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‘Fragrance’ ingredient, added to unsafe database

A recently published, comprehensive review of fragrances and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in personal care and household products has prompted the addition of fragrance to the unsafe database of the Supermarket App Pro, an unsafe ingredient scanner. The review, published in the Journal of Xenobiotics, on March of 2023,  “Do fragrances in personal care and household products impact indoor quality and pose healt risks?” highlights the potential health risks of fragrance and its constituents, including exacerbation of specific tumor types and disruption of the endocrine system.

The study found that fragranced products emit hundreds of different VOCs, including potentially hazardous chemicals such as acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, and methylene chloride, many of which are not disclosed on product labels or safety data sheets. These chemicals can negatively impact indoor air quality and expose people to harmful compounds.

The review highlights several concerning findings:

  • Fragranced products developed to clean and disinfect surfaces emit hundreds of different volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including potentially hazardous ones like limonene and acetaldehyde.
  • A systematic study showed that limonene and linalool were present as fragrance chemicals in 72% and 45% of the most common household product formulations analyzed worldwide.
  • Fragrance chemicals are VOCs that can impact indoor air quality and negatively affect human health, particularly in sensitive populations.
    Repetitive indoor exposure to fragrance chemicals poses a risk for vulnerable and sensitive persons, like asthmatic and allergic people, people who suffer from migraines, and occupational and housekeeping workers.
  • Fragrance chemicals can also act as endocrine disruptors and exacerbate the aggressiveness of specific tumor types and increase the number of metastases.

Furthermore, the research showed that fragrance chemicals are detected everywhere in several environments and can trigger or intensify episodic and chronic symptoms of allergies, headaches, and cardiovascular diseases in sensitive organisms. In severe cases, fragrance chemicals can interfere with the neuroendocrine-immune axis and promote cancer and developmental problems.

The lack of regulation and disclosure of fragrance constituents in personal care and household products has prompted the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials to undertake risk assessments and safety evaluations for fragrance substances. However, constant surveillance and analysis of fragrance chemicals in products and their formula components are crucial to mitigating the potential health risks associated with their widespread use.

This review highlights the need for a re-evaluation of fragrance’s safety and regulation. The addition of fragrance to Supermarket App Pro’s ingredient database will raise awareness of the potential risks associated with its use and will hopefully encourage manufacturers to use safer alternatives.