EHN [of California]
P.O. Box 1155
Larkspur, California, 94977-0074

Support and Information Line
(SAIL) 415.541.5075
A 501 (c) (3) non profit agency.

EcoAlert from American PIE

Title: Chemical care

Date: 28 July, 1999

Who would think that fragrances, scents and perfumes...and thousands of other personal care products...represent an environmental health hazard? Flowers and herbs have pleasured the olfactory senses for thousands of years. Today, however, 95% of the mix in most fragrances is made from synthetic chemicals. Personal care might more accurately be called 'chemical care.' Few products have been tested for safety, and the risks to the people exposed are typically dismissed.

What can not be dismissed, however, are some unsettling facts. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, 884 toxic substances used in the fragrance industry are capable of causing breathing difficulty, allergic reactions and multiple chemical sensitivities. Scents, too, can be particularly troubling for asthma sufferers; toluene, known to trigger asthma attacks, was detected in every fragrance sample collected by the EPA for a report in 1991. When fragrances are exposed to the sun, skin rashes can sometimes develop. Preservatives are used in fragrances to prevent bacterial contamination; according to MD's Steinman and Epstein, "The Safe Shopper's Bible" (Macmillan, 1995), some of the most allergenic preservatives release formaldehyde, an irritant as well as a carcinogen and neurotoxin. Other common ingredients, e.g., methylene chloride, are also carcinogenic.

The health risks of synthetic fragrances impact users for sure. Like second-hand smoke, fragrances also affect others in everyday indoor environments. Commonplace allergic reactions and other health hazards can be reduced by selecting environmentally friendly products. Consult "The Safe Shopper's Bible" for ratings of personal care products. Remember, too, that manufacturers are not required to disclose chemicals used in manufacturing, nor to provide warning labels on products informing consumers that the materials in the products have not been tested for safety.

The Environmental Health Network of California (EHN), however, is challenging the odors coming from industry. This group is filing a petition with the FDA to require warning labels on cosmetic products for which adequate substantiation of safety has not been obtained. American PIE urges support of the petition and the work of EHN, a 501(c)(3) non-profit group, P.O. Box 1155, Larkspur, CA 94977-0074, telephone 415-541-5075. For petitioning information, search out the petition site: Add your voice to the FDA petition ... and purchase environmentally safe products for personal care, not chemical care.

Act today on this EcoAlert, and thank you for your environmental responsibility.

American PIE
Public Information on the Environment
124 High Street, P.O. Box 340
South Glastonbury, CT 06073-0340
Telephone: 1-800-320-APIE(2743)

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Please write to the FDA in support of this petition.
Betty Bridges, FPIN
Barbara Wilkie, EHN (Barb's email is no longer valid, please contact EHN)

Please put FDA Letter in subject line. Thanks .

To view a sample letter, visit: LETTER

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The Environmental Health Network (EHN) [of California] is a 501 (c) (3) non profit agency and offers support and information for the chemically injured. The URL for EHN's homepage is