Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Think about it- If you use these products, you are absorbing the following chemicals through your skin (our biggest organ) via your clothes, bedding, towels...constantly. And so are your children and pets.

Chemicals Found in Fabric Softeners/Dryer Sheets

Chemicals found in fabric softeners by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "Identification of Polar Volatile Organic Compounds in Consumer Products and Common Microenvironments," 1991 Reference: Lance Wallace, EPA. Phone (703) 341-7509

Alpha-Terpineol - Causes CNS (central nervous system) disorders... "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 repeated or prolonged skin contact."
Benzyl Acetate - Carconigenic (linked to pancreatic cancer). "From vapors: irritating to eyes and respiratory passages, exciting cough." "In mice: hyperanemia of the lungs." "Can be absorbed through the skin causing systemic effects." "Do not flush to sewer."
Benzyl Alcohol - Causes CNS disorders ..."irritating to the upper respiratory tract" ..."headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drop in blood pressure, CNS depression, and death in severe cases due to respiratory failure."
Camphor - Causes CNS disorders. On EPA's Hazardous Waste list. Symptoms: "local irritant and CNS stimulant" ..."readily absorbed through body tissues" ..."irritation of eyes, nose, and throat" ..."dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles and convulsions". "Avoid inhalation of vapors."
Chloroform - Neurotoxic. Anesthetic. Carcinogenic. On EPA's Hazardous Waste list. "Avoid contact with eyes, skin, clothing. Do not breathe vapors ...Inhalation of vapors may cause headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, irritation of respiratory tract and loss of consciousness." "Inhalation can be fatal." "Chronic effects of overexposure may include kidney and/or liver damage." "Medical conditions generally aggravated by exposure: kidney disorders, liver disorders, heart disorders, skin disorders." "Conditions to avoid: Heat..." Listed on California's Proposition 65.
Ethyl Acetate - Narcotic. On EPA's Hazardous Waste list. "...Irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract" ..."may cause headache and narcosis (stupor)" ..."may cause anemia with leukocytosis and damage to liver and kidneys". "Wash thoroughly after handling."
Limonene - Carcinogenic. "Prevent 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 - Narcotic. Causes CNS disorders. ..."Respiratory disturbances" ..."Attracts bees." "In animal tests: ataxic gait, reduced spontaneous motor activity and depression ...depressed heart activity ...development of respiratory disturbances leading to death."
Pentane - "Danger - Harmful if inhaled ...Avoid breathing vapor." "Inhalation of vapors may cause headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, irritation of respiratory tract and loss of consciousness. Repeated inhalation of vapors may cause CNS depression. Contact can cause eye irritation. Prolonged exposure may cause dermatitis (skin rash)."
CNS = Central Nervous System - Your brain and spine. CNS disorders include: Alzheimer's Disease, Attention Deficit Disorder, Dementia, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, Seizures, Strokes, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
CNS exposure symptoms include: aphasia, blurred vision, disorientation, dizziness, headaches, hunger, memory loss, numbness in face, pain in neck and spine.


Anonymous said...

I stopped using them awhile back. I've been using "dryer balls" instead!

Shiloh said...

This is an important subject that gets very little coverage. Thanx for bringing it to our attention.

Brew City Tails said...

I've switched to using vinegar as a fabric softener and, in some loads, Seventh Generation fabric softener liquid. I'll have to check the list of ingredients though. I want to trust the 7th Gen name... but the more in tune with this stuff people are, the sneakier some of the manufacturers seem to get.

Nadine M. Rosin/ author, speaker, holistic pet care advocate said...

I understand you point completely, BCT! You are very wise- one should never make assumptions when it comes to ingredients. Thank you for making that important point.

laymen said...

good infor. eye opener.

Natasha said...

This list is misleading, and demonstrates a fundamental lack of knowledge in chemistry. As a certified aromatherapist, as well as in my 4th year pursuing my bachelor of science, I can say that you can find ANY chemical in the material data and safety sheet, with similar warnings. Highly irritating to mucous membranes? So are onions.

In fact, MOST of the ingredients on this list are NATURAL INGREDIENTS! Alpha-terpineol and the other monoterpines are what gives tea tree and other plant oils their antibacterial and antifungal properties. In fact, my spring research project was distilling essential oil from nutmeg and testing it's antibacterial properties. Part of that project was identifying the quantity of monoterpines (including alpha-terpineol) in the oil using a GCMS. Similarly, camphor and limonene are common (and major components) in plant oils (camphors make your eucalyptus oil so decongesting!)Benzyl acetate and benzyl alcohol are major components (NATURAL components) in flowers, fruits, and teas! If you've ever smelled a hyacinth, you've exposed yourself, or drank a jasmine tea, you've ingested benzyl acetate and benzyl alcohol!

I don't use dryer sheets either - for one, I can't stand synthetic fragrance. But I think it is important to have perspective on the chemicals in our lives. If the dryer sheets had said "tea tree" instead of alpha-terpineol, and "jasmine essential oil" instead of benzyl acetate, I think most people would not have been bothered, or maybe even pleased at the 'natural' ingredient. However, alpha-terpineol and benzyl acetate would still be present, because it is a major component of the plants.

And knowing the process involved in determining components (usually through GCMS), I can't help but wonder if the ethyl acetate and pentane are contaminants from the solvent used to dissolve the dryer sheet chemicals (in order to inject them into the GCMS.) Both are highly volatile (it evaporates) which is why I think it is unlikely that you would be exposed to it on a dryer sheet (the heat of your dryer would evaporate both the pentane and the ethyl acetate, leaving no trace on your fabrics.)If you've ever used finger nail polish remover, you're familiar with ethyl acetate. You may have noticed how quickly it evaporates.

I agree that we need to be very careful in what we expose ourselves too, and I am all about natural products, but this particular dryer sheet study wasn't a very good example of what NOT to actually looks like it had a lot of natural stuff in it! These are not the chemicals to be afraid of!

Nadine M. Rosin/ author, speaker, holistic pet care advocate said...

Natasha- thank you for your opinion and for offering your expertise to the conversation!

Personally, I feel that where we agree to disagree is similar to the debate regarding synthetic hormone replacement vs bio-identical hormone replacement.

In 30 years of holistic study, one of the common threads I've found is that a substance in its natural form can be benign or even beneficial to the body, yet when changed by even 1 molecule in the lab, can wreck havoc on the immune system.

Personally, I'd always want to encourage pet parents to error on the side of caution and in my own dryer, I use organic cotton bags filled with lavender that I either grow myself or buy from local organic growers.