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Perfume Health Scare

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Wednesday, July 25, 2007 | 1 comments

A Swedish study reporting their findings in DECEMBER 2002 for Healthcare Without Harm has found high levels of chemicals called phthalates in some well known perfumes and toiletries. Some of these chemicals, already blamed as contributing to infertility and previously shown by a US study to cause genital abnormalities in mice and rats, were found in 34 toiletries. Di-ethylhexyl phthalate was found, for example, in Chanel No 5, Eternity by Calvin Kline, Poison by Christian Dior and Tresor by Lancome. Other forms of the chemical were found in Tommy girl, Impulse body spray, Nivea Deo Compact, Ultrasure deodorant, Shockwaves hair mousse, and hair sprays by Vidal Sassoon, Pantene Pro-V extra hold.

Genital abnormalities occur in 4 per cent of male births. These include undescended testicles, malformations of the urinary tract, hypospadias (see Related Resources), prostate damage, reduced sperm production and mobility, Sertoli cell damage (required to support sperm development), Leydig cell tumours.

The European Union has joined with other government regulatory agencies in viewing certain phthalates as a potential hazard for human reproduction.

In November 2002, the EU amended the Cosmetics Directive 76/768/EEC to order the removal of two phthalates in because of their reproductive toxicity. This directive should be enacted in the near future.

The European Union had previously classified both phthalates as substances, “…which should be regarded as if they impair fertility in humans” and substances, “…which should be regarded as if they cause developmental toxicity to humans.”

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in April 2001 said that they believe that "at the present time there is no reason for consumers to be alarmed at the use of cosmetics containing phthalates". It adds that they will continue to evaluate study data and if a health hazard exists they will consider its legal options under the authority of the Food, Drug and cosmetic Act in protecting the health and welfare of consumers. Their advice remains the same at this present moment in time.

Could this be a good example of the need for labeling of toiletries and cosmetics? At present this is not a general requirement but is perhaps something that we as consumers might choose to lobby more forcefully for?


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About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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  1. Toado says:

    Please see the Opinion of the EU Scientific Committee:

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