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Fragrance Allergens


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More than 2500 fragrance ingredients
are used in consumer goods such as
detergents and cleaning products,
cosmetic products, aromatherapy, and
herbal products. These can be derived
from natural sources or chemical
synthesis. It is estimated that between
1 and 3% of the European population is
allergic to some fragrance ingredients.
In the EU, since 2003, a series of 26
fragrance ingredients identified as
allergenic have to be identified on
the label of consumer products, which
is important to consumers who are
sensitive to these allergens. Now a
new series of allergenic ingredients
were identified.

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Fragrance Allergens

  1. 1. More than 2500 fragrance ingredientsare used in consumer goods such asdetergents and cleaning products,cosmetic products, aromatherapy, andherbal products. These can be derivedfrom natural sources or chemicalsynthesis. It is estimated that between1 and 3% of the European population isallergic to some fragrance ingredients.In the EU, since 2003, a series of 26fragrance ingredients identified asallergenic have to be identified onthe label of consumer products, whichis important to consumers who aresensitive to these allergens. Now anew series of allergenic ingredientswere identified.1 What kind of problems canbe caused by fragranceingredients?When in contact with the skin, somefragrance ingredients can produceirritations, usually resulting rednessof the skin or rashes. There can alsobe a more severe, allergic reactioncalled eczema which is a reaction ofthe immune system. Once an allergyis triggered by a first contact to anallergenic ingredient, it is a lifelongcondition which re-appears when theperson is exposed again to the samesubstance. The reaction depends onthe person affected, the nature of theingredient and the amount used, whichmay be very small. Some fragranceingredients do not cause allergicreactions as such but can be chemicallytransformed on the skin in the presenceof air, sunlight or also by biochemicalreactions inside the body, and thesemodified forms may then cause allergicreactions.1Are the fragrances that cantrigger allergies identified?Since the first 26 fragrance allergenswere identified, more fragrancesubstances have been shown to triggerallergic reactions. Based on the reviewavailable and on multiple cases ofallergy reported by dermatologists,the European Scientific Committeeon Consumer Safety (SCCS) identified82 substances (54 chemicals and28 natural extracts) that can becategorised as “established contactallergens” in humans, including the26 that were already on the list. Basedon the combined results from animalexperiments and the analysis of theirchemical structure, 26 other individualchemicals where categorised as “likelycontact allergens”. In addition, 35individual chemicals and 13 naturalextracts were also categorised as“possible contact allergens”. Threefurther specific substances wererecognized as “potent allergens”and not considered safe in consumerproducts. The SCCS recommends thatthese ingredients, as well as those thatcould be “activated” into allergenicsubstances should be added to the listof allergenic ingredients that consumershould be made aware of when presentin cosmetic products.This fact sheet is based on thescientific opinion on “Fragranceallergens in cosmetic products”adopted on 26-27 June 2012by the independent EuropeanScientific Committee onConsumer Safety.Allergenic fragrancesin cosmetic products detailed and nuanced view of the EuropeanScientific Committee on Emerging and NewlyIdentified Health Risks on this issue is available at:1 Can a safe limit amountof allergens be set forallergenic ingredientsin cosmetic products?For some substances which have beenshown to cause a high number ofallergies, the opinion of the ScientificCommittee is that, if no thresholdsfor safe use can be established forthe ingredients and natural extractsof concern, an exposure level incosmetic products of less than 0,01%or less (or 10 mg/100g of cosmeticproduct) would prevent allergicreactions in the majority of cases.The SCCS also identified primaryand secondary prevention measures,from prohibition to information, thatcould limit or eliminate exposure tofragrance allergens.Scientific Committees