Our 5 senses work together, allowing us to gather pertinent information, process it, and make sense of the world around us. In particular, our sense of smell is one that not only can alert us of nearby danger, inform us that we’re about to partake in a delicious meal, but our sense of smell also has a strong connection to the parts of our brain that process emotion and memory. This unique connection is what causes us to think of a hot summer day when we smell barbeque, or a cozy fall day when we smell pumpkin spice. Research has shown that humans can discriminate over 1 trillion different odors or stimuli1. But despite how imperative our sense of smell can be along with the exciting experiences and memories we may have because of it, should we ever be concerned about the smells we breathe in? Possibly.
Many scented personal care items, candles, wall plug ins and things of the like, contain a group of chemicals called phthalates. These chemicals are useful in strengthening the aromatic fragrance in products, making them more potent and longer lasting. However, chronic exposure to some phthalates have shown to have a direct effect on our health and not necessarily in a positive way2. For example, some phthalates have been linked to reproductive problems, such as premature breast development in younger girls, sperm damage, and even shorter pregnancy duration2. Unfortunately, products containing phthalates are used daily within our population and avoidance of their use almost seems impossible. But we can be more diligent in reducing our exposure. Searching for “phthalate free” products or using products made with natural and clean ingredients is a great first step. Beeswax candles scented with essential oils, oil and reed diffusers may be creative alternatives to still fill your surroundings with the aromas you love, while making your health a priority.
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