I've never been what most call a good "shopper" and so I don't spend a lot of time in retail stores. Recently, however, I had the occasion to visit a few local stores and I was "bowled over" by the smells. I won't call them fragrances, saving that word for the natural flowers, trees, animals and human scents that my husband, John, and I have come to treasure. Years ago, we agreed to "opt out" of perfumes, aftershaves and anything scented because we appreciated "natural fragrances."

Television ads would have us believe that we must spend time overcoming all the smells that emanate from every room, every appliance, every piece of furniture, along with ourselves.

As I was thinking about what happened to me in my shopping, a newsletter that I have mentioned here before, "Total Wellness" by physician Sherry Rogers (www.prestigepublishing.com) came in the mail. Her piece, entitled "Fatal Fragrances" matched what I was experiencing and feeling. A friend of Sherry's was hospitalized from exposure to a neighbor's pesticides on their lawn. He said the bed sheets reeked of chlorine and fabric softeners, the floor cleaners were noxious and nurses came in wearing all manner of perfumes.

When we are exposed to these chemicals, they build up in our bodies and often do not leave, without conscious detoxing.

Sherry writes, "Fragrances are used in everything from cosmetics, laundry additives, cleaning agents, air fresheners. They are also integrated into plastics, computers, furnishings, fabrics, paints, carpets etc. We can definitely be in 'overload' and not even realize it. Chemical scents are concentrated in our body fat and passed along to infants in breast milk."

Sherry ends her article with, "Remember, nothing smells as good as just plain clean."

Many options are available. Sherry recommends The American Environmental Health Foundation as a resource for unscented products. "Green" products are becoming more available from most supermarkets and network marketing companies.

Sherry's radio shows are archived and can be heard by searching www.radiomartie.com.

Also, become active consumers and ask managers to change store policy about air fresheners, if they are bothering you.

In the November issue of Prevention magazine, Dr. Weil answers a consumer's question about this same issue. He explains that artificial odors irritate the lungs, so much so that a study earlier this year found 1,4 dichlorobenzene (found in mothballs and room deodorizers) had invaded people lungs, causing weakened function.

Dr. Weil suggests: Add a few drops of your favorite pure essential oil to a spray bottle of spring water and spritz the air. This is what John and I use in the bathroom. Also, potted plants are little "air freshening factories," according to Dr. Weil. A study at NASA found that the peace lily and gerbera daisies are especially effective at removing many household toxins, even chemicals emitted from building materials.

My Mom, Marian Shetter, always believed in making her own cleaning products from household items readily available. I found some recipes to share. John and I are using this glass cleaner as a start.

Glass Cleaner

1 c. alcohol

1 c. water

1 T. clear, non-sudsing ammonia

All Purpose Cleaner

1 T. clear, non-sudsing ammonia

1 T. clear laundry detergent

2 c. water

Furniture Polish

1 c. olive oil

1/2 c. lemon juice

The lemon juice dissolves dirt and smudges; the olive oil shines and protects the wood.

I continue to appreciate ideas and suggestions for this column. To contact me: ShumanLifeCenter.com; amy@shumanlifecenter.com; (301) 777-3719; Amy Shuman, 11900 Messick Road. SE, Cumberland, MD 21502.

Amy Shuman is a freelance writer, fiber art sculptor, knitting designer and coach. Her column appears here each week.

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