Home > Cosmetics > Synthetic Fragrances and the Environment

Synthetic Fragrances and the Environment

By: Helena Stratford - Updated: 11 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Fragrance Perfume Synthetic Synthetic

The timeless allure of perfume is one which makes many multi-millions of pounds for the cosmetics industry each year, and yet environmental scientists are increasingly concerned about their affects on our health as well as their persistence in the environment.

Smell Pollution

Some even suggest that synthetic fragrance has more in common with diesel fumes than natural scent. This is because they are showing all the tell-tale signs of persistent organic pollutants; they are volatile compounds, produced in enormous numbers, which bio-accumulate, do not readily break down in the environment, and are being found stored in the fat of animals – including that of humans.

Many of them are hormone-disrupters, carcinogens, and cause harm to the aquatic environment, where they are found in increasing numbers.

Health Risks

Fragrance manufacture is a boom industry and one which is still on the increase. Thousands of tons of synthetic fragrance are produced each year but with very few legislative restrictions are imposed.

Yet there is wide cause for concern as to the health of those who use them. Studies have shown that the synthetic fragrance chemicals are being found in breast milk, with one comparison study measuring levels as having increased five fold in the last ten years alone.

Indeed as long as a decade ago, several ingredients used in fragrances were the subject of an investigation by the US National Academy of Sciences which labelled them as being on a par with insecticides and solvents in terms of the damage they could do to us.

Up to 100 chemicals may be used in an average perfume, most of which are petro-chemicals i.e. derivatives of the petroleum industry with many suspected to be harmful. In 2004, Pat Thomas from the ‘Ecologist’ magazine analysed a typical and well-selling fragrance product, listing the ingredients and possible effects of the chemicals used.

Below we list some of the synthetic fragrances found in many perfume products and cosmetics.

Common Ingredients of Synthetic Fragrances

Alpha-Terpineol: A floral synthetic fragrance, irritating to nasal passages and mucous membranes. Causes disruption of the central nervous system (CNS) and should be in prolonged or repeated contact with the skin.

Benzenethanol: A sweet-smelling, floral, rose synthetic fragrance which is irritating to the eyes, skin, and upper respiratory tract. It affects bone marrow, causes CNS disruption, and is classed as carcinogenic. Exposure can damage the immune system, cause excess bleeding and lead to aplastic anaemia, excessive bleeding.

Benzenemethanol: Used as a carrier for other fragrance chemicals, benzenemethanol is a solvent and sweet floral synthetic fragrance. Once again it is irritating to eyes, respiratory tract, and skin, is carcinogenic, and can adversely affect the central nervous system.

Benzyl Acetate: A fruity, floral synthetic fragrance which has been linked to pancreatic cancer and again is an irritant to the airways and eyes.

Benzaldehyde, 4-Hydroxy-3-Methoxy: This synthetic fragrance adds vanilla notes but is a nasty additive which aggravates the throat, mouth, lungs, skin, eyes, and gastrointestinal tract. It causes abdominal pain, nausea and kidney damage, as well as CNS damage.

Cyclopentadecanolide: This is one of the artificial musks which are commonly used as a synthetic fragrance in perfume. It is a known hormone disrupting chemical, a carcinogenic, and irritant.

Ethyl linalool; linalool: This synthetic fragrance adds hints of wonderful-sounding French lavender and bergamot. However its reality is very far from wonderful. It is also commonly used in pesticides, is a narcotic and CNS disrupter.

Eugenol: A synthetic fragrance used as a replacement for clove oil. It can trigger contact dermatitis and irritate the skin, eyes, and airways. It is also used in fungicides, insecticides, and pesticides.

Galaxolide 50: Another of the synthetic musk fragrances, also a hormone disrupting chemical, irritant, and a carcinogen.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • JAMES
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    I ordered the laminate flooring from UK Flooring Direct Limited online and fitted in March 2018.After that i noticed very…
    29 November 2018
  • Lenard
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    The person that resides in the apartment above my apartment about 2 weeks ago seems to be making something that has caused…
    24 November 2018
  • J M
    Re: Negative Effects of Sky Glow
    Honestly, this is extremely helpful to know especially because so many people in the world don’t pay attention to these things…
    26 October 2018
  • SeaSiderSeth
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    Hello. I'm the premises manager of a tv company in Clapham and recently Thames Water built 4 or 5 large storm drains all…
    15 October 2018
  • tolu
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    Hello i have a neighbor who lives behind my daughter and me he have Hogs there and this mail is excruciating it makes you…
    19 September 2018
  • Ben
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    Hello, we are in a new build semi detached house. We moved in at the same time as our neighbours last November. However over…
    8 September 2018
  • PollutionIssues
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    Lou - Your Question:What can I do about local farmer spreading putrid slurry/ fertiliser over fields near me? On a warm…
    14 August 2018
  • puppy
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    There’s a house being built across the field to our house. There is a constant smell of diesel which is making me and my…
    6 August 2018
  • Lou
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    What can I do about local farmer spreading putrid slurry/ fertiliser over fields near me? On a warm summer’s evening the…
    1 August 2018
  • savita sharma
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    Hi twice or thrice a week my neighbour do water intake in thire silver that produce horrible smell from his house its…
    27 July 2018