Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Non-Scents!" Elderly Girl Declares

Our Seductively Scented World Commits a Fragrant Foul
     Every morning, whether it’s hot and muggy or blizzarding snow, Elderly Girl goes jogging in the dark, while the whole world, it seems, is still sleeping.
    Once in awhile, as she is running blind along a residential street, she suddenly smells the odor of men’s cologne. Immediately, her blood runs cold. Any guy who’s skulking around out there is a little bit scary, but the ones who have perfumed themselves for the occasion seem particularly sinister.
    That is how Elderly Girl has come to view the chemical-fragrance industry: It’s hidden in the shadows, plotting its next assault on our bodies.
The endless onslaught of screaming scents is a sort of molestation.
    That guy out there in the dark has probably been fantasizing about this moment for months, imagining in exquisite detail how he will subdue you, torture and then kill you.
    If you were to read the trade journals of the chemical-fragrance industry -- which describe its many plots, its deliciously visualized scenarios of seduction, and its vainglorious ambitions to ravish the entire world -- you might see the parallels.
    Of course, the chemical guys don’t enjoy the part about torturing and killing -- unlike the dude in the dark who is licking his lips over the prospect -- but they know their science, and they know that the products that are making them rich are also making a lot of people ill and triggering conditions that can be fatal.
    Elderly Girl doesn’t refer to people as “molesters” lightly, but this industry is in fact molesting us all over, and she does mean ALL OVER.
Can't we go anywhere without being manhandled by manipulative perfumery?
    Hundreds of the chemicals they so blithely dump into our lives are banned in Europe and Canada, whose regulatory agencies have deemed them to be dangerous to public health i.e. they are carcinogenic, disrupt the immune and endocrine systems, and exacerbate pulmonary conditions such as asthma, allergies, COPD and reactive airway syndrome. That’s just for starters.
    The EU produced a report more than 15 years ago recognizing Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), which includes a wide range of symptoms, including those that are neurological, gastrointestinal, motor, visual and psychological.
    Our fine public servants in this country haven’t yet decided if MCS “is even a real phenomenon.”
   The U.S. and its so-called regulatory agencies are way behind both Europe and Canada in documenting, publicizing and restricting chemical fragrances.
    According to a Feb. 5, 2013 New York Times blog post: "The Environmental Working Group (E.W.G.) offers a database of more than 79,000 personal care products, from soap to lip plumper, ranked by level of hazard. These are produced with something like 10,500 different chemicals, and the industry acknowledges assessing under a fifth of those. Which leaves thousands about which even the industry is clueless." (
    In April 2013, the Times continued its coverage with an article that stated:
    "In its history, the E.P.A. has mandated safety testing for only a small percentage of the 85,000 industrial chemicals available for use today. And once chemicals are in use, the burden on the E.P.A. is so high that it has succeeded in banning or restricting only five substances, and often only in specific applications: polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxin, hexavalent chromium, asbestos and chlorofluorocarbons.
    Under the agency's Toxic Substances Control Act, "(it) can’t even require testing to determine whether a risk exists without first showing a risk is likely.”
     On April 20, the Times followed up with an editorial that concluded:
"Senators Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat of New Jersey, and Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat of New York, recently introduced a bill — the Safe Chemicals Act of 2013 — that would modernize and reform the law, mostly by requiring manufacturers to prove that a chemical is safe before it can be sold. It has more than two dozen Democratic co-sponsors but is opposed by the chemical industry and many Republicans, who argue that the E.P.A. already has enough power to regulate chemicals and simply needs to exercise it more effectively."  
    As one would expect, the American Chemistry Council, yet another money-bloated interest group that has an iron grip on our elected representatives, insists that any regulation of the unwieldy and incredibly callous industry risks raising costs, squelching innovation and putting American companies at a competitive disadvantage. There is very little hope for this weak and absurdly belated legislative gesture.
    As individuals, we are also way behind the rest of the developed world in educating ourselves and demanding that workplaces, gyms, schools, churches, retail outlets and other public places be free of harmful chemicals. There is little activism here, while others have really gotten busy. 
The industry has the upper hand (and the upper foot).
    The chemical-fragrance industry’s trade journals are full of references to the need for a “measured but vigorous” assault on any proposed legislation and the need for “carefully calibrated strategies” to evade regulation.
     It’s surely worked well for them here. The few legislative efforts to address the dangers their products pose have virtually been ignored by everyone involved. The industry continues essentially to have free reign, despite the fact that it is drenching the American public in demonstrably toxic chemicals, which they refer to as "aromas."
    These guys write about how deeply their products penetrate our lungs and our skin as if that were a GOOD THING.
Industrial aroma experts aim for deep penetration through the skin and nose.
    It is bit ironic that Elderly Girl has suddenly become so appalled by an aspect of life that formerly gave her such pleasure. She has always been very responsive to aromas, and the Bold New World of all-pervasive scents was a delight for quite a few years.
    In fact, she was one of those who really overdid the perfume thing, without realizing it at the time, and she is very sorry for the unpleasantness she created for those who worked in close proximity to her (especially you, Anne. I wish you had told me sooner. Please forgive me!)
   Her own body finally rebelled at the constant onslaught. Those wizards of industrial-scent development went way, way too far.
