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EU banning perfume…or a whiff of media hyperbole ?

November 15th, 2012

It is true that the European Commission is looking at possible changes to the regulatory framework governing some ingredients used in fragrances.

But this is not about bureaucrats handing down rules or banning perfumes, as some media have reported. It is about properly looking into scientific evidence. A committee of senior scientists from all Member States have advocated some additional labelling requirements and some lower concentration limits for some ingredients. They have also concluded that three specific ingredients amongst the very large number used in fragrances must be closely looked at. The European Commission is now legally obliged to consult all stakeholders – including consumer organisations and the cosmetic industry – on whether and how this should be reflected in updated rules, to protect consumers properly while minimising burdens on industry. Any additional regulatory measures – and we are a long way from that – would only follow a full public consultation and would be subject to agreement by Member States and by the European Parliament.

Oh, and the Daily Mail – one of those, along with the Sunday Times and some columnists on the Independent – presenting the situation as some sort of attack on human rights by the EU – has itself run several articles pointing to the dangers of some ingredients in perfumes. One article, reporting on moves in the US to ban New Hampshire state employees from wearing perfumes at work, said: “Up to one in 20 people suffer from a perfume allergy and it is a common cause of sinus problems, as well as other symptoms ranging from skin rashes and shortness of breath to nausea and dizziness. The chemical irritant in the scent penetrates the delicate tissue lining the sinuses and triggers swelling.” (Daily Mail, 13 Feb 2012) It also pointed out that this can affect people near the wearer as well as the wearer themselves.

Meanwhile the chair of the EU scientific committee responsible has his say – which just to be clear does not commit the Commission: Fashion houses’ defence of toxic perfume has whiff of inaccuracy, says top scientist (The Independent, 12 Nov 2012)

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Please note that all statements in all entries were correct on the date of publication given. However, older archived posts are not systematically updated in the light of later developments, for example changes to EU law.

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