When I see the word "secret", I think "sensationalism" especially when it's used by a report positioning itself as being scientifically objective. Two watch-groups, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working Group have issued a report on the safety of ingredients choosing to look at 17 top-selling fragrances on the market including products such as Chanel Coco, Britney Spears Curious, Armani Acqua di Gio or JLO Glow. The top offender according to this report Not So Sexy: the Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrances is American Eagle Seventy Seven with 24 unnamed ingredients. While high-profile names may attract more attention and publicity, what this report is implicitly about is the possible presence of harmful chemicals in all sorts of toiletries, detergents, cosmetics etc. ...
They have found out that because of a lack of legislation control on the issue (see rebuttal below at Happi), the term "fragrance" appearing on the product packagings can turn out to cover a list of unlabeled ingredients which they prefer to use the more dramatic term "secret" to refer to. They are not in the open because they are not required to, so the characterization "secret" is to be taken with a grain of salt. On the other hand, the analysis reveals the presence of chemicals deemed to be harmful to human health although not all of their effects have been fully appraised. An AOL article reveals that Congress has shown ill-will in digging deeper into the issue and in fact reportedly discouraged any further research "In a February interview, senior FDA officials told AOL News that Congress has prevented the agency from regulating cosmetics."
From the report:
"The clandestine compounds include some with troubling hazardous properties or a propensity to accumulate in human tissues. The researchers say these include diethyl phthalate, a chemical found in 97 percent of Americans and linked to sperm damage in human epidemiological studies; musk ketone, a synthetic fragrance ingredient that concentrates in human fat tissue and breast milk; and food additives whose safety in perfumes has not been assessed."
Note: If diethyl phtalate is in 97% of Americans, it can't come all from fine fragrances, obviously.
There is also a tendency in the report to demonize man-made chemical compounds while natural ingredients can also be sensitizing.
A critique of this report by Personal Care Product Council's chief scientist John Bailey has been released via Happi. One of the core flaws of the data presented is that "The validity of the report is seriously undermined by its failure to include quantitative measurements of the 'secret' ingredients it purported to find. Such measurements are a fundamental element of toxicological risk assessments. Without them, it is impossible to make valid judgments about potential risks," Bailey added.
"According to The Council, the report also erroneously alleges that many of the materials "revealed" in their testing have not been assessed for safety, while in fact, most of the ingredients have been the subject of a safety assessment by one or more authoritative bodies."
Read more...at AOL
Read more at Happi...