    She began to feel revolted just walking down the detergent aisle and the personal-care products aisle. They didn’t smell good -- they smelled like chemicals. They smelled bitter and poisonous. She could taste the dryer sheets on her palate.
    Everything was gaudily, tawdrily colored, like Kool-Aid. Shocking pink shampoo. Sickeningly sweet turquoise laundry liquid. All the flavors and scents, no matter what kind of product they were used in, were the same.
All this chemical crap has gotten as gaudy as Pee Wee's Playhouse. Not very classy!
     So the associations got all mixed up. She didn’t want to drink her lip gloss (Orange Crush, for example)  or wash herself in candy (cherry Lifesavers, for example) or condition her hair with air freshener (vanilla, lavender, you get the picture).
    This was getting too ridiculous. She didn’t want to eat her mango-tango sheets! And that made her not want the mango-tango Jello either! Her chewing gum started tasting like her body wash. Her facial cream smelled like some creamy dessert, with hints of marzipan and guava paste.
Pee Wee's house looks like KoolAid. Not very classy either!

(More than 18 months after this article was written, the New York Times described such luscious new products as fig-flavored body wash, birthday-cake bubble bath, pumpkin-spice exfoliators, licorice serum, grapefruit body scrub and chocolate-coffee exfoliator. What the hell does this say about our species, Elderly Girl wondered).
    Everywhere she went, she was plunged into a whole new “olfactory environment” that was designed to make her feel a certain way.
    But she stopped feeling all those certain ways and started feeling just plain sick and claustrophobic and victimized.
    As is her investigative wont, she began studying this phenomenon, and it made her feel even queasier than those peony-plum dryer sheets and the banana-daiquiri vacuum-cleaner bags and the secret garden shoe insoles.
    As chemical scent has billowed ever-more-pervasively through our world,  it was the particularly sensitive individuals -- those with asthma and allergies and chemical sensitivities -- who initially complained. Their physiology let them know, in no uncertain terms, that this stuff is toxic, it is caustic, it permeates us profoundly.
    In more recent years, even those without a preexisting condition have begun to sense that all of this olfactory “delight” that pours forth from retail outlets, from the workplace, and in our homes, is essentially air pollution.
    It is air pollution just as surely as the poison that comes out of your exhaust pipe or the coal-fired power plant. In fact, the perfumes that assail us from all sides are based in large part on petroleum derivatives.
    Fragrance is the new second-hand smoke, according to the National Toxic Encephalopathy Foundation.
    “The U.S. consumer is as uneducated about the dangers and health risks associated with constant exposure to synthetic fragrance products as the average non-smoker was to the risks of second-hand smoke 20 years ago,” the foundation asserts.
Chemical scents have well-documented systemic effects, and they aren't "uplifting."
     We live in a chemical world. Over 50,000 chemicals have entered daily use since World War II, many of them found in the products we use every day on our bodies, our clothes and in our homes.
    "Health can be snatched away in parts per billion," Nicholas Ashford and Claudia Miller write in their book “Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes.”
    A blue ribbon award-winning study illustrates the industry’s callous attitude toward the well-being of its consumers. Funded by the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials Inc., and presented at the Society of Toxicology (SOT) 50th Anniversary Annual Meeting & ToxExpo held in March 2011, it described “Modeling Vapor Uptake and Tissue Disposition in Human Lungs.”
     The model “was used to study the fate of fragrance vapors of different solubilities and reactivities in the tissue.”
    In other words, what happens when you inhale the crap they are enticing us to pour into our air?
    The study’s conclusions, especially since they were reached by the industry’s own scientists, are chilling:

    “Vapor with lower solubility such as acetaldehyde penetrates deep into the lung and is present in the alveolar tissues by a significant amount. There remains a residual concentration of vapor in the tissue at the end of a breathing cycle. Concentration continues to increase during subsequent breaths. Hence tissue accumulation of vapor occurs.”
You can exhale, but you can't breathe out the poisons.
    And they said it like this was a great achievement -- not an alarming public health hazard.
    Call Elderly Girl old-fashioned, but this shit gives her the creeps. They KNOW they are invading and damaging our bodies. They are not, as their advertising would suggest, just thoughtfully creating a “joyful, life-affirming environment.”
    They got their blue ribbon from the TOXICOLOGY people. Is that not a great big HINT about the nature of their business?
    The industry is very cavalier and clinical about what it is doing to us. These guys just want our money, and they’re willing to lure us into any Alpine Meadow or Cinnamon-Vanilla Pecan Wonderland to do so.
    Not to mention that their heartwarming fragrances are “modeled” at the molecular level in the laboratory, with particular psychological impacts in mind.
    But of course, they aren‘t content to mess around with the bodies and minds of those in Industrialized World. They are eyeing the developing world lustfully, noting that “already, people who could formerly afford to buy one piece of gum at a time can now afford a full pack"
    "And they are increasingly susceptible to messages that encourage them to enhance the appeal/cleanliness of their bodies and living spaces.”
Those who swelter in the favelas of Brazil would love some Orchid Mousse air freshener.
    (You notice they say ‘living spaces,’ because hundreds of millions of these people are living in makeshift hovels cobbled together from cardboard, tarps, woven mats and pieces of sheet metal. Luckily, not all of the industry’s ecstasy-inducing room fragrances are “plug-ins” that require an electrical outlet. The poorest people on Earth can be transported to Shangri-la while squatting in their oppressive  shacks. That is quite a gift, courtesy of the benevolent chemical industry.)
