MCS America

Lourdes Salvador's Column

...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.








Lourdes Salvador is the founder of MCS America, a science writer, and a social advocate for the greater awareness of environmental contamination, human toxicology, and propagation of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) as a disorder of organic biological origin induced by toxic environmental insults.

For more information visit MCS America




Monday, June 7th, 2010:


Perfume Bans Catching On


by Lourdes Salvador

The perfume industry is not regulated by any government agency and is not required to disclose the ingredients in perfume, cologne, or "fragrance" added to personal care and cleaning products.1

In a new report, "Not So Sexy: The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance", Heather Sarantis, MS, Commonweal; Olga V. Naidenko, PhD, Sean Gray, MS, and Jane Houlihan, MSCE, Environmental Working Group; and Stacy Malkan, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics report that, "The average fragrance product tested contained 14 secret chemicals not listed on the label. Among them are chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions, and many substances that have not been assessed for safety in personal care products. Also in the ranks of undisclosed ingredients are chemicals with troubling hazardous properties or with a propensity to accumulate in human tissues."

Popular name-brand fragrances contained an average of 14 undisclosed chemicals, 66% of which have never been tested for human safety according to the new study.

The Fragrance Materials Association )FMA) says, "There are no 'secret chemicals' in fragrances.  The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) has published a list of 3,163 fragrance ingredients used in consumer products, publicly accessible at"

However, the list that the FMA refers to is a long list of chemicals, not a list of the ingredients which make up any specific product. Because the exact ingredients of a particular fragrance are undisclosed, consumers are not able to make choices between products or avoid chemicals which cause negative health effects.

Prior analysis of fragranced products also revealed undisclosed chemicals with known irritant and neurotoxic properties.3,4,5 There are over 3,000 chemicals used in fragrance and 95% of which are derived from petroleum.1 The National Academy of Sciences targeted fragrances as one of the six categories of chemicals that should be given high priority for neurotoxicity testing.1

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has acknowledged that fragrances have the potential to cause health problems and has limited their use in its buildings as part of its June 2009 internal Indoor Environmental Quality Policy.

In order to protect the health of its employees, the CDC banned the use and application of fragranced products such as perfume, cologne, deodorant, body spray, cleaners, and air freshener. Instead, fragrance free deodorants and biodegradable, low toxicity, fragrance-free cleaning products are encouraged.

If a leading health authority such as the CDC has banned fragrances due to their health effects, should we? The Ohio Network for the Chemically Injured (ONFCI) thinks so.

The ONFCI, a non-profit corporation that educates and advocates on behalf of those who have been harmed by toxic chemicals, is urging adoption of the CDC fragrance free policy by all employers, businesses, and homeowners and has made copies of the CDC policy available at Cuyahoga County Public Library´s 28 branches and their administrative office buildings.

Numerous schools, medical facilities, and some employers, such as the Broward County Sheriff´s Office, and cities, including the City of Detroit, have already banned fragrances.

"Readily achievable policies include prohibiting the use of any air fresheners, air wicks, plug-ins, incense, candles, reed diffusers, fragrance-emitting devices of any kind, plug-in or spray air fresheners, and toilet blocks. Encourage fragrance-free personal care and laundry products and request employees to be as fragrance-free as possible," says Toni Temple of ONFCI, "The use of "green" cleaning chemicals and building materials along with monitoring for appropriate ventilation will not only reduce indoor air contamination, but will reduce employee absenteeism as well."

Personal Care Products to Avoid

  • Perfume and Cologne
  • All Scented Products - including soaps, shampoo, conditioner, and bath products
  • Scented Lotions
  • Scented Shaving Cream, Aftershave
  • Scented Deodorants and Anti-Perspirants
  • Scented Shampoo and Conditioner, Hair Spray, Hair Gel and Mousse, and Hair Color
  • Scented Nail Polish and Remover
  • Scented Make-up
  • Scented Anti-Bacterial Hand Wipes or Hand Sanitizer
  • Other Scented Toiletries

Personal Care Products to Use Instead

  • Fragrance Free Products - soaps, shampoo, conditioner, and bath products
  • Lotion - use unscented versions or natural oils such as jojoba, coconut, and olive oil
  • Shaving Cream - soap
  • Aftershave - witch hazel or hydrogen peroxide
  • Deodorant - peroxide, natural salt crystal, baking soda, unscented deodorants
  • Hair Styling - aloe vera gel, lemon juice
  • Hair Color - natural variations, peroxide to bleach, all natural henna for color
  • Shampoo / Conditioner - unscented variations, baking soda, vinegar, citric acid, oils
  • Nail Polish and Remover - safer variations from a health food store or go au natural
  • Make-up - unscented, natural variations or go au natural

A quick fact sheet on fragrances may be found at


Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA). Fragrance Free! Creating a Safe Health Care Environment. 2007.

Steinemann AC. Fragranced consumer products and undisclosed ingredients. Environ Impact Asses Rev (2008), doi:10.1016/j.eiar.2008.05.002.

Anderson RC, Anderson JH. Acute toxic effects of fragrance products.  Arch Environ Health. 1998 Mar-Apr;53(2):138-46.

Steinemann AC. Fragranced consumer products and undisclosed ingredients.  Environ Impact Asses Rev (2008), doi:10.1016/j.eiar.2008.05.002.

Heather Sarantis, MS, Commonweal; Olga V. Naidenko, PhD, Sean Gray, MS, and Jane Houlihan, MSCE, Environmental Working Group; and Stacy Malkan, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.  Not So Sexy:  The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance.  2010.  Retrieved from






For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.


Copyrighted 2010 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America



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