Not So Sexy: The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance

This report is a clear and powerful compilation of the issues around consumer safety and the perfume industry.  The authors tested 17 name-brand fragrances, discovering that only half the ingredients included in the fragrance are found on the label.  On average, 14 ingredients were secret in addition to the 15 on the label.  This is due to a loop hole in the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1973 that exempts fragrance.  The issue of safety for the consumer is the focus and so the report clarifies the main areas of concern being allergic sensitivity, hormone disruption and hidden health risks such as reproductive disorders, birth defects and neuro-toxicity.  These are hidden in that they are not only not disclosed on the label, they are also not studied for safety.  Of the 3100 chemicals used in the fragrance industry, only 11% have actually been studied.  Finally, the authors point out the lack of self-policing in the fragrance industry and call on the industry to adopt full disclosure as a policy and on consumers to avoid fragrance or make informed decisions.

This report was compiled by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a national coalition of nonprofit women’s, environmental, public health, faith and worker safety organizations.  Coalition members include the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, the Breast Cancer Fund, Commonweal, Environmental Working group, Friends of the Earth and Women’s Voices for the Earth.

Not So Sexy:  The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance  (Sarantis, Naidenko, Gray, Houlihan, & Malkan, 2010)

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