The industry wants you to SHUT UP and inhale its psychoactive vapors..
     “Our customers worldwide are demanding these products,” one chemical-fragrance executive told an American Chemical Society newsletter.
    Elderly Girl disagrees: We are demanding no such thing.
    The “need” and “desire” have been created by the callous marketing manipulations of the industry. We didn’t want Cherry Mischief or Magnum Force deodorants until they were shoved in our faces. We liked the mild, modest soapy scent of soap and detergent just fine.And they were WHITE, not neon green and purple.They weren't "flirty" or "exotic." They were serviceable, serious, effective products that left us feeling like people, not like walking bouquets.
    We didn’t ask for Kiwi Sunrise misters in our alarm clocks! We didn’t call and complain that our beds didn’t smell like the breezes atop Mount Kilimanjaro!  Our lives seemed clean, not some childishly colored, aggressively scented theme park constructed out of fruity gummy-bears candy and test-tube facsimiles of the glories of nature. We didn’t ask to live in Pee Wee Herman‘s Playhouse!
    We didn’t request homes that consisted of a revolving stage set that immersed us in one absurdly false scenario after another. We don’t live in alpine meadows, rain forests or pastry shops. And we’re OK with that.
They smash us all over, and then say we asked for it.
     That was YOUR idea, you mad chemists. How dare blame the victim? It seems like such a long time since our homes smelled like who we are and what we do. Maybe they’ll come up with a chemical representation of that: “Home Sweet Home, circa 1950.”
    Aggressive, alluring and psychologically astute marketing has made the industry’s fancy fragrances a pervasive part of our lives. The more you become aware of it, the harder it is to see a way out.
    We’ve had bra burnings and flag burnings, book burnings and flaming heaps of Dixie Chicks albums (those brave and brilliant young ladies stood their ground, and we love them for it).
    But we can’t very well have a chemical-fragrance burning to get rid of the stuff and to protest its very existence. Burning anything is bad for our air, but burning this putrid crap would first knock us down into terrible spasms, like nerve gas, and then it would immolate us in a grandly colored fireball, sort of like the Fourth of July or Afghanistan.
How can we dispose of all this stuff without committing environmental genocide?
    We need a whole new generation of toxic waste dumps for all this stuff. Elderly Girl was going to pour all her perfume down the toilet, but then she realized she might kill every fish and waterfowl in the entire Intermountain West. Not to mention those playful beavers! And the darling bighorn sheep and deer and rams!
    Our consumer culture has been so effective at encouraging women, including Elderly Girl (who normally is nobody’s fool) to use many chemically based cosmetics filled with hundreds of ingredients for which Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDA) say, “Do not inhale vapors,” or “Avoid contact with skin,” according to the National Institutes of Health.
Drowning in scents, with no lifeguard in sight.
     During the 1980s, the use of scented products soared. Perfumes went from special occasion use to daily wear. Functional products such as cleaners and laundry products were heavily scented, and advertising campaigns were based on how the product smelled (“Mountain Fresh!”).
   The sales of fragrance materials and chemicals doubled during the 1980s, as people came to expect scrumptiously aromatic elixirs with which to perform every task and to “turn your house into a home,” as the industry promised. For awhile, it all seemed quite festive.
   But that was long before some laudable reporters and expertly staffed advocacy groups began “smelling the rat” behind all those whiffs of paradise.
    Fragrances can enter the body through the nose by inhalation, the mouth by ingestion, or the skin by absorption.
    More than 5,000 fragrances are included in products such as health and beauty products, laundry aids, household cleaners, paper products, oils and solvents, drugs, paper products, plastics, industrial greases, and even foods.
   Each of those 5,000 fragrances contains 100 to 350 ingredients, selected from among more than 3,000 chemicals, according to the International Fragrance Research Association. They are not required to be listed on labels as anything but “fragrance,” thanks to our lobbyist-influenced Trade Secrets Act.
    The effects of all these chemicals on our bodies are cumulative. It is our children, who were born into this chemical stew -- with residues of cleaning and cosmetic products already in their bloodstreams -- who will suffer the most.
Leave our babies alone, you perverted, money-mad chemists!
   Over the past 50 years, 80-90 percent of fragrances have been synthesized from petroleum. Some of the most commonly found harmful chemicals in fragranced products include acetone, phenol, toluene, benzyl acetate, and limonene.
    In an Environmental Protection Agency survey of dozens of popular perfumes, 100 percent of them contained toluene. 
    “Toluene may cause genetic mutations and damage the developing fetus. Handle with extreme caution.  Repeated exposure can damage bone marrow, liver and kidneys, can cause slowed reflexes, difficulty concentrating, and headaches, including migraines,” its report concluded.
Damaged fetus. Need we say more?
    Methylene chloride, a known carcinogen and cause of autoimmune disease, was banned for use in all cosmetics in 1989.  Even so, it was one of the 20 most common chemicals found in fragrance products in an EPA study five years later.
    Diethyl phthalate, which is used to make scents last longer, is a reproductive toxin, according to HAZ-Map: Occupational Exposure of Hazardous Substances of the National Library of Medicine of the United States.
