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The Safety of Fragrance Materials

Contact Author Dr. Donald L. Opdyke
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When one considers the long history of the use of fragrances, their broad distribution, and the extent of exposure to them, one is impressed with the very few examples of injury to humans that can be attributed to these materials, The only problems reported have been occasional rashes on the skin, and even more specificalIy, light-induced rashes. And yet there is a persistent myth in the cosmetic industry that any problem encountered in the safety testing of a new cosmetic must be attributable to the fragrance component. Only systematic screening of all of the materials used in fragrances by an independent scientic body, and systematic and voluntary conscientious response by the industry to eliminate ingredients shown to cause harm can dispel this myth.

The Research Institute for Fragrance Materials, Inc., an international non-profit organization, was established in 1966 by the industry to do research on the many ingredients employed in perfumery. At present, RIFM is supported by 52 of these companies, representing most of the industry in the United States, Europe, and Japan.

In order to ensure an independent scientific status for the Institute, it is structed so that the only link between the administrative branches and the scientific arms is the President, who performs a dual role as scientist and administrator. The President has available to him the advice of a Scientific Advisory Committee composed of perfumers, research scientists and analytical chemists drawn from the fragrance industry.

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