I am ecstatic to see people outdoors, taking walks with their families and loved ones, soaking in the radiant Colorado sunshine, getting their daily 10,000 steps and enjoying the coming of spring. As I take my evening walk with Stevie, our Boxer, she and I cannot escape the smell of synthetic fragrance overpowering the air from people’s dryer vents. Although some may argue that this odor is pleasant, others would consider it as offensive as tobacco smoke. Unfortunately many people are unaware that their dryer sheets are filled with chemicals made from powerful environmental toxins that are poorly regulated and don’t have to be disclosed on the label as anything other than “fragrance.” Studies have shown that these synthetic fragrances contain endocrine disruptors and other unhealthy compounds that can trigger asthma, allergies, skin conditions and migraines. In one study, dryer sheets were found to cause these complaints in 12.5% of the US population. I believe that these conditions would increase significantly if the dryer was vented into the home instead of the outdoors where it contaminates our community air.
Thus, in this era of the virulent COVID-19 pandemic, I recommend a moratorium on dryer sheets to decrease the risk of provoking asthma attacks and lung injury as people enjoy a break outside from being quarantined at home. The spring pollens, blossoms and grasses already provide inescapable challenges. Instead, eco-friendly advocates suggest using naturally made wool balls, white vinegar on a washcloth or maybe even a crumpled aluminum foil ball added to the dryer to prevent static cling. Maybe those who stop using dryer sheets during this time may find that they feel better.
Dodson, R. E., Nishioka, M., Standley, L. J., Perovich, L. J., Brody, J. G., & Rudel, R. A. (2012). Endocrine disruptors and asthma-associated chemicals in consumer products. Environmental health perspectives, 120(7), 935–943. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1104052
Yang, S. N., Hsieh, C. C., Kuo, H. F., Lee, M. S., Huang, M. Y., Kuo, C. H., & Hung, C. H. (2014). The effects of environmental toxins on allergic inflammation. Allergy, asthma & immunology research, 6(6), 478–484. https://doi.org/10.4168/aair.2014.6.6.478