    A 2008 analysis of six top-selling laundry products and air fresheners found “nearly 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were emitted from the products, and five of the six emitted one or more carcinogenic air pollutants which the Environmental Protection Agency considers to have no safe exposure level.”
    Congress charged the EPA in 1996 with setting up a program to screen for endocrine-disrupting chemicals. The Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program has been created, but by 2010 the EPA had still not tested any chemicals for their endocrine-disrupting effects.
Chemical fragrances are endocrine disruptors.
     Why not? Because this is a regulatory agency of the U.S. government. It’s typical behavior.
    In December 2009, a bill was introduced in Congress to establish better interagency research on endocrine-disrupting chemicals -- the Endocrine Disruption Prevention Act of 2009, which the Endocrine Society fully supported. This proposed legislation was referred to the Subcommittee on Health by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
    And there it remains. According to the House’s web site, it hasn’t even been discussed after all this time.
    A new bill could “alter the landscape of chemical regulation” in the United States by empowering researchers to take swift action against the most potentially harmful chemicals in use today.
    First, of course, it would have to somehow have a different trajectory than the earlier and very similar proposal. I don’t know of any reason to expect that it will. And the one that did pass has had no effect, thanks to the total inaction of the EPA.
    The Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Exposure Elimination Act of 2011 was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts on July 13 of this year, and is pending introduction in the House of Representatives by Congressman Jim Moran of Northern Virginia.
    It would give the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and a panel of experts selected by the director, the power to ban up to 10 chemicals from commerce each year by categorizing them as being of high concern.
    Those chemicals would become unlawful to use 24 months after receiving that designation.
Studies say women use hundreds of chemicals on their bodies daily.
    (Ten chemicals a year? After a two-year grace period? They’ve got to be kidding! We’re dealing with thousands of toxic substances that need expeditious scrutiny. The industry already has the documentation about the impact of many of these synthetic scents on our bodies and the environment. Much can be inferred about their general threat to public health from the known effects of chemicals in the same or similar classes. This information should be subpoenaed and acted upon NOW, not over a period of decades.)
    The Food and Drug Administration receives basic descriptive data from industry for an average of 75 new, man-made chemicals per day. It is almost impossible to imagine how this flood of additional, novel and untested chemicals is affecting our bodies and our planet.
     Most fragrances are now 97 percent synthetic. Some 84 percent  of their ingredients have never been tested by the government for human toxicity. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, a common, and apparently acceptable, statement on vast numbers of Material Safety Data Sheets that the fragrance industry submits is, “THE CHEMICAL, PHYSICAL, AND TOXICOLOGICAL PROPERTIES HAVE NOT BEEN THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATED.” This, despite the fact that the Toxic Substances Control Act gave to the manufacturers the responsibility to test chemical substances for their toxicity.
    The industry’s disclaimer was cleverly devised by analysts and lobbyists to evade regulatory scrutiny and lazily accepted by bureaucrats who would rather rubber-stamp a document and put it in the file than to “create a stir” by demanding data.
   Dr. James Miller, of the American Academy of Environmental Physicians has stated, “Chemicals do their damage to our systems one molecule at a time.”
    Fragrances are volatile compounds that remain suspended in the air for long periods and contribute significantly to indoor air pollution. They also contain penetration enhancers to drive ingredients deeper into the skin, according to the Environmental Working Group.
    Scientists are increasingly concerned that long-term low-level exposures to chemicals create a variety of health risks. They also worry that we do not yet know the impact of living with the cocktail of chemicals found in household air and dust. 
    The human olfactory system, which starts with the nose, is large and located very close to key parts of the brain, according to Dr. Tyler Lorig, a professor of neurological Psychology at Washington and Lee University.
    “Pathways of the olfactory tract reach directly to the amygdala, hypothalamus, prepiriform cortex of the brain, which are involved in emotion, arousal and memory,” he writes.
   Research by Dr. Iris Bell, a professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Arizona’s School of Integrative Medicine, indicates that there can be a direct effect on the limbic system, which controls emotion and behavior, by chemicals that enter the nose-olfactory system.
    It was just reported during the week of Sept. 10, 2011, that the nose and brain are so organically connected that the most promising new experimental treatment for Alzheimer's disease is a nasal spray, which will deliver insulin directly to key neurological sites.
   Only three synapses separate the olfactory nerve from the hippocampus, which is implicated in memory, especially working memory and short-term memory, according to neuroscientists at Macalester College.
The olfactory nerve goes straight into both complex and primal brain centers.
    These esteemed researchers make it clear that the chemical-fragrance issue has profound psychological as well as physical implications. The possibility that such effects could be used for manipulation is obvious.
    Chemical irritants in fragrance can initiate a sensitizing process within an individual’s immune system, which poses a number of threats, including autoimmune disorders.
    There are now some 80 recognized autoimmune diseases -- that have dramatically increased in incidence, along with autism -- which may also be triggered by environmental toxins.
   Indeed, some researchers speculate that Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is an immune response similar to allergies. OSHA adds that there are psychological and neurobiological theories as well.
     MCS is only gradually becoming recognized as a bona fide syndrome in this country (despite many years of acceptance elsewhere), one that likely affects millions of people to some extent.
Is this what it's coming to?
