Health risk posed by secret chemicals in fragrances

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics recently commissioned an independent lab to test 17 fragrance products. Campaign partner Environmental Working Group assessed data from the tests and the product labels. The analysis reveals that thirty eight secret chemicals had been used in 17 name-brand fragrance products, topped by:

• American Eagle Seventy Seven, with 24;
• Coco Mademoiselle Chanel, with 18;
• Britney Spears Curious and Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio, with 17.

The average fragrance product tested contained 14 secret chemicals not listed on the label. Among them are chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions, and many substances that have not been assessed for safety in personal care products.

Also in the ranks of undisclosed ingredients are chemicals with troubling hazardous properties or with a propensity to accumulate in human tissues. These include diethyl phthalate, a chemical found in 97% of Americans (Silva 2004) and linked to sperm damage in human epidemiological studies (Swan 2008), and musk ketone, a synthetic fragrance ingredient that concentrates in human fat tissue and breast milk (Hutter 2009; Reiner 2007).

The majority of chemicals found in this report have never been assessed for safety by any publicly accountable agency, or by the cosmetics industry’s self-policing review panel.

Some perfume and cologne ingredients are found on product labels, but others hide under the secretive ingredient 'fragrance'. Due to this trade secrets loophole, nearly half of the ingredients in the products we tested were not listed on labels.

Click here for the full report.

May 2010

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