Greenpeace Study Critical of Some Fragrances

PARIS — Greenpeace published a study in Brussels Thursday claiming that numerous well-known fragrances contain potentially hazardous chemicals.

The report, called “Eau de Toxines,” includes the levels of phthalate esters and synthetic musks allegedly found in a random selection of 36 scents. Greenpeace said “virtually all” fragrances tested contain such ingredients.

An organization representing the fragrance industry defended the safety of the compounds.

For the study, Greenpeace hired TNO, an independent laboratory in the Netherlands, to test 36 random brands of eaux de toilette and parfum.

“The results confirm that some synthetic musks, most notably the polycyclic musks galaxolide (HHCB) and tonalide (AHTN), and some phthalates, especially diethyl phthalate (DEP), are widely used by the perfume industry,” the report said. “This suggests that regular use of perfumes could substantially contribute to individuals’ daily exposure to these chemicals, some of which have already been recorded as contaminants in blood and breast milk. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence of potential endocrine-disrupting properties for certain musk compounds. In this context, these results reinforce the need for legislation that will drive the replacement of hazardous substances with safer alternatives.”

The report claims that, while data remains limited, phthalates and synthetic musks may be health and environmental hazards. It adds that current EU legislation only offers “partial protection from the chemicals used in cosmetics, including perfume products.”

The list’s 36 different fragrances include Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male, Calvin Klein’s Eternity and The Body Shop’s White Musk and the level of phthalates and synthetic musks they purportedly contain.

“The findings have prompted Greenpeace to start meeting perfume manufacturers to discuss a phaseout of hazardous chemicals,” the organization said in a statement.

“We want to show our love on Valentine’s Day, not expose our partner to hazardous chemicals,” said Helen Perivier, toxics campaigner at Greenpeace International, in the statement. “Perfume should be a pleasure to give and to wear, not a source of chemical buildup in our bodies.”

In response to the Greenpeace study, the Federation des Industries de la Parfumerie issued a statement saying: “A recent report by Greenpeace throws doubt on the harmlessness of fragrances. It is necessary to remember that all fragrances and cosmetics are closely monitored.”

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