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Previous emails about what's in Bounce and other laundry softeners
contained scary MSDS information on the hazards of chemicals found in
laundry softeners. Feeling uneasy about what I'd started I contacted
the author of the 1991 paper that analyzed laundry softeners. I thought
you might find his comments interesting. I feel that this exercise
illustrates not only that dangerous chemicals are ubiquitous and have
unanticipated uses (and consequent exposures, releases, contamination);
but also that their hazards can be overestimated (though as Lance
Wallace notes "very great sensitivity" is possible).
----- Forwarded by Rick Reibstein/R1/USEPA/US on 07/26/2002 10:37 AM
<lawallace@usgs. To: Rick Reibstein/R1/USEPA/US@EPA
Subject: Re: Polar Volatile Organic
07/25/2002 11:20 Compounds paper
I checked the Website and the paper listed is accurate, although missing
all the graphs (about 6 chromatographs showing the actuaL GC/MS
However, it should be emphasized that our identifications of the
while accurate, were qualitative only--that is, we had no way of
determining the actual concentrations. Probably these concentrations
extremely low. The observed health effects from these chemicals are
on very high exposures. Therefore for most people (as is obvious from
their very wide use in these consumer products), exposure to these
chemicals causes no noticeable health effects. It is, of course,
but unproven that some persons have very great sensitivity to low
concentrations of the chemicals.
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
555 National Center
Reston, VA 20191
07/24/02 02:55 PM Subject: Polar
Volatile Organic Compounds paper
I received an email about how great Bounce laundry static cling reducers
were, and asked pollution prevention listserve members if they knew
anything about what was in Bounce. I received back a list of toxic
chemicals that turned out to be from an entity called the Environmental
Health Network. Here are the websites that contain the information, and
I have copied the heart of it below. The long and the short of it is
that when I looked at the source of the information it was claimed to be
a 1991 paper by you entitled "Identification of Polar Volatile Organic
Compounds in Consumer Products and Common Microenvironments" and another
one published a year later. I found a copy of this paper on a strange
little website called www.ourlittleplace.com/epa.html, which although it
has "epa" in it, is by some Christian couple.
And updated/related info at http://users.lmi.net/~wilworks/ehnfsbw.htm
(and elsewhere on that site).
My questions are: is the paper on ourlittle place a true and accurate
copy? Can I receive one copy if it is not? Is there more recent
information? I would plug the information into the EPP and P2 networks.
Here is what the Environmental Health Network has put out. Thanks for
Excerpt from "getipm.com" newsletter:
WOULD LIKE TO CAUTION YOU: SOME PEOPLE ARE VERY SENSITIVE TO THE
VOLATILE CHEMICALS IN THESE SHEETS!!!!
Fabric softener info from the EPA - Compiled by Julia Kendall;
distributed by Environmental Health Network
Symptoms of exposure are taken from industry-generated Material Safety
Data Sheets (MSDS)
Chemicals Found in Fabric Softeners/Dryer Sheets
Alpha-Terpineol - Causes CNS (central nervous system) disorders...
"highly irritating to mucous membranes" ."Aspiration into the lungs can
produce pneumonitis or even fatal edema." Can also cause "excitement,
ataxia (loss of muscular coordination), hypothermia, CNS and respiratory
depression, and headache." "Prevent repeated or prolonged skin contact."
Benzyl Acetate - Carcinogenic (linked to pancreatic cancer). "From
vapors irritating to eyes and respiratory passages, exciting cough." "In
mice: hyperanemia of the lungs." "Can be absorbed through the skin
causing systemic effects." "Do not flush to sewer."
Benzyl Alcohol - Causes CNS disorders... "irritating to the upper
respiratory tract" .."headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drop in
blood pressure, CNS depression, and death in severe cases due to
Camphor - Causes CNS disorders. On EPA's Hazardous Waste list. Symptoms:
"local irritant and CNS stimulant" ..."readily absorbed through body
tissues" .."irritation of eyes, nose, and throat" ..."dizziness,
confusion, nausea, twitching muscles and convulsions". "Avoid inhalation
of vapors. "
Chloroform - Neurotoxic. Anesthetic. Carcinogenic. on EPA's Hazardous
Waste list. "Avoid contact with eyes, skin, clothing. Do not breathe
vapors ... Inhalation of vapors may cause headache, nausea, vomiting,
dizziness, drowsiness, irritation of respiratory tract and loss of
consciousness." "Inhalation can be fatal." "Chronic effects of
overexposure may include kidney and/or liver damage." "Medical
conditions generally aggravated by exposure: kidney disorders, liver
disorders, heart disorders, skin disorders." "Conditions to avoid:
Heat..." Listed on California's Proposition 65.
Ethyl Acetate - Narcotic. On EPA's Hazardous Waste list. "...Irritating
to the eyes and respiratory tract" ..."may cause headache and narcosis
(stupor)" ..."may cause anemia with leukocytosis and damage to liver and
kidneys". "Wash thoroughly after handling."
Limonene - Carcinogenic. "Prevent its contact with skin or eyes because
it is an irritant and sensitizer." "Always wash thoroughly after using
this material and before eating, drinking ... applying cosmetics. Do not
inhale limonene vapor."
Linalool - Narcotic. Causes CNS disorders. ..."respiratory disturbances"
..."Attracts bees." "In animal tests: ataxic gait, reduced spontaneous
motor activity and depression ... depressed heart activity ...
development of respiratory disturbances leading to death."
Pentane - "Danger - Harmful if inhaled ... Avoid breathing vapor."
"Inhalation of vapors may cause headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness,
drowsiness, irritation of respiratory tract and loss of consciousness.
Repeated inhalation of vapors may cause CNS depression. Contact can
cause eye irritation. Prolonged exposure may cause dermatitis (skin
rash)." CNS = Central Nervous System Your brain and spine. CNS
disorders include: Alzheimer's Disease, Attention Deficit Disorder,
dementia, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's
Disease, Seizures, Strokes, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. CNS exposure
symptoms include: aphasia, blurred vision, disorientation, dizziness,
headaches, hunger, memory loss, numbness in face, pain in neck and
So it may make sense to simply avoid their use for any reason, including
as a fabric softener. This is just another example of "Better Living
Through Chemistry." No wonder the sheets can be used to keep flies, mice
and mosquitoes away!
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