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Fragrance Industry Responds to Anne Steinemann's Study

Posted: August 4, 2008

Anne C. Steinemann, a researcher at the University of Washington, released a study late last month entitled “Fragranced consumer products and undisclosed ingredients,” which claims fragrance ingredients contained in a selection of consumer products are potentially toxic. Steinemann examined six products (three air fresheners and three laundry supplies) using regulatory and chemical analysis. The author’s study found that in the six products, nearly 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were identified, but none of the VOCs were listed on any product label, and one was listed on one MSDS. Also, Steinemann’s study says that of these identified VOCs, 10 are regulated as toxic or hazardous under federal laws, with three (acetaldehyde, chloromethane, and 1,4-dioxane) classified as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs). Click here (pdf, 138 KB) to download Steinemann’s study. 

The Fragrance Materials Association (FMA) has published a statement addressing the issues raised in the study. According to the FMA, “The Steinemann study presents no new data or breakthrough analysis.” The FMA goes on to say “She claims that, simply because certain chemicals are present in the analyzed products they pose a health risk to all consumers. This is hardly sound science, but rather more like crystal ball gazing and cannot be compared to the sound, independent four-step safety testing process outlined above, which is carried out by the fragrance industry.” Click here (pdf, 41 KB) to download the FMA’s response statement. 

In addition, the FMA and Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM) have provided a response to a series of questions put to them by a Seattle reporter. Click here (doc, 71 KB) to download the questions and answers.