Monday, 23 January 2012

Scenting... new regulations

A new public consultation of European Commission's Health and Consumers Scientific Committees caught my attention. Namely, on the preliminary opinion on fragrance allergens in cosmetic products. My interest is not surprising since I'm one of the 1-3% of Europeans that are allergic to various fragrances. I wasn't aware, however, that European Commission was doing anything about it that could influence me and others with the same problem.

It is a problem, indeed, since from the moment you find out that you are allergic to fragrances you need to change a big chunk of your daily habits (I'm trying to avoid here the cliche: "you need to change your whole life"). You may think that you just throw out any perfumes that you previously had but unfortunately, it has to go way deeper than that. You basically need to exchange all cosmetic products (whether shampoo, soap, creams, make-up, hair products etc.), all detergents that you use in your house (washing liquids, cleaning detergents, dishwasher powders etc.) for the ones without fragrances. Non-perfumed products are not always easy to find, more expensive, and with less choice among them. It's been two years since I was diagnosed and I still haven't found a shampoo and hair conditioner, that I'd be satisfied with.

So what does the European Commission plan to do about that? Apparently, in 1999 26 well-recognised fragrance allergens were identified on a European level, which means that they need to be listed individually on the labels of products in which they are included (cosmetics, detergents, toys - according to specific directives regulating marketing of these products). Consumers (like me) may then read (patiently) the long list of ingredients and when they see these fragrances on the list, they know that they should avoid a particular product. Since in the past 10 years the knowledge of fragrance allergens significantly increased, a new review has been prepared. The review: identifies again fragrance ingredients which are established contact allergens; considers the possibility to establish safe use levels for fragrance allergens reported to pose high risks to consumers.

You may submit comments to the preliminary opinion through this website until 17 February 2012.

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