Chemicals found in fabric softeners by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Compiled by Julia Kendall (1935-1997)
Reference: Lance Wallace, EPA Identification of Polar Volatile Organic Compounds in consumer Products and Common Microenvironments, 1991
Symptoms of exposure are taken from industry generated Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
ALPHA-TERPINEOL-Causes CNS disorders. “highly irritating to mucous membranes.” “Aspiration into the lungs can produce pneumoitis or even fatal edema”. “Can also cause excitement, ataxia (loss of muscular coordination) hypothermia, CNS and respiratory depression and headache”. “Prevent repeated or prolonged skin contact.”
BENZYL ACETATE-Carcinogenic (linked to pancreatic cancer) “From vapors: irritating to eyes and respiratory passages, exciting cough.” “In mice: hyperemia of the lungs.” “Can be absorbed through the skin causing systemic effects.” “Do not flush to sewer.”
BENSYL ALCOHOL-Cause CNS disorders. “irritating to the upper respiratory tract” “headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drop in blood pressure, CNS depression, and death in sever cases due to respiratory failure.”
CAMPHOR-Causes CNS disorders. On EPS’s Hazardous Waste list. Symptoms: “local irritant and CNS stimulant.” “readily absorbed through body tissues” “irritation of eyes, nose and throat” “dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles and convulsions” “Avoid inhalation of vapors.”
CHLOROFORM-Carcinogenic. On EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. “Avoid contact with eyes, skin, clothing. Do not breathe vapors…Inhalation of vapors may cause headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, irritation of respiratory tract and loss of consciousness.” “Chronic effects of overexposure may include kidney and/or liver damage.” “Medial conditions generally aggravated by exposure: kidney disorders, liver disorders, heart disorders, skin disorders.” Conditions to avoid
HEAT ETHANOL-On EPA Hazardous Waste list. Causes CNS disorders. Symptoms- “fatigue, irritating to eyes and upper respiratory tract even in low concentrations…” “Inhalation of ethanol vapors can have effects similar to those characteristic of ingestion. These include an initial stimulatory effect followed by drowsiness, impaired vision, ataxia, stupor…”
ETHYL ACETATE-Narcotic. On EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. “irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract”…”may cause headache and narcosis (stupor)”…defatting effect on skin and may cause drying and cracking”…”may cause anemia with leukocytosis and damage to liver and kidneys” “wash thoroughly after handling.”
LIMONENE- Carcinogenic. “Prevent its contact with skin or eyes because it is an irritant and sensitizer.” “Always wash thoroughly after using this material and before eating, drinking, applying cosmetics. Do not inhale limonene vapor.”
LINOLOOL-Narcotic. Cause CNS disorders. “respiratory disturbances”…Attracts bees.” In animal test: ataxic gait, reduced spontaneous motor activity and depression…development of respiratory disturbances leading to death.”…”depressed frog heart activity.
PENTANE-Danger—Harmful if inhaled; extremely flammable. Keep away from heat…Avoid breathing vapor.” “Inhalation of vapors may cause headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, and irritation of respiratory tract and loss of consciousness. Repeated inhalation of vapors may cause central nervous system depression. Contact can cause eye irritation. Prolonged exposure may cause dermatitis (skin rash).”
Do Fabric Softeners Make You Sick?
Exposure can result from the outgassing of vented dryers or from treated fabrics (e.g., clothes, sheets, towels), which are in close proximity to you. Questions to ponder:
*Have you been enjoying a walk in the neighborhood and found you have suddenly fallen without realizing why?
*Do you get a numb feeling in the side of your face—and the doctors can’t find the reason?
*Do you get a sudden onset of dizziness or a headache?
*Fabric softeners, like other fragrant products, contain petrochemicals, used in untested combination. These chemicals can adversely affect the central nervous system (CNS)—your brain and spine.
*CNS exposure symptoms include: aphasia, blurred vision, disorientation, dizziness, headaches, hunger memory loss, numbness in face, pain in neck and spine.
*CNS disorders include: Alzheimer’s Disease, Attention Deficit Disorder, Dementia, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Seizures, Strokes, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
*If you use fabric softens liquid or sheets STOP Save the container as evidence—doctors can request analysis. If made ill by fabric softener used by another person give product name if known. Provide a description of your symptoms. Take this paper to your doctor to help document your symptoms.