What’s That Smell?

Are product fragrances harmful to our health? I’m not just referring to perfume, body spray or cologne.  I mean everything from your laundry detergent to dryer sheets, dish soap, body wash, hand soap, cleaning products, sweat odor removal products, shampoo, lotions and even pet shampoo.  I’m sure there are many more products that list “fragrance” on the contents.

Recently some industry groups and even the government have taken note of the fact that chemicals added to create product fragrances can be harmful to our health.

The Environmental Working Group and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ “Not So Sexy: Hidden Chemicals in Perfume and Cologne” and the Women’s Voices for the Earth’s “What’s that Smell? How the Magnesium Soap May be Hazardous to Your Health” take a deeper look into what they consider are harmful effects of chemicals not printed on the label in cosmetics and cleaning products.

Also, just late last month, two bills were introduced to Congress addressing chemicals in products.

However, the Fragrance Materials Association, an industry trade group that supports fragrances, disagrees fragrances can be harmful.  In a recent Pittsburg Post Gazette article, the executive director is quoted as saying, “recent reports of chemicals are subjective and unnecessarily alarming.”

I don’t know if chemicals added to make fragrances are harmful to my health, but I certainly think the noise in the industry is a good thing.  If there are different chemicals product manufacturers can be using to reduce any potential harmful effects, I want them to be evaluating those.  If manufacturers start eliminating fragrances to produce safer products, I’m all for that too.

Jennifer Manocchio


After starting her career with Edelman in Chicago, Jennifer joined Sweeney and quickly established herself as an exceptional industry innovator. In 2004, she opened Sweeney’s first full-service office outside of Cleveland and quickly rose through the ranks to become agency president. Jen leads by example and without fear. She has been critical to agency growth throughout the past decade and continues to lead the agency into the future.