Perfumes' chemical safety unknown: report
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 | 12:05 AM ET
Top-selling fragrances contain chemicals that can trigger allergic reactions or disrupt hormones but are not listed on labels, according to a new report calling for changes in federal regulations.
The report, released Wednesday by Environmental Defence in Canada and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics in the U.S., assessed 17 fragrances bought in both countries that were tested by an independent laboratory in California. They included Britney Spears' Curious, Calvin Klein Eternity, Abercrombie & Fitch Fierce and Old Spice body spray.
The tests found a dozen or more chemicals not listed on labels, multiple chemicals that can trigger allergic reactions or disrupt hormones, and substances that have not been assessed for safety by the beauty industry's self-policing review panels, the groups said.
"Clearly, the system is broken and is putting Canadians' health at risk," Rick Smith, the executive director of Environmental Defence, said in a release.
"Yet, the fix is simple: Canadians need to know what's in the perfume they're buying, be assured the perfumes are safety-tested, and know that the most harmful chemicals are banned. It's up to our federal government to make sure that laws concerning these products are protecting Canadians' health."
The findings in the report included:
- An average of 10 sensitizing chemicals that can trigger allergic reactions such as headaches, wheezing, asthma, infant diarrhea and vomiting and reduced pulmonary function were found in each product.
- An average of four hormone-disrupting chemicals were found in each product. The chemicals may mimic the hormone estrogen.
Ingredient list 'meaningless'
Of the 91 ingredients identified in the study by lab tests or product labels, 19 have been reviewed by the industry-funded Cosmetic Ingredient Review.
An industry spokesman said more detailed labelling was uncalled for. "The assertions in the report that some fragrance ingredients could be hormone disruptors are based on incomplete assessments of available scientific data about potential hormone effects and do not take into account actual exposure in cosmetic products," said Mike Patton, a spokesman for the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association.
"Fragrance components are made up of many substances, and it’s simply impossible to list them all on a product label. In addition, the listing of all fragrance materials would be meaningless to all but expert chemists. The practical approach chosen by regulatory authorities has been to require specific declarations or restrictions only when there is a clearly defined need," Patton added in an email to CBC News.
Health Canada is reviewing the report. A spokesman said all cosmetics must meet the requirements of a number of regulations, including the Food and Drugs Act, which states: "No person shall sell any cosmetic that has in or on it any substance that may cause injury to the health of the user."
"Health Canada continually reviews scientific studies, monitors the marketplace for adverse reactions and takes appropriate corrective action when required to protect the health and safety of Canadians," Stephane Shank said in an email to The Canadian Press.With files from The Canadian Press
Top News Headlines
- Neil Macdonald: Harper no Obama when it comes to dealing with scandals
- Beset by three so-called scandals at the moment, Barack Obama has been meeting his accusers and the press head on, Neil Macdonald writes. The same cannot be said for how Stephen Harper operates. more »
- Court freezes assets in widening SNC-Lavalin probe
- The RCMP are moving to freeze millions of dollars in bank accounts and real estate holdings in Montreal and Florida in their expanding probe into Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin. more »
- Needed: New approaches to defuse 'suicide contagion' among teens
- Mental health experts say we need to find new ways to refer to and discuss suicide, particularly now that a large medical study has confirmed that teens are more susceptible to the idea if they know a schoolmate who died that way. more »
- 2nd suspect in Tim Bosma case in court today on murder charge
- A second man arrested in the death of Tim Bosma, a Hamilton father who disappeared after taking two men on a test drive, is due in court today to face a charge of first-degree murder. more »
Latest Technology & Science News Headlines
- Arctic bacteria discovered breeding at record –15 C
- Bacteria that can live and multiply in High Arctic permafrost at temperatures well below the freezing point of water have been discovered by a Canadian-led team of researchers, offering clues about the types of organisms that might exist in similar extreme environments elsewhere in our solar system. more »
- Video forensics: How easy would it be to fake a Rob Ford video?
- Two media outlets reported last week that they had seen a cellphone video of Mayor Rob Ford allegedly smoking crack, a claim that has gone global. If a video does surface, how easy would it be to determine its authenticity? CBC News asked video forensic analyst David McKay. more »
- Internet bill would unlock personal details, says watchdog
- The Harper government's recent bid to give police more information about Internet users would have unlocked numerous revealing personal details — from web-surfing habits to names of friends, says a new study by the federal privacy watchdog. more »
- Xbox One: A closer look
- The design, performance, Kinect camera, controller, requirements and limitations of Microsoft's Xbox One get a critical look. more »
- How the weather info that storm chasers use can keep you safe
- Radar imagery and a stream of weather information are readily available to the public when severe weather bears down. more »
Bob McDonald's Blog
- Chris Hadfield: The gravity of gravity May. 17, 2013 9:58 AM After five months of being Superman and a media superstar, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is now beginning the challenging task of adapting his mortal body and brain to life back on Earth.
Quirks & Quarks
- May 25: The Origin of Feces May. 22, 2013 11:36 AM Cow pies, scat, droppings, guano, dung, manure, night soil, poop, fecal matter, sh*t. Call it what you may, excrement plays a crucial role in evolution, culture and the environment.
- 2nd suspect named in Tim Bosma slaying
- Killing near London barracks probed as 'terror' act
- 2nd suspect in Tim Bosma case in court today on murder charge
- Mike Duffy's primary home not P.E.I., unedited Senate report says
- Senators' Alfredsson on defeating Penguins: 'Probably not'
- 'Appalling murder' of U.K. soldier prompts emergency meeting
- Rob Ford fired as Don Bosco Eagles football coach
- 1.3 million Montrealers face boil water advisory
- 'You will see him again in heaven,' Sharlene Bosma tells daughter