Fragrances and Perfumes can be Toxic

By Cancer Prevention Coalition


As emphasized in the Safe Shopper’s Bible, fragrances and perfumes in cosmetics, personal and household products are leading causes of allergy, sensitization, and irritation. Animal toxicity studies have found many to be hazardous. Fragrances are called “indoor air-pollutants” by chemically sensitive individuals.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has reported that the fragrance industry uses up to 3000 ingredients, predominantly synthetic, some 900 of which were identified as toxic. However, the industry is not required to disclose ingredients of fragrances and perfumes on their labels due to trade secrecy considerations. The FDA supports this non-disclosure on the grounds that "consumers are not adversely affected -- and should not be deprived of the enjoyment" of these products.

An analysis of six different mainstream perfumes by Scientific Instrument Services, released in November 1998, identified over 800 ingredients with distinctive patterns for each perfume. These ingredients include a wide range of volatile and semi-volatile organic chemicals which are thus a significant contributors to indoor air pollution.

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