EHN [of California]
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A 501 (c) (3) non profit agency.

Dear Mad Scientists:

Re: What is the chemical structure of perfume?

    "... One website that's good at listing perfume-related data is this: This site is run by a bunch of people who think that the chemicals in perfumes can kill you, and that perfumes are poorly tested on people. Don't be alarmed when you read this stuff: ..."

Excuse me, but Rachel Carson was disparaged, too. And, Jacki Barineau is an individual -- one of millions who now live with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) -- but a "bunch of people" are not running her website. She has put together all of that work reflected on her site, to help others who are sick, and who have doctors, employers, school officials, et al., who are clueless as to the harmful effects of superfluous toxins in our commonly used household and personal care products.

The big problem is -- and daily, more information is coming out! -- the fragrance industry has said its products are safe, but they do not provide the data to prove it. The industry is protected by trade secret laws. Yet trade secret status does not protect the industry from "rip-off" scents being manufactured. However, that status does protect the industry from an informed consumership ... and their astute doctors.

Did you realize the fragrance industry is unregulated? Well, "self-regulated" but that works only for those naive enough to believe the fox CAN guard the henhouse. Please do not take my word for the industry being unregulated, check with the US Food and Drug Administration, which states, in part:

    "Neither cosmetic products nor cosmetic ingredients are reviewed or approved by FDA before they are sold to the public. FDA cannot require companies to do safety testing of their cosmetic products before marketing. If, however, the safety of a cosmetic product has not been substantiated, the product's label must read
      'WARNING: The safety of this product has not been determined.'"
Sooooo, with outside tests being performed, we've discovered that what those already ill have been saying bears serious attention by the various experts -- and our government officials.

There are no warning labels on fragrances released to market without adequate testing. And despite the fact that the National Academy of Sciences recommended to the 99th Congress in September 1986 that fragrances be tested for neurotoxicity, that still has not been done. Nor have they been adequately tested for adverse effects upon inhalation, nor absorption through the skin and/or eyes. Fragrance chemicals cross the blood- and placental-brain barriers, target organs, store in adipose (fatty) tissue.

There is evidence that fragrance chemicals cross the placental barrier. See

There is evidence suggesting that fragrances act upon the brain as do alcohol and tobacco. See

The Environmental Health Network has a petition before the FDA to request that they follow their regulations already on their books to require warning labels on fragrances released to market without adequate testing. The analyses of six fragrances can be found as part of that petition. Please see FDA Petition at

Material Safety Data Sheets are produced by the industry. But it is from MSDS that we learn that common fragrance chemicals are known and/or suspected irritants, sensitizers, carcinogens ... hormone disruptors.

Have you ever wondered about the soaring rates of asthma? Those soaring rates march side-by-side with the proliferation for synthetic fragrances. Not only have synthetic fragrances been added to a greater array of products during these past 20 years, when asthma really took off, but they are worn more places by more people than ever before.Additionally, fragrances have been formulated to "announce" one's arrival, to "remind" one, to waft further, last longer. Fragrances are added to pesticides so people do not object to inhaling the KNOWN TOXINS -- others are hidden behind the misnomer: INERT. Synthetic fragrances in personal care and cleaning/maintenance products have become ubiquitous.

But times, they are a changin'. Recently, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) published "Asthmatics¼ reactions to common perfumes" -- see -- scroll down.

For another viewpoint of fragrance industry facts, please visit the website of Betty Bridges, RN -- Fragranced Products Information Network

Rather than disparaging Jacki Barineau and others of us volunteers who are seeking cleaner air -- not only for ourselves, but for ALL -- I suggest you study modern synthetic fragrance manufacture. Perhaps you should also look beyond just the MILLIONS of us living with MCS -- recently determined 6.3% of the population in California alone -- and look at those soaring rates of asthma, eczema, acne, ADD, rheumatoid arthritis, low-birth weight babies, cancers, CFIDS (Chronic fatigue...), GWS (Gulf War Syndrome), Parkinson's, incontinence ... The list of environmental illnesses is seemingly endless, as is the list of some 70,000 chemicals in the economy today.

The industry has made an enormous profit on using petrochemicals, et al. in the manufacture of synthetic fragrances. The price paid by those of us who have had our health ruined by superfluous toxins is beyond measure. Many of us have had our health ruined by synthetic fragrance products used by OTHERS. But as bad as it is, what is worse is that our illnesses are largely preventable. Just think of those who are still masking their early warning symptoms with drugs -- over-the-counter and prescribed -- because their doctors have not listened to all the patients before them. Had the medical industry built a database ?????

What kind of statistics will those yet to be diagnosed with an environmental illness make? Remember statistics to one, is a life to another. It is high time we listen to the Jacki Barineaus of this world. None should be so smug as to think chemical injury can ONLY happen to the "other guy."


Barbara Wilkie
(My convention is prevention)

Environmental Health Network
Board member, serving this year as president

(Barb's email is no longer valid, please contact EHN)

EHN at

Additional reference information:

See "Perfume and Fragrance Exposure During Pregnancy: Links to Learning Disabilities, ADD and Behavior Disorders"

The California Air Resources Board states in "Consumer Products and Smog"

"In 1990, consumer products emitted about 265 tons of smog-forming pollution into California's air every day-more than all the refineries and gas stations in the state. Until 1990, the amount of VOCs in these products wasn't regulated."
[10 long years ago -- I'm seeking more up-to-date figures.]

For more information, please visit the web site of Betty Bridges, RN
Fragranced Products Information Network

Support EHN's FDA Petition. WRITE to the FDA today!

Comments? (Barb's email is no longer valid, please contact EHN). Please put WWW in subject line. Thanks.

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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. HomePage is