We typically try to avoid plastics and chemicals in any products that we buy. For the most part this is pretty straightforward. This year, we have decided to try to eliminate a class of chemicals called phthalates from anything we consume. Phthalates are believed to be linked to cancer as well as endocrine system problems. So it makes sense to avoid these compounds whenever possible. But eliminating all phthalate-containing products from our home seems to be more of a challenge than we anticipated.
The word "fragrance" can sound fairly innocuous, even pleasant. But could fragrances found in common household products be harmful to you or your family? Many people are discovering that they are sensitive to the fragrances used in their laundry detergent, shampoo, or body lotions. Some people who find these fragrances on their skin, hair, and clothing develop allergic reactions to one or more chemicals used in these products. Others who are especially sensitive may even be bothered by the chemical fragrances on other people in close quarters, such as in an office or on public transportation.
Chemical sensitivity(sensitivities) are beginning to be taken seriously by many organizations, even major institutions such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). A June 2009 CDC indoor environmental quality policy encouraged its employees "to be as fragrance-free as possible" when they arrive at work: "Fragrance is not appropriate for a professional work environment, and the use of some products with fragrance may be detrimental to the health of workers with chemical sensitivities, allergies, asthma, and chronic headaches/migraines."