The Big Stink

*Gagging From Stinking Up with Artificial Fragrances*

Have you seen the endless TV ads for artificial fragrances, pushed on possibly unsuspecting consumers looking to cover a big stink of some sort ? One of my favorite ads shows a grandmother arrive for a visit, ignore the children and immediately fall into an ecstatic trance, sniffing Febreze scented air, tennis shoes and various fabrics.

We are inundated with toxic artificial fragrances in the form of odor neutralizers, plug-ins, aerosols, room fresheners, car air fresheners, fabric fresheners, perfumes, scented candles/oils, paraffin candles and garbage bags. Scented garbage bags are the pits. Some brands are kind enough to put “scented” on packaging, others are not so thoughtful. I opened a box of Glad bags and became nauseous immediately from a Febreze-like odor. Gag!!!!!!!!! Upon returning to the store I punched little holes just large enough to catch a whiff of the inner contents before purchasing more bags.

Why do we need so many kinds of artificial fragrances? Guess folks prefer cover-up to clean –up. It’s hard to imagine a stink bad enough to force one to reach for an artificial fragrance. Hopefully they aren’t used around infants and pets. It doesn’t really matter what the fragrance-peddlers say about the safety of petrochemicals and exotic toxins, we know better. Asthmatics claim attacks are most often triggered by artificial fragrances.

If you frequent 2nd hand clothing shops and don’t like the smell of Febreze – beware – sniff out the garment before purchase because the odor will not come out. It’s there for all eternity. And if you are a traveler with sensitivities to Febreze and other noxious odors, it’s a good idea to call ahead and ask questions.

Wafting Aromas: Ingredients

Artificial fragrances are composed of untold combinations of highly volatile petrochemical derivatives. The raw materials of perfumery are the solvents hexane and petroleum ether. According to a Natural Resource Defense Council sponsored test, 12 out of 14 air fresheners contain phthalates. These off-gassing chemicals are never listed as ingredients. They are claimed as proprietary secrets. Other chemicals found in a majority of air-freshners includes formaldehyde, (used as a preservative) benzene and naphthalene.

Perfumed garbage bags are created through a process that involves perfumed composites of ethylene and various co polymers such as vinyl acetate and ethyl acrylate which enable bags to retain fragrance for a year or more. Other types of perfumed objects are coated with polyurethane to sustain the release of various fragrances.

Procter and Gamble had to seek approval from the NYS Division of Solid and Hazardous Materials in order to register *Febreze Antimicrobial* because it contains Didecyl Dimethyl Ammonium Chloride. This product is used on fabrics to kill odor causing bacteria. Wow. Imagine some of that stuff up against your skin for 10 hours. The official letter from the Director of the Bureau of Pesticides Management states DDAC is a severe skin and eye irritant and goes on to say * “In the risk assessment conducted by the U.S.EPA, post-application dermal exposures were determined to pose unacceptable risks.” *Yet – the product was given the O.K. for production.

Over the holidays I almost gave a toxic gift of an evergreen infusion. It looked great with a graceful bamboo wicking system and it had a pleasant aroma. Interestingly enough it did not list one ingredient. I called the company and discovered ½ of the content was a “cosmetic preservative”. Most cosmetic preservatives are extremely toxic, including many of the innocent looking creams that have the various parabens in the ingredients. I use organic cosmetics that list all ingredients.


There are many alternatives including the placement of cotton balls scented with essential-oils or cooking flavors such as cinnamon, lemon around the home. You can google “organic, natural room fresheners” and find an assortment of products such as: Aura Cacia Air Freshener, California Scents Air Freshener , Aubrey Organics Blue Cypress Air Freshener, and Baby Ganics Air Freshner and Odor Eliminator.

You might want to check out an air sanitizer device that uses UV-C light technology: Germ Guardian Plug In Air Sanitizer. Smellkiller K 15006 Classic Air Cleanser is a clever odor removal technique that uses no electricity or fragrance.

Baking soda is a good odor absorber that might work wonders for the auto – instead of those horrible smelling doodads hanging from the rear view mirror.

Never has it been more important to know what you are putting into your personal environment. Take great precaution with everything that is not apparently organic and non-toxic. Look up exotic items such as medicines, supplements, pet medicine and products used in the service of the big stink.