    The symptoms people report are wide-ranging. They include headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, congestion, itching, sneezing, sore throat, chest pain, changes in heart rhythm, breathing problems, muscle pain or stiffness, skin rash, gastrointestinal discomfort, confusion, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and mood changes. Behavior and learning ability can also be affected .
    Most safety claims by industry are unregulated, and companies are rarely if ever required to back them up, even for children’s products. A company can use a claim like “hypoallergenic” or “natural” “to mean anything or nothing at all,” and while “[m]ost of the terms have considerable market value in promoting cosmetic products to consumers,… dermatologists say they have very little medical meaning,” according to the FDA.
    An investigation by the Environmental Working Group of more than 1,700 children’s body care products found that 81 percent of those marked “gentle” or “hypoallergenic” contained allergens or skin and eye irritants .
    Products labeled “organic” or “natural” can contain petrochemicals and no certified organic or natural ingredients whatsoever. Products certified as organic can contain as little as 10 percent organic ingredients by weight or volume.
    So why doesn’t the FDA do something about the health implications? Why doesn’t the FTC do something about the deceptive advertising?
    Neither agency has done anything with the appropriate vigor or integrity in decades, if ever. They are both a disgrace.
    Who knows what they’re doing?
     The FDA says it has no plans to establish a definition of the term “natural” in the foreseeable future, saying it has “other priorities for its limited resources.”
     To make the whole issue even more daunting, environmental fragrance is being expanded to include fragrance that is automatically dispersed in the ductwork of  heating, ventilation, and cooling systems at work, at home and in your car. Emerging technology will enable computers to emit a scent.
    The industry claims it is merely fulfilling a “burgeoning demand for olfactory stimulation” because the public appreciates the role of odor in influencing emotional state and well-being.
    “Scents can enhance mood, promote optimism and self-esteem, relax or stimulate, aid the recall of personal memories, and facilitate creative thinking,” an industry web site declares.
    The introduction of an orange odor into a dentist’s office, for example, “reduced anxiety and improved mood in female patients,” it reports.
    The industry also cites studies which find that odors “influence subjects’ preferences for people, objects, and places across many situations and social interactions.”
    They are taking notes on us, as if we were lab rats getting hits of cocaine or deep-fried Twinkies. They are learning exactly what makes us tick. And we’re letting them!
    Aromachology is a newly developing and rather scary science in which the effect of odors on behavior is scientifically measured through carefully controlled experiments. Developed in 1982 by the Olfactory Research Fund, aromachology (as distinguished from aromatherapy) was designed "to scientifically study the interrelationship of psychology and fragrance technology" by analyzing the emotions produced when odors activate the olfactory pathways that lead to the limbic system of the brain. In this region, odors initiate the release of neurotransmitters, which can affect the brain and mental state of an individual in a variety of ways, according to the group.
Aromas affect the secretion of neurotransmitters.
    “Obviously, chemistry is not just about Pharma and petroleum. There are other areas out there that are fun and rewarding, too," says Roman Kaiser, a distinguished research fellow and director of natural scents at the giant global fragrance firm Givaudan, which works with more than 200 synthetic, “patented specialty ingredients” and 40 base scents to form “the building blocks from which our perfumers, and the industry beyond, create distinctive, performing fragrances.
     The size and scope of the industry are virtually impossible to assess, precisely because of the large number of chemicals involved in a highly complex web of international trading. The latest data indicate that the worldwide flavor and fragrance business is valued at almost $25 billion annually.
    Soaps and detergents account for 34.3 percent;  cosmetics and toiletries, 24.5 percent; fine fragrances, 21.2 percent; household products, 15.0 percent; and others (candles, insecticides, aromatherapy, etc.), 5.0%
    “Fragrances play on emotions, and perfumers can indulge flights of fancy.” according to Chemical and Engineering News.
    Scents used in the appropriate settings can sway your purchasing interest and your perception of the quality of a product, says Rachel Herz, Ph.D., writing in Psychology Today earlier this year. “Odors can also be used to influence your generosity, trustworthiness and political leanings,” she adds.
    International Flavors and Fragrances, which  has sales, manufacturing and “creative facilities” in 33 countries, is one of the most ambitious and aggressive firms in the race to perfume the Planet.
    For personal care products, fabric, perfume and home care, its Aromascience™ uses the “mood-evoking benefits of fragrance to promote a sense of well-being.
    “With the help of our trend experts, we work closely with our clients to create the next generation of fragrances, with both global reach and local appeal,” it declares.
Oh, the euphoria that is created by chemical-filled air!
    With perfumers and fragrance evaluators -- as well as marketing, consumer insight, and technical application experts -- working in "Centers of Excellence" in all key regions, “IFF  teams work tirelessly, interpreting trends, monitoring product launches, analyzing quantitative market data, and conducting over 400,000 annual consumer interviews,” the firm‘s promotional materials state.
    “IFF’s sensory experts direct research programs exploring topics such as fragrance performance, the psychophysics of sensory perception (including chemesthetic properties such as warming, cooling, and tingling), the genetic basis for flavor and fragrance preference, and the effects of aromas on mood, performance, health, and well-being.
    “Consumers continually seek out new and better ways to create a particular ambiance in their homes through fragrance, and they constantly change those fragrances based on season, interior design, and mood,” the firm’s promotional materials state.
    IFF is proud of its “fashionable fruits and florals for washing dishes.”
