Chemical Safety Cosmetics Fashion Health and Safety Toxic Products

EcoWaste Coalition Urges FDA to Test Fragrance Products Sold By Sidewalk Vendors for Harmful Chemicals

“The fragrance you are wearing could be making you and others around you sick.”

14 February 2019, Quezon City. Beware of the fragrance you are wearing that could be making you and others around you sick.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watch group, drew attention to the potential health risks linked with fragrance products that are widely sold in the market as these may contain allergenic and hormone disrupting substances.

Through a letter sent to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the group notified the agency about the proliferation of cheap fragrance products sold by sidewalk vendors that have no valid cosmetic product notifications. The letter was sent yesterday via e-mail to Director General Nela Charade Puno and Center for Cosmetic Regulation and Research Director Ana Trinidad Rivera.

The group expressed concern over the undisclosed ingredients in perfume products, particularly in the “fragrance” or “parfum”, which may contain chemicals that can trigger allergies, asthma, migraine headaches, and other health problems.

According to Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database, “the word ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ on the product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants such as diethyl phthalate. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.”

“Our monitoring shows that fragrance products carrying different brand names are widely available in the informal market, particularly in the streets of Quiapo, Manila, where we managed to procure 16 different items,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We are deeply concerned with the proliferation of such products that are within the purview of the FDA because the products have not undergone quality and safety assessment, and the actual composition of the fragrance in these products is unknown,” he said.

The products, which are supposedly imported from China, are sold by sidewalk vendors for P50 per bottle of 35 ml.

Among these are imitation products of popular perfume brands, including “Boos Orange” (for “Boss Orange”), “Euphorie” (for “Euphoria”), “Pqlq” (for “Polo”), and “Vercage” (for “Versace”), the group said.

While the packaging provides for basic information, including the product’s name, manufacturer, country of manufacture and ingredients, as well as precautionary statement, no information is given about the product’s importer or distributor.

To protect consumers against unwanted exposure to undisclosed substances in fragrance products that may cause health problems for users as well as non-users, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the FDA to:

  1. Issue a public health advisory informing and warning consumers against the use of unnotified fragrance products such as perfume, cologne, aftershave, etc.
  2. Analyze samples of unnotified fragrance products for banned or restricted substances, especially those linked to allergic reactions , hormone disruption, cancer and other hazardous health conditions.
  3. Conduct law enforcement activities to stop the sale of illegal fragrance products.

To curb exposure to chemicals of concern in fragrance products, the EcoWaste Coalition, a proponent for a zero waste and toxics-free society, proposed that users should limit their use of perfume to special occasions, apply perfume in well-ventilated place, and seek out natural products that are free from parabens, phthalates, solvents and other synthetic chemicals.