Photo: Avoid parfum in baby products

We as consumers (and moms) don't know what's in parfum. Credit: valentinapowers via Flickr)

Lots of people trying to avoid harmful chemicals — like parabens, petrolatum and phthalates — are stumped when they run into parfum or fragrance on a label.

The truth is, we as consumers (and moms) don't know what's in parfum.

When the David Suzuki Foundation invited Canadians to read the labels on their personal care products and look for Dirty Dozen harmful ingredients, parfum was the one most commonly found — in 56 per cent of the products entered. And like you, 62 per cent of the 6,200 people who took our survey were already carefully reading ingredient lists!

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Parfum is a code word that can represent any number of unspecified fragrance chemicals. Over 3,000 chemicals are used as fragrances, but manufacturers are not required by law to disclose them. In other words, there's no way you can tell which of those 3,000-plus chemicals are in the parfum in your baby lotion from reading the label.

Call or write the manufacturer. Every company should have a contact form, email address or a 1-800 number on the product packaging, or on their website. Then, ask them what's in their parfum.

You're definitely on track when it comes to reducing your baby's exposure to harmful chemicals. Now avoid parfum. In most cases, it's a matter of scrolling to the end of the ingredient list on personal care products. It's almost always lurking at the bottom.

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