Many hazardous chemicals are used in fragrances without regulatory oversight!
Unilever will voluntarily disclose all chemicals in its fragrances, exceeding U.S. regulatory requirements, and will complete the task by 2018.
The International Fragrance Association states that over 3,000 chemicals are used to make fragrances, but only 200 of them are regulated. U.S. regulations do not require full disclosure, which means listing “fragrance” on the label is acceptable.
Unilever will list the chemicals in fragrances on their website. In addition, individual product information will be available on SmartLabel, a tool that gives consumers ingredient information for a range of consumer products.
Unilever will elevate itself to a leadership position by taking this pro-active stance, and the hope is that other brands will follow suit. NGO, Women’s Voices for the Earth, has worked tirelessly to increase fragrance disclosure and educate women about the dangers of hazardous chemicals to human and environmental health. They have also shown that many people, especially women, are very sensitive to fragrances, and that the number of people affected is increasing.
Let’s drill down a little bit more on fragrances to understand the concerns.
What health concerns are associated with fragrances?
Fragrances in personal care products are the second most common cause of allergic skin reactions. Acute health issues include:
What hazardous chemicals are used in fragrances?
A fragrance is defined as a substance that provides a smell and fragrances can be made from synthetic or natural chemicals, such as lavender or peppermint. Some of the most hazardous known chemicals in fragrances include:
How are brands and retailers proactively managing “fragrances?”
Many brands, especially those that make personal care products, have a fragrance-free selection. Brands such as Method and Seventh Generation incorporate green chemistry principles into their R&D process.
Target has introduced a chemicals management strategy that addresses transparency as one of its key components, although they have not stated a strategy to address fragrances yet.
What should consumers do?
Consumers can reduce their exposure to fragrances by:
The ever increasing importance of transparency and disclosure is not going away, and fragrance disclosure is one excellent example of just that.
Impacts to your business? Questions to consider:
Is your company proactive by getting ahead of regulations?
Is transparency and disclosure important as part of your sustainability program?
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