    It proudly proclaims, “It’s not just lemon anymore.”
With today's thrilling array of dish-washing scents, this 'chore' is a joy.
     Now you can choose from among these lovely dishwashing chemical fragrances (have fun!):
    Lemon (Citral, Citronellal), Orange (Mandarin Oil, Decyl acetate) Carnation (Phenethyl salicylate), Gardenia (Nonyl acetate), Geranium (Citronellol), Lilac (Anisyl acetate), Lily (hydroxycitronellal), Rose (Rose
absolute), Violet (Costus Oil, Methyl-2-nonenoate) Apple (Benzyl acetate), Apricot (Allyl butyrate), Banana (Amyl acetate), Grape (Isobutyl isobutyrate), Peach (Allyl butyrate), Strawberry (Benzyl benzoate) Clove (Eugenyl acetate), Minty (l-carveol, l-Carvone, l-Menthol), Anise (Ethyl acetate, Methyl sorbate), Cinnamon (Cinnamaldehyde), Honey (Allyl phenoxyacetate), Sweet (Acetanisole), Vanilla (Anisyl acetate).
    For household cleaners as well, “fun colors and fragrances drive the market,” IFF says.
    The firm’s “ongoing study through consumer panels, focus groups, benchmarking studies, and qualitative research provides us with a global understanding of the fragrances consumers prefer in everything from candles and electric air fresheners to all-purpose cleaners and dishwashing liquids. ..We harness the power of the Internet to conduct groundbreaking research in consumers' homes — gathering data on in-home use experience, consumer habits, and attitudes.”
    The previously mentioned fragrance mega-firm, Givaudan, has developed models for odor types -- or "notes" -- by using molecular modeling software.
    “Working from known compounds with the characteristic fragrance note, the software generates a three-dimensional model of the common structural features. New structures are juxtaposed onto the model to create new scents,” according to Chemical and Engineering News.
    The Dübendorf, Switzerland firm  is well known for its fragrance-hunting expeditions, led by Roman Kaiser.
Roman Kaiser is renowned for finding new scents to transform into synthetic chemicals.
     Called ScentTrek, these expeditions have taken Kaiser and others to the tropical rain forests of French Guyana, Gabon, Madagascar, South Africa, and Papua New Guinea, where they search for new "fragrance concepts."
    "It's important to have a big collection, because trends change and you have to be ready to give perfumers building blocks for new creations as quickly as possible," Kaiser explains.
    Compounds that behave in a certain way to impart a particular effect are another target of discovery. For example, Givaudan has designed odorless compounds that when exposed to sunlight react to produce odorants. They are used to give a pleasant scent to freshly dried laundry, says George Fráter, head of Givaudan's research center.
    (And all this time, we thought it really was the sunshine! This is quite unsettling.)
    A case study on synthetic vanilla scent is instructive in the ways and means of the industry. Extract from vanilla beans is very expensive. In the U.S., products containing synthetic vanillin cannot claim to be "all-natural." However, vanillin created through the fermentation of corn cobs and other non-vanilla life forms is considered natural.
    “Biomass pre-cultivated….by hydrolysis of corn cob was able to effectively convert ferulic and p-coumaric acids to a mixture of vanillin, vanillic acid and vanillyl alcohol provided with the typical vanilla flavor,” according to the article “Vanillin bioproduction from alkaline hydrolyzate of corn cob by Escherichia coli” in the journal Enzyme and Microbial Technology.
    This is typical of the industry’s successful strategies to tell us it’s one thing when it most assuredly is not.
    Rhovanil Natural, a fermented “vanilla,” meets both European and U.S. rules for classification as a natural flavor, says Susan MacDonald, market and innovation director for Rhodia's flavor and fragrance ingredients.
    Priced at about $700 per kg, Rhovanil Natural enables the formulation of “natural” vanilla flavoring (no vanilla beans were harmed in the making of this vanilla “extract”) at a lower price, Meric says. Natural extracts from vanilla beans cost around $1,800 per kg. Synthetic vanillin costs $15 per kg.
    "Vanilla is so important, because sweet tastes reduce pain by activating opioid systems in the brain, and the odor comes to activate the same systems," says Australian psychologist John Prescott, currently a visiting scholar at Oxford University.
Real vanilla is just too costly for a profit-driven industry.
    Rhodia has gone to great lengths to establish the safety of two of its other big money makers -- benzyl salicylate and coumarin, MacDonald says, adding that its efforts are of “great service to the industry.”
    The two compounds are key raw materials. Neither one can be easily substituted.
    Benzyl salicylate is an important perfume ingredient, sometimes making up to 60 percent of the volume of a formulation, MacDonald says. It is used to "round off" a fragrance, so that what one smells is a unified scent rather than individual odor components, she explains.
    Rhodia is committed to ensuring that the industry is not forced to do without benzyl salicylate, although it has repeatedly been shown to trigger an array of allergic reactions.
    Coumarin smells like freshly mown hay. Any fragrance that smells herbaceous usually contains it. "Coumarin had been suspected to cause cancer, and we spent a lot of money proving it is not carcinogenic," MacDonald says.
    "We had cleared its name when all of a sudden it appeared on a list of suspected allergens. So we started again, to prove that it does not cause allergic reactions."
Fragrance firms say "screw you" to the environment.
