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An ‘Epidemic’ of Fragranced Products is Affecting Our Health, New Research Suggests

The recent trend for “cleaner,” more natural, unprocessed foods for improved health and well-being has also led to a shift towards household and beauty products that are also more natural and without preservatives, and possibly for good reason.

According to recent research, consumers’ extra attention to what they are putting on their bodies and in their homes could be beneficial for health, with a new study finding that one in three Australians report health problems related to fragranced products.

Professor Anne Steinemann from the University of Melbourne School of Engineering led a survey of a random sample of 1,098 people taken from a large, web-based panel held by Survey Sampling International (SSI).

She found that when exposed to fragranced products, 33 per cent of Australians suffer a variety of adverse health effects, including breathing difficulties, headaches, dizziness, rashes, congestion, seizures, nausea, and a range of other physical problems.

In addition, the results also showed that 7.7 per cent of Australians have lost workdays or a job in the past year due to illnesses caused by exposure to fragranced products in their workplace, and 16.7 per cent want to leave a shop or business as quickly as possible if they smell air fresheners or other fragranced products.

A survey in Australia found that as many as
one in three consumers experience health problems from fragrance.

“This is an epidemic,” said Professor Steinemann commenting on the findings, “Fragranced products are creating health problems across Australia. The effects can be immediate, severe and potentially disabling. But they can also be subtle, and people may not realize they’re being affected.”

Professor Steinemann’s previous research in the U.S. found similar results, revealing that 34.7 per cent of people experience health problems when exposed to fragranced products.

Fragranced products – which can include air fresheners, cleaning products, laundry supplies, and personal care products – give off a range of chemicals including hazardous air pollutants, with Professor Steinemann adding that, “All types of fragranced products tested – even those with claims of ‘green,’ ‘organic,’ and ‘all-natural’-emitted hazardous air pollutants.”

According to Greenbiz, half of all consumer products contain fragrance, and more than 3,000 chemicals can add fragrance to consumer goods worldwide.

Although what product information is required to be disclosed to consumers varies in each country, fragrance ingredients are exempt from full disclosure in any product, not only in the U.S. but also internationally. Often, labeling is vague, with many ingredients just coming under the umbrella of fragrance.

Professor Steinemann’s research will now continue to investigate why fragrance chemicals are causing health problems, and what their effect may be in indoor environments.

The findings can be found published online in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports with more information also available on Professor Steinemann’s own website.

Information for consumers about products can also be found on www.ewg.org

Relaxnews   Tuesday, March 7, 2017
 


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Can People Transmit Happiness by Smell?

Lab experiment with ‘scent samples’ suggests humans pick up on others’ positive emotions via sweat

TUESDAY, May 26, 2015 (HealthDay News) – As emotions go, happiness usually hides in plain sight: seen in a broad smile, heard in a raucous laugh, felt in a big hug.

But new research suggests there may be a less obvious way to pick up on another person’s positive vibes: smell.

According to a team of European researchers, happiness may generate chemicals that get secreted in sweat, and that sweat signal gets sniffed by those around us.

The experiments also suggest that we not only breathe in the upbeat emotions of others, but by doing so we actually become happier ourselves.

“Human sweat produced when a person is happy induces a state similar to happiness in somebody who inhales this odor,” said study co-author Gun Semin, a research professor in the department of psychology at Koc University in Istanbul, Turkey, and the Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada in Lisbon, Portugal.

The findings were published recently in Psychological Science.

The researchers noted that prior research has already demonstrated that negative emotions, such as fear or disgust, can be communicated via odors in sweat.

To see whether the same holds true for the happier feelings, Semin’s team gathered sweat samples from 12 young men after each watched videos designed to induce a variety of emotions, including happiness and fear. All the men were healthy, drug-free nonsmokers, and none drank, consumed smelly foods or engaged in sexual activity during the study period.

In turn, 36 equally healthy young women were engaged to smell the samples while their reactions were monitored. The smell group, explained investigators, was confined to women because women typically have a better sense of smell than men and are also more sensitive to emotional signaling.

After analyzing the facial expressions of the smell group, the research team concluded that there does, in fact, appear to be a so-called “behavioral synchronization” between a sweating person’s emotional state, the sweat generated, and the reaction of the person who sniffs that sweat.

Specifically, that meant that the faces of women who smelled “happy sweat” displayed facial muscle activity deemed to be representative of happiness.

Sniffing_happiness

Sweat didn’t always produce a contagious response in the smeller, however. For example, those smellers who verbalized having a “pleasant” or “intense” reaction to a sweat sample did not manifest those reactions in their facial expressions.

What is it exactly that makes “happy sweat” infectious?

Semin, who is also professor of social and behavioral sciences at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, acknowledged that “we have not demonstrated what the nature of the chemical compound is in sweat.”

Pamela Dalton is an olfactory (smell sense) scientist with the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. She said she found the findings “a little surprising.”

However, “what is interesting about this study is that it suggests a positive emotion can be communicated – which in my opinion is far less important in human evolution and behavior than to be able to transmit and recognize a negative emotion, such as fear or anger,” Dalton said.

For that reason, Dalton said she “would expect the ability to communicate a happy emotion to [actually] be less potent than the ability to transmit a negative emotion.”

But Andreas Keller, a research associate with The Rockefeller University in New York City, said the study findings make intuitive sense.

“Hearing happy people and seeing happy people makes you happier,” he said, “so the fact that smelling them would make you happier, too, is probably not so surprising.”

According to Keller, the next step “would be to find out what the chemical difference in fear sweat and happy sweat is that mediates these effects. This would open the door to study what is going on at a mechanistic level.”

View Article Sources          WebMD News from HealthDay     By Alan Mozes    HealthDay Reporter
 source: HealthDay