Week of December 1, 2019




The Holidays are upon us and everywhere you go you are met with the mouth watering smells of pumpkin pie and apple Brown Betty—mostly not at home, but in the department stores or grocery shelves in the form pf perfumed candles, sprays and room fresheners.  Let’s not forget the tree shaped ornamental fresheners for your car that smells like a pine forest or the dryer sheets that smell like a ‘mountain breeze?” All good? Afraid all is not good. Most all of these products contain a cocktail of chemicals that are hazardous to our health, have lax rules regulating them, and have rarely been tested for use over time.  Regular candles are made from paraffin, which gasses off chemical just as any fuel does. Lead wicks, although banned in the US, are still found in candles that are imported from other countries. Such candles can release 5 times the amount considered hazardous for children. The fragrances also gas off toxic chemicals—a whole long list of them—all causing anywhere from mild headache to triggering asthma attacks, to disrupting hormones and even causing cancers.  The Environmental Working Group says that 75% of fragrances contain phthalates—a known endocrine disruptor. Dryer sheets, that make your clothes smell great and come out soft and fluffy, are actually rubbing off toxic chemicals onto your clothes and “scenting” the air with another long list (some similar to candles) into the air. Many irritate lungs, sting eyes, noses and throats, cause blood pressure and heart rate to rise and have been linked with cancer and thyroid irregularities.  The same goes for the car fresheners. The closed environment of the car makes the amount of inhaled chemicals higher and potentially more harmful. Companies that use fragrances do not have to point out the sources of these artificial odors. The Environmental Working Group tests and rates the level of danger for using these products—if you just are not ready to give them up yet.


 There are good alternatives for all of these products.  Some you can make yourself. You can purchase vegetable, soy, beeswax or coconut oil candles that are safer.  Watch out, however, because some companies mix paraffin in with the other waxes to cut costs. You can find some that are scented with essential oils. Read labels carefully and remember there are allergies to essential oils too.  If you just see fragrance by itself as an ingredient, it is bound to be the one containing unknown chemicals. You can purchase dryer balls that fluff your clothes (no scent) or you can add white vinegar to the rinse or make your own woolen dryer balls that can be lightly scented with essential oils.  For there car, you can place an open box of baking soda in the car, vacuum frequently and open a window. You could also cut out your own cardboard tree and dab it with essential oil (use very sparingly). Don’t let corporations be in charge of your product selection.  


EARTH STEWARD ACTION:  Decide to just say no to artificially scented paraffin candles, dryer sheets and car fresheners.


SOURCES:  https://www.preventdisease.com/news/13/081613_how_toxic_is_your_car-freshener , https://www.davidwolfe.com/7-reasons-stop-using-dryer-sheets , https://ewg.org/guide/search?page+1& , https://www.keeperofthehome.org/toxins-in-candles