For those who may have received perfume, cologne or aftershave for Christmas–beware. Even expensive perfumes are usually made with a toxic soup of dangerous and untested chemicals that can produce problems from allergies to hormone disruption. The problem is that manufacturers are exempt from listing the ingredients of anything labeled as a "fragrance," and many of the ingredients used to make fragrances are toxic. A recent study by the Environmental Working Group and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics had well-known, name-brand fragrances analyzed for their chemical content. The group sent 17 perfumes to an independent testing laboratory, and found some surprises that you need to know about. Here is what they found: The average perfume contained 10 known allergens that can trigger reactions from asthma to headaches to contact dermatitis. Even more disturbing, the researchers uncovered 10 chemicals known to disrupt the hormonal (endocrine) system. Each perfume contained an average of four of these chemicals. An endocrine disruptor is a synthetic chemical that either mimics or blocks hormones and disrupts the body’s normal functions when absorbed into the body. This disruption can happen through altering normal hormone levels, halting or stimulating the production of hormones, or changing the way hormones travel through the body—thus affecting the functions that these hormones control. This disruption of control can lead to a variety of health problems including reduced fertility, increased rates of cancer, abnormal sexual development and reduced brain and nervous system development. While the above is bad enough, other perfume ingredients are known to react with indoor air to form formaldehyde, ultrafine particles and other pollutants. These dangerous fragrance chemicals are also found in air fresheners, shampoos, lotions, bath products, and dishwashing and laundry detergents. BHN recommends avoiding all products containing fragrances, unless you know the fragrance is made fromnatural herbs or flowers.
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