As the mother of young adult, teenage daughters and sons I never miss an opportunity to educate them about what America is "selling" them. The other day I was having some mother-daughter time in the local mall and as we strolled through Dillards, the cosmetic counter lured them in. Hook, line and sinker! Advertisement everywhere of "beauty" and trusting saleswomen all wanting to spray them with exotic petrochemicals that have been proven to be carcinogenic and have been taken off the market in Europe.
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The average fragrance product tested contained 14 secret chemicals not listed on the label. Among them are chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions, and many substances that have not been assessed for safety in personal care products.
Also in the ranks of undisclosed ingredients are chemicals with troubling hazardous properties or with a propensity to accumulate in human tissues. These include diethyl phthalate, a chemical found in 97 percent of Americans and linked to sperm damage in human epidemiological studies and musk ketone, a synthetic fragrance ingredient that concentrates in human fat tissue and breast milk.
The federal government is equally uninformed. A review of government records shows that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not assessed the vast majority of these secret fragrance chemicals for safety when used in spray-on personal care products such as fragrances. Nor have most been evaluated by the safety review panel of the International Fragrance Association or any other publicly accountable institution.
Fragrance secrecy is legal due to a giant loophole in the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1973, which requires companies to list cosmetics ingredients on the product labels but explicitly exempts fragrance. By taking advantage of this loophole, the cosmetics industry has kept the public in the dark about the ingredients in fragrance, even those that present potential health risks or build up in people’s bodies.
Ingredients not in a product’s hidden fragrance mixture must be listed on the label. As a result, manufacturers disclose some chemical constituents on ingredient lists but lump others together in the generic category of “fragrance.” In fact, “fragrances” are typically mixtures of many different secret chemicals, like those uncovered in the study. On average, the 17 name-brand fragrances tested in this study contained nearly equal numbers of secret and labeled ingredients, with 14 chemicals kept secret but found through testing, and 15 disclosed on labels.
3,163 ingredients hide behind the word "fragrance"! Its time to change legislation and get the toxic carcinogens out of our personal care products. RAISE YOUR VOICE!