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Tag ‘Allergies’

A whiff of an anti-EU story – but updating perfume rules makes sense

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Between 1% and 3% of people in Europe – so between 600,000 and nearly 2 million people in the UK – suffer from allergic reactions to certain fragrances, which might be included not only in perfumes but products such as soap and shampoo. Some of those reactions can trigger long-term problems, like eczema

Overall use of fragrances is increasing and so are the numbers of people with allergies to them.

So the European Commission put draft proposals on the table some months ago to revise the EU Cosmetics regulation to ensure products on the shelves are safe and to try to prevent more people developing allergies – taking into account scientific advice from a committee of member states’ experts, who published their opinion in June 2012.

No fragrances and certainly not Chanel No 5 will be banned – some may need to adjust their formula and indeed are already doing so.

These proposals would ban a very small number – three, HICC, atranol and choloatranol – of the vast number of ingredients used in fragrances, launch further analysis on limiting the concentrations of eight others (which between them contain 12 chemicals which are potential allergens) and introduce new labelling requirements .

The approach the Commisison has put forward is a sensible compromise between the interests of non-allergic consumers, people who are allergic or susceptible to become so and the industry – and many in the industry recognise this.

Of course, in the final analysis, it in the interests of the industry that the number of consumers experiencing allergic reactions to its products is kept to a minimum.

LVMH released this comment to the press – “The European Commission approach guarantees the security of consumers and preserves Europe’s olfactive heritage”.

The topic is now in the media spotlight again following the end of a 12 week public consultation  on the draft proposals.

The media has sniffed an anti-EU story (for example Now EU rules threaten future of Chanel No 5; Chanel and Dior fall prey to EU ingredient regulation; Iconic Chanel No 5 perfume to reformulate under new EU regulations; EU bureaucrats take aim at Chanel No 5) but far from “Brussels targeting the perfume industry” the committee’s opinion in fact recommended more extensive measures than the ones in the Commission’s draft proposals.

Our earlier blog piece here refers and includes links to earlier media articles – pointing to the need to address the very allergy issues behind the current draft proposals.

Another interesting such article is here from the Daily Mail: Is your scent making you ill? Today’s obsession with perfuming everything from candles to bin liners could be to blame.

After fully analysing the views of the industry, consumer groups and other respondents to the consultation, the Commission will put forward final proposals after the summer, aiming to ensure the burden on industry is as light as is consistent with the proper protection of consumers and their health.

These final proposals will then be voted upon by the Standing Committee on Cosmetics which is made up of Member States’ representatives. After which MEPs and EU government ministers will have three months to scrutinise the new rules and if they so choose, to raise objections. If not opposed, the new rules will be formally adopted and the changes could come into force in 2015, though with a transition period for the industry to adapt.



Media reporting on vacuum cleaners – don’t get sucked in!

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Over the past week there have been various reports about how EU energy saving regulations might affect future vacuum cleaners. We would like to put a few issues straight.

Less power does not mean less performance. The aim is to give consumers a better deal all round with vacuum cleaners that suck up more dirt, use less electricity, help keep energy bills down and are better for the environment. Inefficiently designed models will be phased out.

The new EU regulation focuses on dust pick-up efficiency as well as power. A vacuum cleaner that picks up more dust per passage over the floor only needs to be used for shorter periods and thus uses less energy.

Studies have shown that the introduction of these efficient vacuum cleaners would save 19 terawatt hours (TWh) of energy annually in the EU by 2020. As a comparison, this annual saving alone would keep the London Underground running for up to twenty years.

From September 2014 the maximum allowed input power will be 1600 Watt; from September 2017 it is 900 W. (current average on the market is about 1800 W)

Rather than focus on the energy savings and consumer benefits, the Daily Express said the regulation would create a potential health risk “because lower powered vacuum cleaners will not pick up allergy-provoking dust”. This is simply not the case. The regulation seeks to reduce dust emissions and clearly sets minimum requirements for the ability of a vacuum cleaner to pick up dust.

This will all be reflected in a new labelling system, so consumers can be clearly informed as to what they are buying.

The label will also outline the following important information:

Energy efficiency (A-G rating similar to those on washing machines and fridges)
Performance (ability to pick up dust)
Dust re-emission in the exhaust air (particularly important for dust related allergies)
Noise levels

So the regulation is not so much about banning high powered vacuum cleaners as encouraging high performance, energy efficient, dust busting technology.

The regulation on eco-design requirements is an update to take into account technological advances and derived from existing EU law agreed in 2009 by the European Parliament and by Member States.

This update is not simply based on a decision handed down by the European C0mmission – Member States can block the Commission’s proposal either through a vote of their experts or later at political level.

The procedure is as follows. Such changes to the eco-design rules require first a qualified majority (in other words a large majority of votes weighted by size of Member State) of experts in a committee of Member States. Either the European Parliament or the Member States in the Council then have several months to vote to block the procedure. That period has now elapsed, so the Commission will now formally adopt the new rules. Producers will have ample time to adapt to the new rules – see above.

EU banning perfume…or a whiff of media hyperbole ?

Thursday, 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)

EC in the UK

Check the EC Representation in the UK website

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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