Is There A Health Cost To Smelling Nice?

May 14, 2010

A prominent environmental organizations from Canada and the United States have recently revealed that many of the popular brand name perfumes and colognes contain potentially hazardous chemicals that are not listed on their labels.

According to the new report, most of the perfumes just list "fragrance" as an ingredient and do not name specific substances that have not been examined for safety by the beauty industry's review panels and that could cause allergic reactions and other health effects.

Testing 17 popular perfumes, colognes and body sprays, California's Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Toronto-based Environmental Defence found that there were an average of fourteen unlisted dangerous chemical ingredients in each of the products assessed, including American Eagle Seventy Seven, Coco Mademoiselle Channel, Britney Spears Curious, Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio, Old Spice After Hours body spray, Quicksilver and Calvin Klein Eternity for men.

Of ninety-one ingredients identified by the lab tests or product labels, the experts reported that nineteen have been examined by the Cosmetics Ingredient Review and twenty-seven have been tested by the International Fragrance Association and the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials, which state voluntary norms for chemicals used in fragrance. The assessment results also revealed that there were 38 so-called "secret" chemicals that were not listed on labels in all 17 products tested.

In addition, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that twelve of the seventeen perfumes and colognes tested contained diethyl phthalate, known as DEP. In general, phthalates are classified as disruptors of endocrine system, meaning that they can interfere with the chemical signaling system in the body, and some research found that they may have a negative effect on the reproductive development of boys in the womb.

Many of the fragrances that were tested in the study also were found to contain lilial, an allergen that may trigger estrogen-like effects in the body, and benzyl salicylate, another strong allergen. "Anything in your house that smells like a rain forest or a strawberry patch or a pine tree will have these chemicals in them," explained Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence.

John Bailey, chief scientist for the Personal Care Products Council, the Washington-based industry group, said that in Europe, twenty-six ingredients must be listed on the label even if they appear to be a part of the fragrance. Of those twenty-six ingredients, the new study found only twenty-two in the products it assessed. The experts added that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other agencies have the authority now to restrict or ban any ingredient used in the cosmetic industry that will be found unsafe.

Other fragrances tested include:

  • Jennifer Lopez J. Lo Glow
  • Calvin Klein Eternity (for women)
  • Bath & Body Works Japanese Cherry Blossom
  • Victoria's Secret Dream Angels Heavenly
  • Clinique Happy
  • Abercrombie & Fitch Fierce
  • Hannah Montana Secret Celebrity
  • Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue
  • AXE Bodyspray For Men - Shock
  • Halle by Halle Berry

Tags: Health

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