     Increasingly, the industry has to deal with environmental and health issues and regulations. Its manufacturing processes -- which generate “effluents” that need to be disposed of properly to protect waterways -- as well as its products, are under fire in Europe. One possible solution is to move production to China, where effluents can more easily escape regulation.
    "A fantastically powerful compound--one that can satisfy global demand in kilogram quantities rather than ton quantities--can address many of those problems," Givudan’s Fráter says. Low volume means less impact on health and the environment and simpler registration, he explains.
    The chemical-fragrance industry continues to devise new ways in which its products can be marketed.
    Scent-infused fabric (infused with deodorant, moisturizer and other agents as well) for clothing, upholstery, curtains and carpeting are almost “market-ready,“ according to the National Textiles Association.
    “Initial evaluation of the emergent technology will focus on user preferences for fragrance type and stimulus strength, using traditional psychophysical evaluations of hedonics and intensity. Product-scent associations will be measured and judged for congruence or “goodness of fit,” according to the association‘s newsletter.
    So your next sundress may have psychophysical and hedonic allure as well as being DARN CUTE!
     Eastman Chemical, which produces hundreds of solvents, fixatives, chemical intermediates for the fragrance industry, is chillingly irresponsible in its denial of any liability for damage inflicted by its products.
    “It is the responsibility of the cosmetics or fragrance formulator to determine the safety (of the ingredients it buys from Eastman)….and compliance with U.S. laws. Materials safety data sheets are available, providing precautions on the handling and storing of Eastman products. Eastman takes no responsibility for the protection of the environment, of your employees or your consumers related to the use of its products.”
   The American public has barely begun to be aware of the dangers of chemical fragrances, even as it becomes harder to escape them.
Leave me alone -- I can't stand it anymore!
    The Fragranced Products Information Network was started in 1997 as a grassroots effort to provide information and education on the dangers of our highly scented world. 
    “The movement against fragrance is in its infancy and may take as many years as the passive smoking movement did to gain momentum, but there are several key differences that suggest the fragrance-free movement will gain a quicker hold and garner more attention than did passive smoking,” the group states. “The most significant difference is the presence of the Internet. People who have Multiple Chemical Sensitivities or problems with fragrance can find thousands of other people who share the same ailment with a few keystrokes.”
     There is already an Environmental Sensitivities Research Institute made up of numerous activist organizations.
    The chemical firms are feeling beleaguered, and their journals, seminars and web sites now mention the increasing pressure from the public and the media to make kindler, gentler products.
    The Americans with Disabilities Act was used successfully to ban smoking in businesses and places of public accommodation, and it has also been effective in promoting fragrance-free workplaces. (Although it doesn’t seem that one should need to prove a “disability” resulting from fragrance to get a fragrance-free policy implemented, it has proven to be the most expeditious route so far.)
     There are so many people with asthma, COPD, allergies and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, that the law is broadly applicable in the workplace.
    The Federal Workers’ Compensation Act is also invoked by those seeking a more pristine workplace. Workers compensation claims related to indoor air quality, MCS, and fragrance have been skyrocketing  the past 10 years, according to the agency.
Workers are mobilizing -- politely at first -- to protect themselves from chemical scents.
     A third law that has implications for employers and synthetic fragrance sensitivity is the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA).  Fragrances that were thought to have pleasant or neutral effects on health are now acknowledged as either hazardous or potentially hazardous.
    Earlier this year, Porland, Oregon, city leaders unanimously passed a new policy attempting to limit  personal scented products in the work-place, saying such products can irritate some people's allergies or asthma. The new policy “discourages” perfume, aftershave, cologne and the use of strongly scented powder, deodorant and other personal hygiene products.
    Last spring, the City of Detroit was ordered to enact a new policy on fragrances, following a lawsuit by employee Susan McBride.
    McBride issued a complaint requesting her superiors take action regarding a co-worker's perfume. McBride claimed the smell made it difficult for her to breathe.
One woman's perfume is another woman's poison.
     When managers did nothing to address the situation, McBride sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act and won. She was awarded $100,000, and the city agreed to adopt a fragrance-free policy.
   Kaiser Permanente has adopted a Fragrance-free Workplace Policy “to help promote a healthier and more enjoyable work place. “Fragrances are any product which produces a scent, strong enough to be perceptible by others, including but not limited to colognes, perfumes, after shave products, lotions, powders, deodorants, hair sprays and other hair products, and other personal products,” the policy says.
    There is a growing movement in California to limit the use of scented products in public places, and several institutions have banned them, including the American Council on Education, Challenge Charter School in Phoenix, Evergreen State College in Washington, the public school system in Fargo, S.D., Seattle Colleges and Community Colleges, and the University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing.

    The federal Centers for Disease Control states flatly what many in the movement believe:  Fragrance is not appropriate in the workplace.
    The CDC’s policy outlaws building conditions that have the potential to adversely impact the health of building occupants, including  chemicals, biological agents and fragrance products.
    The agency also vows to ensure that products used in the workplace, such as soaps, cleaning products, paints, etc. are safe and odor-free or emit low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to the fullest extent feasible. This is another concern of activists: The chemicals used in janitorial cleaning supplies, some for functional reasons, others to “perfume” the workplace with pine, lemon or lavender scent, are as harmful as those used by employees.
