Experts throw new light on fragrance allergies

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Allergy

Scientists from the German Federal Institute (BfR) for risk assessment say that the inhalation of personal care fragrances could trigger skin allergies in sufferers.

As well as personal care fragrances, problems could arise from fragrances used in foods, household goods and air fresheners, which makes elimination and detection all the more difficult.

No scientific evidence

Although allergy sufferers have continued to claim that inhalation of fragrances can trigger allergic symptoms, experts say that there has been no conclusive scientific evidence to back this up.

However, a recent panel discussion held in Berlin and gathering experts belonging to the BfR, concluded that sufferers who already have a skin allergy to fragrances may exacerbate the symptoms through the inhalation of such substances.

The meeting also included the National Action Plan Against Allergies, which is a part of the Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture (BMELV).

Consumers need to be informed

“Consumers should, therefore, be better informed about the products and premises fragrances are used in,”​ said professor Dr. Andreas Hensel.

The BfR says it is concerned because the number of allergic reactions to fragrances being reported is showing signs of rapid increase, in conjunction with the increasing use of fragrances in a variety of consumer products and environments.

For example the use of fragrances in retail and public spaces is growing, in an attempt to make the environment more aromatic and provide a congenial ambience.

In addition, any regulations that regard fragrance use in consumer products have tended to concentrate only on the cosmetics and personal care category and have largely ignored other fragrance containing products.

Europe catches on to fragrance allergies

Until recently concerns over fragrance allergies have been more predominant in North America, where campaigns to make public areas fragrance free have now been running for a number of years.

Indeed, bans have been implemented in a number of institutions, including schools universities and hospitals across the United States.

However, Europe may be following suit, as earlier in the year it was revealed that hospital authorities in Gothenburg, Sweden, are seriously considering making 49 hospitals in the city region fragrance free zones because of fears over allergies.

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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