What you can do

You can play your part by passing the information to your contacts who may be interested.

Think of what you may be doing to your own health, to the health of others and to the natural environment. Think of the potential risks posed by these chemicals to future generations.

If this article has led you to question the wisdom of using petro-perfumed products, take heart: there are alternatives. Appendix 2 lists some manufacturers and products which were free from artificial perfumes in 2006; I cannot guarantee that the information is all still correct, so check with labels or manufacturers.

Avoid products which carry the word ‘parfum’, ‘perfume’ or ‘fragrance’ and items which are obviously unnatural, such as the misleadingly-named ‘air fresheners’. If you can’t find unperfumed products in supermarkets, try health food shops and online ‘Green’ stores. You could also ask stores which don’t stock unperfumed products to do so. If you want wholesome natural perfumes, use genuine plant extracts such as essential oils, not petrochemical ‘fragrances’.

Write to manufacturers telling them what you want, and why. Consumer power works – one only has to think of the enormous increase in the availability of organic food, for example – because people WANT it. If people don’t buy a product, manufacturers will have to stop making it.

The range of non-perfumed products is growing, so keep a look-out for products that don’t threaten to make you fat, smelly and stupid. Don’t let greedy, irresponsible, uncaring multinational companies brainwash you into thinking that you, your clothes, your home and your children need to smell of their toxic products.

In fact, you can completely escape the bewildering and expanding plethora of absurdly-specific cleaning products on shop shelves, which are clearly designed to extract as much money as possible from gullible consumers rather than to improve our health and well-being. There are numerous internet pages listing cheap, safe alternatives to brand-name cleaning and fragrancing products. A good example is Homemade Natural Cleaning Products.

The problem is now in all our bodies. The solution is – to a great extent - in all our hands.