    The workplace is of particular concern because people are required to be there, and offices have increasingly been invaded by a complex cloud of all the perfumes, deodorants, lotions, hair-care products and cosmetics used by its employees, as well as the cleaning supplies that keep everything “smelling clean.”
The air in there is a toxic stew that is inciting  increased activism.
     All of these products produce volatile organic compounds, which means that they remain suspended in the air for extended periods. So even if our buildings themselves aren’t “sick” from the various materials used to construct and decorate them, the air is almost certainly polluted to an extent that would be clinically regarded as unhealthy, causing both short- and long-term problems.
    As is so often the case, Canada and Europe are way ahead of the U.S. in adopting enlightened policies and in enforcing laws prohibiting industry from using unsafe chemicals.
    The Canadian Lung Association recommends the following steps to improve your workplace environment:
    *Post a "Scent-free building" sign at your work as a reminder.
    *Encourage all employees to use scent-free products.
    *Purchase scent-free products for use in the workplace, including janitorial supplies.
    It also recommends that a survey be done to determine which building materials, insulation, paints, varnishes and solvents are producing emissions and that they be replaced or remedied. Ventilation is cited as a helpful but rarely used means to address indoor pollution.
   Unfortunately, products labeled "unscented" are not necessarily fragrance-free -- in fact, they rarely are. A masking agent -- a neutralizing chemical fragrance -- can be used to obscure the product’s inherently unpleasant scent, and the product can still be marketed as “unscented.”
    In Canada, fragrance companies and associations responded to the public uproar by changing their marketing strategies and creating pamphlets instructing people on how to wear scent. The Canadian Cosmetics, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association developed such a pamphlet in 1999 titled, “Enjoying Your Fragrance.”
    Some people argue with the notion that there is a proper, correct, and safe way to wear perfume.
    But those who practice the “magic” of perfumery -- and who are proud of the beauty they conjure from natural aromatic oils, herbs, flowers, etc. -- fear that the hostility toward scent that has been incited by corporate chemical fragrance manufacturers will imperil their work. They regard what they do as a bona fide art form, and their perspective seems worthy of respect.
Perfume artisans who use natural ingredients defend their craft.
    Michelyn Camen, editor of the Cafleurbon blog and a “Fragrance Curator,” wrote last year: “Our fragrant future is at stake. We are living in the 21st century, where open office environments and anti-fragrance activists may turn our love of perfumery into a crime.
    “There may be a time, in the near future, where we will become actual olfactive offenders; huddled in our apartments or homes, or standing out in the freezing cold just to wear our favorite fragrance.
    “Can wearing your beloved fine fragrance be the last ‘PC’ prejudice?”
    Her passion for the beauty and pleasure of scent makes one step back from any all-inclusive anti-fragrance rant and remember the intimate pleasure of a favorite perfume, sparingly applied.
   It is her goal, she writes, “to create a ‘scented salon,’ where natural and traditional perfumers and owners of fragrance companies, poets, chefs, painters, students, writers, bloggers, posters, dancers, and retailers can gather and share their thoughts about the world of the fifth sense -- without politics but with one important collective understanding: we must embrace and support the art of fine fragrance in the 21st century.”

ON AN UNRELATED, YET REALLY KIND OF RELATED NOTE: The New York Times repots on a new study (, in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives that might make you want to give up lipstick (and other cosmetics) as well as fragrance. 
    "The scientists found traces of cadmium, cobalt, aluminum, titanium, manganese, chromium, copper and nickel in 24 lip glosses and eight lipstick brands. They picked the products because they were favored by teenagers at a community health center in Oakland, Calif. The girls reported reapplying lipsticks or glosses as often as 24 times a day."
    Aluminum, chromium and manganese registered the highest concentrations over all, Dr. Hammond and her colleagues found. The average concentration of aluminum in the lip products, for instance, topped 5,000 p.p.m.; concentrations of lead averaged 0.359 p.p.m."
    Some metals are undoubtedly absorbed through mucosal tissues in the mouth..... And people do swallow lipstick, one reason that it’s so often cautious about how often you reapply that shimmering color. Given the uncertainties, two or three times a day is all that beauty can reasonably demand."

Have you heard the news? Elderly Girl has defended your freedom by seducing Mitt Romney and ending his campaign!

Part One of this post can be found at:

Elderly Girl Turns Getting Old into a Sexy New Fad

DOES THE MADNESS NEVER END? Now Elderly Girl has shaved her head. Oprah got totally choked up. She said Elderly Girl  had the most fabulous hair on the planet (Ellen agreed).

BECOME ENLIGHTENED ABOUT YOUR GYNE-LOGIC with a riveting rant by Elderly Girl.

Febreze, a product originally conceived as a revolutionary way to destroy odors, didn't do well in the marketplace. It was re-branded as an "air freshener" to provide one final gesture of housewifely thoughtfulness to rooms that had just been thoroughly cleaned.  The Febreze revamp occurred in the summer of 1998. Within two months, sales doubled. A year later, the product brought in $230 million. Since then Febreze has spawned dozens of spinoffs — air fresheners, candles and laundry detergents — that now account for sales of more than $1 billion a year. Eventually, P.& G. began mentioning to customers that, in addition to smelling fresh, Febreze can actually kill bad odors. Today it’s one of the top-selling products in the world.