Fashion houses’ defence of toxic perfume has whiff of inaccuracy, says top scientist

Dermatologists insist that ingredients causing allergies could go without changing smell.

Independent, By Jeremy Laurance

The scientist who led a three-year investigation into the toxicity of chemicals used in fragrances has hit back at claims by some of the world’s leading perfume houses that the report’s recommendations will destroy the industry.

Ian White, a consultant dermatologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and the chairman of the EU Scientific Committee on Consumer Protection (SCCP), said fragrances were a key cause of allergies.

Dr White was speaking after perfume manufacturers protested last week that the SCCP investigation had identified 100 ingredients of fragrances as potentially unsafe, including three which it said should be banned and others which it said should be restricted.

The protests highlighted tree moss, which manufacturers pointed out had been used as a constituent of perfume brands such as Chanel for more than 90 years.

“This is not a trivial problem,” Dr White said. “After nickel, fragrances are the most important cause of allergy. Most things applied to the skin contain fragrances of one sort or another: deodorants, hand creams, body sprays. We are not talking about particular products, such as fine fragrances. When people put these things on their skin they get eczema.”

The co-ordinated PR move by the perfume houses claimed the report was an attack on Europe’s most famous fashion houses and their scents. News reports warned that consumers could be left to live without their bottle of Chanel No 5 and Miss Dior because of meddling EU bureaucrats. “It would be the end of beautiful perfumes if we could not use these ingredients,” Françoise Montenay, the non-executive chairman of Chanel, told Reuters.

“It is essential to preserve Europe’s olfactory cultural heritage,” said a spokesperson for LVMH, the luxury-goods group which owns Dior and Guerlain.

The SCCP report was adopted as an opinion by the EU last July but the protests from the perfume industry surfaced only last week.

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1 comment to Fashion houses’ defence of toxic perfume has whiff of inaccuracy, says top scientist

  • adrena

    It is essential to preserve Europe’s olfactory cultural heritage,” said a spokesperson for LVMH, the luxury-goods group which owns Dior and Guerlain.

    Hahaha … yes, it’s reeeeally important to maintain the culture of having allergic reactions to their poisons.

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