concerning that manufacturers don’t need to label all the ingredients within a particular product. Even if you don’t get any obvious symptoms when you are exposed to a fragrance. Or if you think, oh I’ve been wearing perfume all my life and I’ve never had headaches from it, I don’t have asthma. I’ve got nothing wrong with my thyroid.
You know, these substances, as I said, are neurotoxins. They are endocrine disruptors, and they are known carcinogens, many of them as well. So if that’s not a good enough reason to reduce or eliminate your use of these things, then I’m not sure what would be. I hope that that is really enough to inspire you to start to reduce your use of these chemicals fragrances. Synthetic fragrances within your home and within the products that you are using. Let’s talk about how we can actually do that in a practical sense. None of us want to have a smelly home or smelly body. We want to make sure things are fresh and they smell nice but overall I think generally we can use less smelly things.
When we think about the products that we use as women particularly. The different creams, lotions, makeups, body washes, shampoos, conditioners, hair products, sunscreens. We’re literally putting dozens of products onto our bodies, faces and skin every day, a lot of us. And so we want to start to think about minimising the amount of products that we’re using. Certainly, minimising the products that we are using that contain synthetic fragrances. For this reason, women are more vulnerable generally to the adverse health effects of synthetic fragrances. Because we use more generally of these kinds of products. Using less smelly things, fresh air, you know opening up the house, the doors, the windows.
Having good screens so you can keep your doors open regularly. This is great for a fresh smelling house but it’s also really good for indoor air quality. To air out our house and open the doors and windows as often as possible. Things like pot plants which are really popular at the moment. Fresh flowers and freshly cut herbs around the home can really help to create that lovely smell within the home. More natural, not so synthetic. Looking for things that are fragrance-free. You can often find washing powders that are fragrance-free or skin creams that are fragrance-free.
Fragrance-free doesn’t necessarily mean there are no damaging chemicals or no toxins and chemicals in there that we need to avoid but fragrance-free is a good move when we’re trying to reduce the amount of fragrance that we use. So looking for fragrance-free products can be really helpful. Now I just wanted to say a little note on unscented because you would think that unscented and fragrance-free mean the same thing. Unscented can still have fragrance added to it to cover up the fragrance of the chemicals or the other ingredients that are used within there.
Looking for fragrance-free as opposed to unscented is an important differentiation.
Then we can use more natural naturally-based fragrances. 100% pure essential oils. We can use those or buy products that contain these as opposed to synthetic fragrances and perfumes. When we’re looking for perfumes for room sprays, cleaning products, personal care products, for toilet deodorisers. So there’s a whole range of different safer products that we can buy and that we can make ourselves using essential oils.
Essential oils are fantastic. Particularly for the users that we’re talking about today, for deodorising rooms and using in cleaning products. We do still want to be very careful with essential oils though. They are very concentrated, they’re not always safe to use on children or in pregnant women. So we don’t want to just assume that all essential oils are safe because they’re natural. But generally, if we’re choosing the essential oil-based perfumes as opposed to the synthetic perfumes, that’s a huge step in the right direction. And that’s certainly what I do. Using those essential oil rollers as opposed to perfumes. It’s been years since I have used any perfumes and because of my knowledge of this area of fragrances.
I also wanted to mention that there’s loads of different options these days when it comes to more naturally-based products. More eco-friendly based products. Just making sure that we are avoiding anything that says fragrance or perfume on the label. Biome is an online store that is really great resource that I love. I will pop the link to the Biome store in the show notes. They have a really great range of natural perfumes using 100% essential oils. More natural skincare and cleaning products and their standards are really high. So when you’re purchasing from the Biome store, it’s really going to be natural and safe to use. That’s one of my favourite online stores to purchase personal care products, cleaning products and natural perfumes.
If you are a Klub member, we have an essential oil resource in the Klub for you. I interviewed an aroma therapist and she provided a list of Australian-made essential oils. So if you’re a Klub member, definitely go and check that out. I know essential oil companies such as doTERRA and Young Living are really popular. They do make beautiful products but they are not Australian-based companies. I for one prefer to support an Australian-based companies. So when you’re looking at essential oils though, you want to make sure that they are 100% pure essential oils.
There are a lot of essential oils out there that will have fragrance in them. That really defeats the purpose and they tend to be the cheaper ones. Again, a conversation came up in the Klub a few months ago about the Kmart essential oils. Why they are so cheap and you know, on closer examination of the label, there is synthetic fragrance in those essential oils. So you do need to be really careful about making sure that there aren’t any of those synthetic fragrances in the products that you buy.
I would love to hear from you. Message me on Instagram and let me know what action steps you are taking to reduce your family’s exposure to these health damaging synthetic fragrances and perfumes. I always love to hear from podcast listeners and yeah, Instagram’s a great way to get in touch. We are over at Instagram @naturalsuperkids, you can find us over there. Also, if you have enjoyed this episode and it has inspired you to make a change, I would love for you to review the podcast.
When you review the podcast, it helps more mums find this really important information. So head on over to iTunes, it’s the easiest place to review the podcast and leave us a review. That’s another great way that you can connect and give us some feedback. I’d love to hear from you.
Thank you so much for joining me today and I will be back next week!
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