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Health Canada questions fragrance compound as potential health risk

By Katie Bird , 29-Mar-2010
Last updated on 29-Mar-2010 at 17:18 GMT

Methyl eugenol has been proposed by the Canadian government as a substance that may pose a risk to human health, as part of its ongoing Chemical Management Plan.

The substance (benzene, 1,2-dimethoxy-4-(2-propenyl)) is found in a number of botanical extracts including essential oils, which may be incorporated into cosmetics and fragrances, and as flavors in food and beverage products.

It is being assessed as part of the ninth batch of chemicals investigated by the Canadian government, as it continues to look at over 200 ‘high priority’ chemicals in a process set to close some time this year.

Potential threat to human health

Five of the 17 substances looked at in batch 9 were highlighted as chemicals that could pose a threat to human health, including methyl eugenol.

For these chemicals, interested parties have 60 days to submit comments on the draft screening assessment, which will be taken into consideration by Health Canada before the development of any risk management strategies.

According to a spokesperson at the regulatory agency, it is too early to tell what risk management strategies if any will be taken, but the final assessment is expected in September.

Cannot be added as a pure chemical

Already regulated under Health Canada’s Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist, the substance cannot be added as a pure chemical to cosmetics and fragrance products.

In addition, it is subject to certain concentration limits. In fine fragrances it is permitted up to 0.01 percent, in eau de toilette at concentrations up to 0.004 percent, in 0.002 percent in a fragrance cream, 0.0002 percent in other leave on products and oral hygiene formulations, and 0.001 per cent in rinse off products.

In order to comment on this, please visit the Health Canada website.

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