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.
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