Toxic Chemicals in Fragranced Laundry Products and Health Effects

toxic chemicals in laundry products

Some people wonder what the fuss about laundry products is all about.

What follows is Dr Anne Steinemann’s research on specific chemicals and their health effects. These are not just benign additives. They cause serious harm, and they are accumulating in ourselves and the environment, where they also harm other species.

Toxic Chemicals in Fragranced Laundry Products and Health Effects

Principal Investigator: Anne C. Steinemann, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Public Affairs, University of Washington.

Chemicals identified by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) headspace analysis.

Health and regulatory information obtained from databases compiled by the National Institutes of Health, Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies.

Note that fragranced consumer products are not required to disclose all chemicals, not even ones classified as toxic or hazardous. None of these chemicals were listed on any product label or material safety data sheet.

ACETALDEHYDE (75-07-0)
Recognized Carcinogen
Suspected Developmental Toxicant, Immunotoxicant, Kidney Toxicant, Neurotoxicant, Respiratory Toxicant, Skin or Sense Organ Toxicant
Regulated as toxic/hazardous chemical under the following law(s):
Air Contaminants (OSH Act); Hazardous Air Pollutants (CAA); Hazardous Substances (CERCLA); Regulated Toxic, Explosive, or Flammable Substances (CAA); Toxic Release Inventory Chemicals (EPCRA)

1,4-DIOXANE (123-91-1)
Recognized Carcinogen
Suspected Cardiovascular or Blood Toxicant, Gastrointestinal or Liver Toxicant, Immunotoxicant, Kidney Toxicant, Neurotoxicant, Respiratory Toxicant, Skin or Sense Organ Toxicant
Regulated as toxic/hazardous chemical under the following law(s):
Air Contaminants (OSH Act), Hazardous Air Pollutants (CAA), Hazardous Constituents (RCRA), Hazardous Substances (CERCLA), Toxic Release Inventory Chemicals (EPCRA)

CHLOROMETHANE (74-87-3)

Recognized Developmental Toxicant
Suspected Carcinogen, Cardiovascular or Blood Toxicant, Gastrointestinal or Liver Toxicant, Kidney Toxicant, Neurotoxicant, Reproductive Toxicant, Respiratory Toxicant, Skin or Sense Organ Toxicant
Regulated as toxic/hazardous chemical under the following law(s):
Air Contaminants (OSH Act); Hazardous Air Pollutants (CAA); Hazardous Constituents (RCRA); Hazardous Substances (CERCLA); Priority Pollutants (CWA); Regulated Toxic, Explosive, or Flammable Substances (CAA); Toxic Release Inventory Chemicals (EPCRA)

2-BUTANONE (78-93-3)
Suspected Cardiovascular or Blood Toxicant, Developmental Toxicant, Gastrointestinal or Liver Toxicant, Kidney Toxicant, Neurotoxicant, Reproductive Toxicant, Respiratory Toxicant, Skin or Sense Organ Toxicant
Regulated as toxic/hazardous chemical under the following law(s):
Air Contaminants (OSH Act), Hazardous Air Pollutants (CAA), Hazardous Constituents (RCRA), Hazardous Substances (CERCLA), Toxic Release Inventory Chemicals (EPCRA)

-PINENE (80-56-8)
Suspected Neurotoxicant, Respiratory Toxicant, Skin or Sense Organ Toxicant
Regulated as toxic/hazardous chemical under the following law(s):
Registered Pesticides (FIFRA)

BENZYL ACETATE (140-11-4)
Suspected Gastrointestinal or Liver Toxicant, Kidney Toxicant, Neurotoxicant, Respiratory Toxicant

ETHANOL (64-17-5)
Suspected Carcinogen, Cardiovascular or Blood Toxicant, Developmental Toxicant, Endocrine Toxicant, Gastrointestinal or Liver Toxicant, Neurotoxicant, Reproductive Toxicant, Respiratory Toxicant, Skin or Sense Organ Toxicant
Regulated as toxic/hazardous chemical under the following law(s):
Air Contaminants (OSH Act), Registered Pesticides (FIFRA)

ETHYL ACETATE (141-78-6)
Suspected Neurotoxicant, Respiratory Toxicant, Skin or Sense Organ Toxicant
Regulated as toxic/hazardous chemical under the following law(s):
Air Contaminants (OSH Act), Hazardous Substances (CERCLA), Registered Pesticides (FIFRA)

LIMONENE (138-86-3)
Regulated as toxic/hazardous chemical under the following law(s):
Registered Pesticides (FIFRA)

LINALOOL (78-70-6)
Regulated as toxic/hazardous chemical under the following law(s):
Registered Pesticides (FIFRA)
o, m, or p-CYMENE (527-84-4, 535-77-3, and 99-87-6)
Suspected Cardiovascular or Blood Toxicant, Neurotoxicant, Respiratory Toxicant

N,N-DIMETHYL ACETAMIDE (127-19-5)
Suspected Gastrointestinal or Liver Toxicant, Neurotoxicant, Skin or Sense Organ Toxicant
Regulated as toxic/hazardous chemical under the following law(s):
Air Contaminants (OSH Act), Air Contaminants (CA OSH Act)

The above info has been shared with Dr Steinemann’s permission.

The PDF version can be found here:

http://www.drsteinemann.com/Resources/Toxic%20Chemicals%20in%20Fragranced%20Laundry%20Products.pdf

More info can be found here: Fragranced Consumer Products: Chemicals Emitted, Ingredients Unlisted

Scorecard: listings of the chemicals that can cause cancer, harm the immune system, contribute to birth defects, or lead to any of nine other types of health impacts

Dryer vents emit toxic chemicals

Dryer vents emit toxic chemicals

Related Posts

I wrote about laundry products and shared a number of links with further information about how they affect us and the environment previously in

Toxic chemicals in everyday laundry products!?!

Fragrance: A Barrier to Access

Neigbourhood Pollution

Climate change is a symptom of pollution

Stay tuned for a post on safer ways to do laundry, or check out

the links at the bottom of Toxic chemicals in everyday laundry products!?!

and Laundry Decontamination Protocols for ideas

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7 responses to “Toxic Chemicals in Fragranced Laundry Products and Health Effects

  1. The smells from fragranced laundry products seem to be everywhere now. This is some of the worst for me.

  2. thanks Linda, for putting the information out there in black and white

  3. Sadly, these aren’t the only toxic chemicals in laundry products. Researchers test by looking for certain substances, but if they don’t know what to look for, they might not find it. I was informed a number of years ago that there were several other quite hazardous chemicals used regularly.
    This is why so many people are made ill by laundry products, and why we can’t go for walks outside or open our windows when people have their dryers on.
    Did you notice how all but one are neuro-toxic?
    Yet products with these and other harmful ingredients are adverstised on tv every 15 minutes, they appear in our email sidebars, as well as everywhere on the internet. Probably in print too, but since I haven’t been able to tolerate the inks and papers in years I don’t see those.
    PS. Many of the so-called fragrance free versions are also full of toxic chemicals,
    Even babies are forced to marinate in this stuff 24/7, from clothing and bedding they have contact with.
    Should be against the law to subject people and the environment to toxic chemicals on a daily basis!!!

  4. I began being sensitized due to TIDE. I plan on suing Proctor & Gamble as my life is destroyed.

  5. Thank you for sharing this truly disturbing information! People need to know!

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