toxic scents

as many of you know, i am on vacation this week.  vacation on a lake-- staying in a wonderful cabin right on the water.  my girls and i spent yesterday (our first real day of our stay here) kayaking, sleeping, and reading.  a lot.

what we noticed immediately upon arriving at this cabin, however, was the overwhelming scent of household cleaning products, scented candles, and scented sprays used to mask whatever other odors were deemed offensive.  we opened all the doors and windows and have kept them open-- but the scent has only slightly dissipated.

here's the deal: scents or fragrances are added chemicals-- chemicals that volatilize or vaporize into the air. some of those chemicals are considered 'natural'-- i.e. they occur naturally, some are 'synthetic', i.e.-- they care created in a lab.  since the 1980's we have become completely enamored of household products that smell strongly.  most household cleaning products (including bath and body products) contain some combination of 25 common scent chemicals-- all considered (by the epa) toxic under environmental (or low exposure) levels.

during this same time period we have learned how to better construct our houses and buildings to hold heat and air conditioning in, and keep the outdoor air out -- our homes, schools, hospitals, and work-places are more air-tight, more environmentally isolated structures than ever before.

the result-- our indoor air quality is extremely toxic.  people report headaches, sinus irritation-- and the number of people suffering from asthma has increased over the last 30 years.  in a quick survey of articles on the internet i found a cdc report of an increase in the number of asthma sufferers of 75% from 1980 to 1994-- and 1994 was a long time ago.

why is it that we are not aware that we are poisoning ourselves?

the need for organic, environmentally (and people) friendly products is more important than ever.

in the meantime, i have had a headache since yesterday afternoon, and i am thinking about cutting this trip short.



+ said...

mary moore - thank you for writing this post!

i do happen to use a majority of non-toxic cleaners. but i did not realize that fragrances themselves can actually be toxic! now i'm noticing all the products i have that contain artificial fragrances and it's kind of freaking me out... in a good way! i will be much more aware from now on. so, thanks!


shopgirl said...

yeah-- when you start looking the world is a little scary. at least this one is pretty easily solvable-- in your own home, anyway!

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