A family-oriented documentary called "Stink!"1shines a bright light on the unregulated use of toxic chemicals in U.S. consumer products, from baby wipes and shampoo to floor cleaners and laundry detergents.
The idea for the film originated from director Jon Whelan's experience in tracking down the source of a strong chemical odor that wafted off new pajamas he'd purchased for his two young daughters.
After discovering the toxic stench was a trade secret held by the parent company of popular American tween store Justice, Whelan began investigating the fragrance industry, which he suggests is valued at $100 billion.
What Whelan found is that manufacturers, with the aggressive backing of the chemical industry, routinely conceal thousands of potentially toxic ingredients in the baby care, household and personal care products you and your family use every day.
They do so by using the term "fragrance," which is entirely free of government oversight and safety regulations.2
Lack of regulation means that when you see the word fragrance on product labels, it does not refer to a single ingredient, but likely dozens of toxic chemicals in combination.
For example, S.C. Johnson's fresh citrus blossom-scented Glade PlugIns oil refill contains a whopping 60 chemical components, which are encompassed under a single word on the product label: fragrance.
According to the Geneva-based International Fragrance Association (IFRA), the self-regulating body of the global fragrance industry, about 3,000 specific chemicals fall under the term fragrance.3
When you purchase a product that lists fragrance as one of the ingredients, you have no way of knowing how many chemicals reside within, or how those chemicals might interact with each other. Many of the chemicals are synthetic — often petroleum based — and increasingly linked to chronic health conditions
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