There is an odor wafting from the University of Washington — very like the one we discussed last October — and once again, the source is Dr. Anne Steinemann’s claims that commercial fragrances are hazardous to our health. Dr. Steinemann’s most recent “research,” published in this month’s Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health, alleges that scented laundry and dryer sheets can cause cancer.
Dr. Steinemann, who is a professor of civil and environmental engineering and of public affairs, is concerned about what she says are “carcinogens” seeping through dryer vents. She points specifically at benzene and acetaldehyde, and calls for more stringent regulation of the laundry products containing them.
ACSH’s Dr, Josh Bloom notes, “Unless we have an indication of the amount of each chemical detected, this ‘research’ is absolutely meaningless. Benzene is found in gasoline, and acetaldehyde is formed in your liver after you drink any alcohol. While it is true that, in sufficient quantities, both chemicals are toxic, the few molecules Dr. Steinemann is sniffing around for amount to an absurd waste of time.”
“My major question,” says ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross, “is ‘why does the media cover such claptrap?’” He points out that the “carcinogens” detected by Dr. Steinemann’s lab are not at levels sufficient to harm a fly, much less a human. “Giving such scares publicity,” he says, “merely encourages Dr. Steinemann and her acolytes to continue to churn out more alarmist research.”