In a new study from the University of Rochester, Lauren Parlett, a doctoral candidate in the department of public health sciences, pinpointed perfumes as the largest source of exposure women have to chemicals called phthalates. There are dozens ofphthalates used in personal care products, only a few of which have been studied, and the one particular variety used in perfumes is a big question mark when it comes to your health.
“We really need to understand how phthalates are affecting women’s health, and we’re just in infancy of doing that,” Parlett says.
Parlett used surveys women had filled out about their personal-care-product use and compared those to results of a urine analysis, which measured their levels of various phthalates.
The more personal care products a woman used, the higher her body’s levels of phthalates, Parlett found. Phthalates were found in nearly every woman, and almost 70 percent of their study subjects had at least 10 different phthalate metabolites in their system. The most commonly detected were metabolites of diethyl phthalate (DEP), a phthalate commonly used in lotions, shampoos, perfumes, and other scented products to prevent fragrances from dissipating.