Monday, December 2, 2013

How Scents are Messing with Your Health

Do you know what's in your home fragrances?
It's fun, frugal, and healthier to make your own. Try a scented spray,
a lime pomander, your own diffuser, and my citrus and salt potpourri. 

If your home is for sale, it better smell good!

I’ve blogged about how important it is to eliminate smells from pets, mold, or cooking. 

Sanitation and ventilation usually take care of these problems. But most of us like to add another fragrance, whether it's an air freshener, a room atomizer, or scented candles. Department stores develop their own signature fragrances to get you in the mood for buying, so why not you?    

The problem is almost all these manufactured scents create health problems. 

Artificially scented products like the ones I mentioned, as well as soaps, laundry detergents, spray cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, pesticides, preservatives, plastics, and a  host of other ordinary items, contain what’s called endocrine disruptors.

An endocrine disruptor is a naturally occurring or man-made chemical that either acts like or blocks the hormones of your internal endocrine system. These false hormones are called xenoestrogens and the list of conditions they create is long: early puberty, lessened female fertility, endometriosis, cancer, and other disturbances to your nervous system, immune system and reproductive system. 
You can see why it’s important to know where you’ll run across these pretender hormones. They can enter our bodies through our skin, the air we breath, and the foods we eat.

You may already know about these ingredients and their effects on the body. If so, please help me spread the word. Rather than fostering paranoia, let’s all look for ways to rid our lives of these toxic chemicals. It’s important.
It’s especially important if you are a woman. And even more so if you are pregnant or could become pregnant. 

On the left -- some of the cleaners that contain xenoestrogens. Yes, even Mrs. Meyer's
stuff contains artificial fragrances. On the right are harmless,economical
 substitutes that do the same work -- baking soda, vinegar, microfiber
cloths and essential oils (not to be confused with fragrance oils).    

Here’s How to Start
  • Read labels. Check for fragrance ingredients. Manufacturers are not required to list all chemical additives by name. The only acceptable fragrance should be “essential oil.”
  • Avoid plastics. Store and cook food in glass or stainless. Avoid non-stick cookware. Microwave in glass or ceramic. Use a fabric instead of a plastic shower curtain. Don't handle new plastic products that have a strong chemical aroma. 
  • Don't touch. Don’t handle the thermal receipt a store gives you. Instead, ask the cashier to place it in your shopping bag. Wash your hands after handling one. 
  • Skip the canned goods. Buy fresh or frozen foods so you can limit exposure to BPA in can linings. Favor organic foods.
  • Filter water. It’s better than drinking spring water that’s been stored in plastic bottles. 
  • Go natural. Use natural insecticides. Purchase unscented bath, beauty, laundry and cleaning products. Do it yourself. Make your own air fresheners and cleaners.     
No one loves a deliciously scented soap more than I do. Check those labels.
You'll find that almost all supermarket soaps are not really soaps,
but "beauty bars" or "deodorant bars," whatever that is!
If you buy locally produced soaps,  you'll fare much better.
Yardley soaps and Dr. Bronners are good.
You can also create your own bath scrubs and skin care products.
I wash my face once a week with a teaspoon of sugar for an exfoliant.


Easy Formulas

Yes, you can create home remedies to replace the nasty but necessary home care products you count on. Read labels of "green products," and if you still don't like what you see, turn to DIY.    

Natural air freshener: Cut orange in half. Scoop out pulp (the part you would eat), and reserve the pulp and the remaining half orange for another use. Rub inside of empty orange half with 2 teaspoons salt. Place in pretty bowl and set where it will scent the room.

Natural oil diffuser: Combine 3 parts mineral oil, 2 parts vodka or gin, and 1 part essential oil of your choice. Pour into container with narrow neck (the neck reduces evaporation). Insert reeds and invert the reeds every few days. Use the same formula minus the mineral oil to make an air freshener spray.  

It's not true that natural essential oils won't bother chemically sensitive people -- people who might be coming to view your home on the market. To be safe, keep the scents in your home on the light side, never overwhelming.       

Fabric softener sheets and liquids are prime offenders. So are the aerosols that claim to
"freshen the air." Below I've given you websites that will hook you up to
directions for making heavenly and user-friendly aroma sources, including sprays and
diffusers.  I love the "candles" that operate on batteries.
They don' t have any fragrance,  but they glow and flicker convincingly.   

Call to Action
     
This post is not a go-green-or-die proclamation. Instead it’s a call to increase our awareness of environmental toxins, so that we can make changes to improve and protect our own and our family’s health.

Will I still bring out the Bar Keeper’s Friend to treat a rust spot that nothing else can tackle? And resort to Lime-Away to deal when hard water stains build up?  Probably. But I’ll limit my exposure as much as possible. I’ll ventilate, wear gloves, use sparingly, and continue to search for substitutes

Manicures. Will this be the one that's hard to give up?
Try the nail buffer for an alternative to chemical polishes and glues. I use one and I love it.
Natural, healthy-looking, shiny nails can be sexy, too!   


Links That Help

My research unearthed numerous support sources. We are not alone! Here are some sites that will give you details and encouragement.

If you majored in chemistry, check the Wikipedia listing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endocrine_disruptor
If you’d like a quick overview specifying the dangers of endocrine disruptors and what you can do to avoid them, go to http://www.nrdc.org/health/effects/qendoc.asp
If you want a quick list to the dirty dozen endocrine disruptors check http://www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors
If you need a list of health ratings for common health and beauty products, the best one is http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
If you want concise recipes for making your own cleaning products, visit http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm
If you want to read what Glamour Magazine told women to do, read
If you are into making your own bath and beauty products (great as gifts!) you’ll find recipes here http://wellnessmama.com/5801/7-ingredients-20-diy-beauty-recipes/
If you like making your own air fresheners, try those at
http://www.designsponge.com/2012/11/small-measures-natural-room-spritz.html
If you want to know the post I like best for making diy air fresheners, it’s http://www.thankyourbody.com/homemade-air-freshener/
If you want to buy reed diffuser sticks, you can get them from Yankee Candle  http://www.yankeecandle.com/flameless/reed-diffuser/reed-sticks
And from Amazon
If you want to choose from a major list of quality essential oils, order from http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/index2.php

What's Your Story?   

In today’s world we can’t eliminate all the things that compromise our health, but we can certainly reduce our exposure to them. I’m renewing a pledge to myself to substitute real fragrances and fresh air for chemical derivatives. I hope you’ll join me. 

What will be the artificially scented product most difficult for you to give up? And how can you find an acceptable replacement?

Don't forget to order my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar. If you are selling a home, it will take you through the steps that make a difference!

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