Stop where you are, and step away from the perfume.
Fragrances are bad for your health and your business, according to a new study published in Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health. To figure this out, researchers conducted a nationally representative population survey in the U.S., using a random sample of 1,136 adults. Fragrances considered included air fresheners and deodorizers, personal care products (soap, hand sanitizer, lotion, deodorant, sunscreen and shampoo), cleaning supplies, laundry products, household products (scented candles, toilet paper, trash bags and baby products), and of course, perfumes and colognes.
The study found 99.1 percent of the population are exposed to fragranced products at least once a week from their own use (perfume, laundry, soap, etc.), others’ use (air fresheners, other peoples’ perfume, etc.), or both.
That may make the world smell like roses, but unfortunately, 34.7 percent of the population reported health problems, such as migraines and respiratory difficulties, when exposed to fragranced products. The most common types of adverse effects included respiratory problems (18.6 percent), migraines (15.7 percent). skin problems (10.6) and asthma attacks (8 percent). The most common culprits of these issues were air fresheners/deodorizers, causing 20.4 percent of the reported health problems, and people wearing perfume, with 23.6 percent of the reported health problems coming from being near someone who is wearing a fragrance.
Not only is scent harmful to health, it’s also bad for business. The study found that 20.2 percent of the population reported that if they enter a business and smell air fresheners or some fragranced product, they want to leave as quickly as possible. So, while we loved that overload of Abercrombie & Fitch cologne as a teenager, it seems it’s time to pull back on the spritz, A&F.
Unfortunately, sometimes it’s hard to tell if something has a fragrance or what that fragrance is made of. Of those surveyed, 46.4 percent were not aware that a “fragrance” in a product is typically a chemical mixture of several dozen to several hundred chemicals, and 67.3 percent were not aware that fragranced products typically emit hazardous air pollutants such as formaldehyde. Thought you were safe going green or organic? Think again, as 72.6 percent were not aware that even so-called natural, green and organic fragranced products typically emit hazardous air pollutants. Obviously, 60.1 percent would not use a scented product if they knew it emitted hazardous air pollutants.
The problem is, 64.6 percent of the respondents were not aware that fragrance chemicals do not need to be fully disclosed on the product label or material safety sheet.
Bottom line: Whether you’re a business or a perfume-lover, you may want to go easy when spritzing on fragrance — for everyone else’s sake.