Saturday, March 12, 2016

Baby, beware - scented laundry detergent can trigger asthma.

For Joyce Miller, a 57-year-old professor of library science in upstate New York, one sniff of scented laundry detergent can trigger an asthma attack. "I feel like someone is standing on my chest," she says. "It's almost like a choking feeling—pressure and choking. And then the coughing starts."

I can understand what Joyce is feeling. At home where I breath fresh unpolluted air and can control my environment, I am fine. But when I am out where people are near me, their scented products start me coughing or bring on symptoms of asthma. 

A lovely young woman helps me in my home and tries her best to remember not to wear fragrance when she comes to work. What she doesn't realize is that her clothes reek of the scent in fabric softener.  Fabric softeners are one of the worst products for those of us with respiratory problems. 

The manufacturers will not divulge what chemicals they use to make the smell in their fabric softeners. All that the government requires of them is that they list "fragrance" or "scented" or "parfum." This lets us know there is something added to make it smell, but we have no idea what. The chemicals might contain formaldehyde or another cancer-causing petroleum-based product. The public has not yet made our voices clear about this. 

Natural smells like most flowers do not irritate my lungs, but scents used in personal care products are manufactured from petroleum products. They are harmful.

Are you as concerned about what you wear next to your skin all day and all night as you are about what you ingest through your mouth?

Have you considered that the rash or skin problem you fight with lotions could be caused by your clothes that have been contaminated in your dryer or in your washing machine? The same house keeper washed a mattress cover for me in her washer. She said to me with pride, "I didn't use scented laundry detergent." She knows I use 7th 7th Generation Free and Clear or I make my own detergent with hand soap and washing powder, and I clean with only vinegar and water. 

However, she put the mattress cover into her dryer where fabric softener sheets have been used. Those sheets not only permeated her clothes but her dryer as well, and she will likely never get that smell out. I can't use my mattress cover now. 

If you know someone with a new baby, please tell them about the dangers of using dryer sheets and scented laundry products on a baby who doesn't yet have a strong enough immune system to handle these strong chemicals. Could the air freshener in the room, the scented baby lotion, the baby clothes washed with scented laundry detergent and dried with dryer sheets cause that baby to have an asthma attack in the night? Would the parents be aware? What damage is being done, silently, to an infant in his own bed?

Many are wondering if autism, early asthma and many of the illnesses of infants are caused by the chemicals they are bombarded with when they come home from the hospital. Some doctors have told mothers to try leaving off their perfume when with the baby or throw out all the air fresheners in the house and they find the child's breathing problems go away.

Older people, people weakened by illness, and young children seem to be most easily harmed by these chemicals used in almost all of our household and personal care products today. Babies are born with over 100 harmful chemicals in their bodies. Some of those chemicals have been banned for 30 years, but there they are, in a baby born today.

 I urge you to read your labels and even though you can't find out exactly what is in the bottle or box, if it has the word fragrance listed, leave it on the shelf. Read more about what you can do now to help prevent polluting ourselves and our children in a later blog post. 

For more information on this subject:


DJan said...

I am very sensitive to those smells, too, and that's strange because I cannot smell most things any more. I can't smell lilacs or other scents and it makes me sad that I can still smell those petroleum products. :-(

Far Side of Fifty said...

We have a sign on our door that says Please do not wear cologne or after shave in our home.
Most women who use perfume have damaged their smell receptors so they don't know how badly they smell. Perfume is sometimes made with musk or urine...

I use a free and clear laundry soap and free fabric softner sheets. Bath soap is hard to find without a is shampoo and conditioner. We don't use candles or room freshners or the horrid oils.
For cleaning I mix up vinegar, lemon juice, water and a little dawn dish soap and it cleans like magic.
We rarely attend functions with a large amount of people especially in the winter...summertime is easier because you can escape outside.
One clinic in a local town has banned fragrances...I say Bravo to them:)

Glenda Beall said...

Far Side of Fifty - I wonder if fragrances or scented products affect your husbands, Trigeminal neuralgia. When I am exposed to perfume or artificially scented products, I often get a bad irritation in my nostrils and that precipitates neuralgia in the side of my face and head. It somehow irritates that trigeminal nerve.
Sounds like you do what I do and I need to put a sign on my front door. I have on one my studio door and I make sure people know I have a fragrance free studio.
I found a glycerin hand soap online that I order and it is completely fragrance free. Once I found a Dove unscented soap. I haven't seen it since.
In our area, my chiropractor and my massage therapist has signs asking people not to wear fragrance when they come to the office.
But there are many who do not know the dangers of these chemicals and that is why I talk and write about them. One store owner got upset with me when I told her the dangers of the candles she burned in her store and why I had to leave. I was not angry or criticizing her, but she didn't understand.

Glenda Beall said...

I am learning more and more that it is the young and the older people who have the most trouble with these chemical products. I was pleased to hear on PBS yesterday, someone from EWG speak on the cosmetics industry and how the manufacturers just say they use these bad chemicals within the range FDA says is safe. But most people use six or more personal care products every day, shampoo, soap, hair spray, deodorant, make up for the face, etc. I think the average is 12 products a day for women and men use around six. But some of the young men today use a body spray that will take your head off if you get in the elevator with one of them. That is an additional chemical to the shampoo, soap and shaving lotion, and cologne or after shave.
DJan, I understand how you can't smell some things but others are overpowering. I hardly ever smell flowers now and I miss that.
Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment.

Glenda Beall said...

I just re-read my comments and saw many punctuation errors. I know better, but was in a hurry today.

Vagabonde said...

Growing up I don’t remember anyone having an allergy to anything. But now allergies are very common – I think as you say it is all the various chemicals that are added to so many products and food, too. I read that tobacco smoke was a strong creator of fertile ground for various forms of allergies – that is, if someone smoke around you, then you might acquire allergies to other volatile elements. But I also read, lately, that to prevent peanut allergy in children is to give them peanuts when they are babies …