Exactly what are the fragrance industry’s standards of safety?
The term “fragrance” represents a chemical cocktail that can be made up of hundreds of ingredients. Fragrances are found in thousands of consumer products from cleaners to tampons, yet there are very few regulations over the ingredients used in fragrance. The current system for fragrance safety is run entirely by the fragrance industry — and this self-regulating program is greenlighting chemicals that reputable authoritative bodies and government agencies have restricted, banned or deemed hazardous.
|Skull and Crossbones pictogram GHS06|
|Human Hazard pictogram GHS08|
Fragrance Chemicals and Hazard Warnings
The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) is an internationally agreed-up on system, which clarifies the hazard classification of individual chemicals. A review of UN GHS classifications of fragrance chemicals finds that:
- 190 fragrance chemicals have been assigned the signal word “danger” for their Safety Data Sheet.
- 1,175 fragrance chemicals have been assigned the signal word “warning”.
- 44 fragrance chemicals require pictogram GHS06 of a skull and crossbones to indicate acute toxicity.
- 97 fragrance chemicals require pictogram GHS08 indicating the chemical is a hazard to human health
Fragrance Chemicals with International Warnings
Fragrance chemicals can be found on authoritative lists (that is lists that have been recognized by regulating bodies) of toxic chemicals around the world.
- 5 fragrance chemicals are included in the National Toxicology Programs 13th Report on Carcinogens
- 7 fragrance chemicals are classified as carcinogens in the IARC Monographs
- 11 fragrance chemicals are California Proposition 65 Carcinogens and Reproductive Toxicants
- 15 fragrance chemicals are on the Washington State Chemicals of Concern to Children list
- 4 fragrance chemicals are on the EU Endocrine Disruptors Priority List
- 15 fragrance chemicals are prohibited from use in cosmetics in the EU (EU Annex ii)
- 35 fragrance chemicals are on the Canadian Cosmetic Ingredient HotList
- 6 fragrance chemicals prohibited for use in cosmetics in Canada
- 29 fragrance chemicals restricted for use in cosmetics in Canada
In addition, chemicals in fragrance are also found on lists of chemicals of concern, including the following:
- 3 fragrance chemicals are found on the EU Substances of Very High Concern
- 54 fragrance chemicals on the California Department of Toxic Substances Control Candidate Chemical List
- 31 fragrance chemicals are on the ChemSec SIN List
Learn more about the failings of the fragrance industry’s self-regulated safety program – click here.