Twenty Most Common Toxic Chemicals

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Study Results from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 1991.

Reference: Lance Wallace, EPA: Phone (703) 648-4287

Symptoms of exposure are taken from industry-generated material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). Compiled by Julie Kendall (1935-1997); distributed by EHN.

Definition of terms:

CNS: Refers to Central Nervous System, comprised of the brain and spine. CNS disorders include: Alzheimer’s Disease, Attention Deficit Disorder, Dementia, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

CNS exposure symptoms include: aphasia, blurred vision, disorientation, dizziness, headaches, hunger, memory loss, numbness in face, pain in neck and spine. Sensitizer: damaging to the immune system.

For an excellent website that provides an immediate understanding of the kind of toxic chemicals found in the systems of ordinary people, please paste in this url:

Principle chemicals found in commercial scents used in household products are:

ACETONE (cologne, dishwashing liquid and detergent, nail enamel remover) On EPA, RCRA, CERCLA Hazardous Waste lists: "Inhalation can cause dryness of the mouth and throat, dizziness, nausea, incoordination, slurred speech, drowsiness, and in severe exposure, coma." "Acts primarily as a CNS depressant."

BENZALDEHYDE (perfume, cologne, hairspray, laundry bleach, deodorants, detergent, Vaseline lotion, shaving cream, shampoos, bar soaps, dishwasher detergent) Narcotic and sensitizer. "Local anaesthetic. CNS depressant." "An irritation to the mouth, throat, eyes, skin, lungs, and GI tract causing nausea and abdominal pain." "May cause kidney damage." "Do not use with contact lenses."

BENZYL ACETATE (perfume, cologne, shampoo, fabric softener, stickup air freshener, dishwashing liquid and detergent, soaps, hairspray, bleach, after shave, deodorants) Carcinogenic (linked to pancreatic cancer); "From vapors; irritating to eyes and respiratory passages, causing cough." "In mice: hyperaemia of the lungs." "Can be absorbed through the skin causing systemic effects. Do not flush to sewer."

BENZYL ALCOHOL (perfume, cologne, soap, shampoo, nail enamel remover, air freshener, laundry bleach and detergent, Vaseline lotion, deodorants, fabric softener) "Irritating to the upper respiratory tract…causes headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drop in blood pressure, CNS depression, and death in severe cases due to respiratory failure."

CAMPHOR (perfume, shaving cream, nail enamel, fabric softener, dishwasher detergent, nail color, stickup air freshener) "Local irritant and CNS stimulant; readily absorbed through body tissues; causes irritation of eyes, nose and throat…dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles and convulsions. Avoid inhalation of vapors."

ETHANOL (perfume, hairspray, shampoo, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid and detergent, laundry detergent, shaving cream, soap, Vaseline lotion, air fresheners, nail color and remover, paint and varnish remover) On EPA Hazardous Waste list, symptoms include "fatigue, irritating to yees and upper respiratory tract even in low concentrations…Inhalation of ethanol vapors can have effects similar to those characteristic of ingestion. These include an initial stimulatory effect followed by drowsiness, impaired vision ataxia, stupor…causes CNS disorder."

ETHYL ACETATE (after shave, cologne, perfume, shampoo, nail color, nail enamel remover, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid) Narcotic and listed on EPA Hazardous Waste list; "irritating to the yes and respiratory tract...may cause headache and narcosis (stupor)…defatting effect on skin and may cause drying and cracking…may cause anemia with leukocytosis and damage to liver and kidneys. Wash thoroughly after handling."

LIMONENE (perfume, cologne, disinfectant spray, bar soap, shaving cream, deodorants, nail color and remover, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid, air fresheners, after shave, bleach , paint and varnish remover) Carcinogenic; "Prevents its contact with skin or eyes because it is an irritant and sensitizer…Always wash thoroughly after using this material and before eating, drinking…applying cosmetics. Do not inhale limonene vapor."

LINALOOL (perfume, cologne, car soap, shampoo, hand lotion, nail enamel remover, hairspray, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, Vaseline lotion, air fresheners, bleach powder, fabric softener, shaving cream, after shave, solid deodorant) Narcotic: " respiratory disturbances…Attracts bees…In animal tests caused ataxic gait, depression… reduced spontaneous motor activity…development of respiratory disturbances leading to death…depressed frog heart activity…Causes CNS disorders."

METHYLENE CHLORIDE (shampoo, cologne, paint and varnish remover) Banned by the FDA in 1988! No enforcement possible due to trade secret laws protecting chemical fragrance industry. On EPA, RCRA, CERCLA Hazardous Waste lists. Carcinogenic.

"Absorbed, stored in body fat, it metabolizes to carbon monoxide, reducing oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood…Headache, giddiness, stupor, irritability, fatigue, tingling in the limbs. Causes CNS disorder.

a-PINENE (bar and liquid soap, cologne, perfume, shaving crea, deodorants, dishwashing liquid, air freshener) Sensitizer, meaning damaging to the immune system.

g-TERPINENE (cologne, perfume, soap, shaving cream, deodorant, air freshener) "Causes asthma and CNS disorders."

a-TERPINEOL (perfume, cologne, laundry detergent, bleach powder, laundry bleach, fabric softener, stickup air fresheners, Vaseline lotion, cologne, soap, hairspray, after shave, roll-on deodorant) "Highly irritating to mucous membranes…Aspiration into the lungs can produce pneumonitis or even fatal edema…Can also cause excitement, ataxia (loss of muscular coordination), hypothermia, CNS and respiratory depression and headache. Prevent prolonged skin contact."

ALSO AVOID: Isopropyl Alcohol, DEA, MEA, TEA,Methyl and Poly Parabens, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Polyethylene Glycol, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Urea Hydantoin, Mineral Oil, FD & C Color, DMDM Hydantoin. For more information on this last list of products, see

If you have pets, children, or are in contact with those who have vulnerable immune systems, please avoid exposing them to the products listed above. Most commercial products for pets contain the dangerous chemicals listed above.

RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS: BioKleen Dish and Laundry Soaps, Crystal Deodorant, Aubrey shampoos and hair products, Palma Christi soap, Dr. Bronner soaps.

FOR YOUR PETS: See products developed by Pet Kiss Products at which, unlike most other products for pets, do not contain the chemicals listed above.


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