Study finds fragrance allergen testing needs to be more effective

By Louise Prance

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Eczema Asthma Perfume

Swedish scientists have discovered that skin patch testing on a
widely used chemical in fragrance manufacturing may not be
effective enough in detecting allergies caused by the ingredient.

A study to be published in ACS' Chemical Research in Toxicology discovered that the chemical geraniol, used in cosmetics, underarm deodorants and fragrances, could potentially be harming more consumers than first thought. Only accounting for 5 per cent of positive skin allergen test responses in the fragrance allergen testing, the chemical has previously been regarded as weak and therefore suitable for consumers with dermatitus and skin problems. However, study leaders, Ann -Therese Karlberg and other scientists, found that geraniol oxidizes when exposed to air, a process which changes it into a more dangerous and harmful allergen and could cause subsequent skin allergies when applied in a fragrance. With fragrances already being the second most common cause of dermatitis, slighlty behind nickel, the news could be worrying for fragrance manufacturers who readily use the chemical within the majority of products on the market. Likewise, the news may cause an adverse reaction from fragrance wearers who may be inclined to turn to more natural alternatives in order to feel 'safer' when purchasing cosmetic products that could cause skin problems. The report states, "Cases of allergy to the oxidation products of geraniol will not be diagnosed unless patients are tested with the air-exposed material," "Thus, our observations once more emphasise the need for testing with the right material for screening contact allergy". ​ Fragrance manufacturing has come under scrutiny recently with IFRA's revised code of practice and the 42nd​ amendment, the Quantatitive Risk Assessment (QRA) programme. The news that another fragrance ingredient has potentially harmful effects seems to have come at a time when the fragrance industry as a whole is carefully analysing the consumer effects of the substances incorporated in fragrance products. This is highlighted by the latest plight from lobby group Cropwatch to stop the banning of citrus oil in fragrance manufacturing by the EC following the call for concern that the furanocoumarins (FCF's) involved are allegedly linked with photo-carcinogenic potential.

Related topics Formulation & Science Fragrance

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