A recent study has shown that fragrance found in beauty, personal care and cleaning products may contain toxic chemicals that could increase cancer growth and other health problems.


It is understood that more than 4,000 chemicals are presently used to scent products, and a single scent may contain anywhere from 50 to 300 distinct chemicals.

The research, which was conducted by the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP) in San Francisco, investigated a total of 140 different consumer products, with unique fragrances, to identify the presence of unsafe chemicals in the products.

The study examined products which are marketed to children and African women, as well as products marketed by celebrities, with claim that they are “good for the environment and green.”


Findings of the study revealed that three-quarters of the toxic chemicals detected in a test of 140 products came from fragrance.

The researchers also discovered that a list of fine fragrance, endorsed by celebrities, were produced using harmful chemical components.

It reported that a hair product marketed to African children contains the most toxic chemicals amongst the understudied products.


Chemicals found in the products included carcinogens, hormone disruptors, asthmagens, and toxicants linked to cancer, developmental or reproductive toxicity and respiratory diseases.

The researchers noted that the secrecy of fragrance chemicals, as well as the self-regulatory nature of the industry promoted the use of toxic chemicals by manufacturers.

“One consequence of this is that even the companies that manufacture beauty, personal care and cleaning products themselves are more often than not denied access—or are only granted limited access — to information about the constituent ingredients of the fragrances they are purchasing from fragrance suppliers,” Janet Nudelman, policy director for BCPP and research co-author, said.

“Ironically, even if these companies wanted to disclose fragrance ingredients to their customers, they might not be able to do so.


“When we took a harder look at beauty and personal care products we found that many chemicals of concern were hiding under the word ‘fragrance”.

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