I love to walk in nature, hiking or just strolling through the forest, however, I can’t always manage it so I walk through my neighborhood instead. I live in a hilly part of town and frequently walk fast; aka power walk, it gives me a great cardio workout. I love to check out the landscaping, plants and outdoor décor for ideas to use at home. But I primarily use this time for thinking and to brainstorm ideas and topics I’d like to write about.
One of my most favorite parts of walking is smelling all the flowers, trees and fresh cut grass. But, and this is a big issue for me, when the chemical and artificial scents of laundry detergent and dryer sheets rudely interrupt this olfactory experience my immediate response is to hold my breath. This is challenging when you’re pushing yourself quickly up a hill as you can get light headed and dizzy. Sometimes I attempt a shallow inhale and a deep exhale, this can lead to hyperventilation and unconsciousness. Neither of these options is really an option at all so I just try to go as fast as I can until I’m past that particular house. The real difficulty arises when there are several houses in a row exuding chemical scents. Since running is not my forte I just have to tough it out and hope I’m not doing too much damage.
You might be wondering why I would not want to smell these fragrances, I mean they are created to smell like lemon, jasmine, pine, etc. Who doesn’t love these scents? Don’t get me wrong, like I said before, I love the smells of nature. The key word here being NATURE. These scents are not natural in any way, they are synthetic and man-made, created in a lab using hazardous materials.
Dryer vents release as many as 600 dangerous chemicals into the environment from dryer sheets and scented laundry detergents. Two of these ingredients; acetaldehyde and benzene are carcinogenic. Seven of them are classed as hazardous air pollutants. You won’t find these ingredients listed on the label because fragrances are exempt from the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling act of 1973 which requires cosmetics and personal care products to list the ingredients on the label. You will find only ambiguous words like fragrance, perfume, surfactants or softeners.  Manufacturers are not required to specify the ingredients of the fragrances in their products. When you see the word fragrance on the label you can assume this will equal hidden chemicals. 
The FDA passed an Act in 1938 requiring regulation of toxic ingredients in cosmetic, household cleaning and personal care products (ie: tampons) but have failed to do so for the last eight generations.  At this point all manufacturers are self-regulated. We can generally assume our best interests are not being represented.
These synthetic chemical scents have been shown to cause cancer, fetal, hormonal and reproductive toxicity, developmental harm, organ damage, immune system suppression, endocrine disruption, asthma and allergies. Even more disturbing are the findings of toxic chemicals in breast milk.  Synthetic fragrances are contributing to this very scary fact.
Finding products without synthetic fragrances is a challenge as they are in perfumes, cosmetics, hair and skin care, cleaning and laundry products, candles, plug-ins and air fresheners, etc. But the safe products are out there; look for free and clear products, these are without fragrances or dyes. Use organic essential oils (pregnant women should use caution and consult their doctor) or go au natural, let the real you shine through. To eliminate static cling; air dry your laundry or put a wad of aluminum foil in the dryer. Learn to make your own dryer sheets here. Alternative and safe cleaning products are very basic; white vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. When shopping for personal care items make sure they are fragrance and perfume free. If they have a scent from an essential oil it will be listed very clearly on the label.
Many people have chemical sensitivities but are unaware that this might be what is causing their problems. This is a partial list of symptoms: Dizziness, poor memory, coughing, brain fog, eczema, arthritis, headache, sneezing, sore throat, rash, chronic fatigue, seizures, hearing loss and candidiasis. Even if you don’t suffer from any of these symptoms it’s still a good idea to avoid them due to the very dangerous health risks they pose.
For the health of ourselves, our families and the environment; begin by changing the household and personal care products you are using. It takes time, but when you replace an empty item be sure to choose a safe and non-hazardous option. Eventually you will find you are a chemical free household.
 Mercola.com “Is This Toxin Wafting from your Dryer Vent” April 26, 2012
 Mercola.com “Is Your Perfume Poison?” November 27, 2013
 FDA.gov – History and Milestones “ Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic (FDC) Act of 1938
 Mercola.com “Reckless Self-Interest of the Fragrance Industry” July 22, 2010