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With recession worries rising in the United States and elsewhere, many in the fragrance world are predicting a downturn for the industry in 2008. At the same time, there are projections that, by 2012, VOCs from consumer products will eclipse those of automobiles. Questions about fragrance safety are only growing, particularly regarding the respiratory impact of fragrances. As a result, fragrance companies are receiving request from customers to formulate ill-defined green fragrances, which often focus on biodegradability issues and so-called allergens. These were just some of the issues discussed at this year’s Fragrance Materials Association annual business meeting on January 16 in Teaneck, NJ.
In both formal and private discussions, the topic of recent Green Seal rule changes was raised. GS-37, which covers industrial/institutional cleaning products such as bathroom, glass and carpet cleaners, is undergoing a review. Green Seal’s primary concerns are whether such products are a) environmentally friendly and b) safe for consumer use (no adverse health effects). As always, fragrance has been made a scapegoat for many of these issues. And now there is concern that the revised GS-37 could lead to a reduction in the amount of fragrance used in these products. Industry representatives have objected to anti-fragrance language in the revision. In addition, many are worried that the rules will no longer allow for the existing 2% VOC fragrance exemption. Furthermore, there are proposed bans on all phthalates (including DEP), polycyclic musks and nitro musks on the table, in addition to lower concentration limits for d-limonene, pinene and myrcene.
Related to this issue, there was some anecdotal evidence that a number of companies have received GS-37 disclosure agreements containing a sunset clause for fragrance formulation confidentiality, which aimed to post said formulas on the Green Seal Web site at some point in the future.