European Commission bans ‘health hazard’ fragrance

By Andrew McDougall

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union Perfume Ifra

The European Commission has announced its decision to ban the fragrance material musk xylene under the new European Chemicals Legislation REACH because of its potential effects on the environment.

Musk xylene is a type of synthetic musk fragrance, which mimics natural musk. It has been used as a perfume fixative in a wide variety of consumer products, particularly cosmetics and fragrances.


The substance was permitted for use in cosmetics products in the European Union under the Cosmetics Directive.

One of six banned substances

However, it was one of six substances that have been banned for use in industry because of health hazards and potential environmental effects.

International Fragrance Association (IFRA) president Pierre Sivac expressed his delight at bringing EU regulations in line with the global IFRA Standards.

“We have always taken our responsibilities for safety very seriously and once again our self-regulatory approach has proved to be more up to date with current scientific knowledge, faster to implement and cheaper for industry and consumers,”​ he said.

IFRA voluntarily banned musk xylene through its standards, which are part of the fragrance industry’s global self-regulatory programme contained in the IFRA Code of Practice.

IFRA standards

The IFRA Standards form the basis for the globally accepted and recognised risk management system for the safe use of fragrance ingredients and are part of the product risk management process.

The IFRA Code of Practice is the self-regulating system of the industry, based on risk assessments carried out by an independent expert Panel.

The role of the panel, made up by dermatologists, toxicologists, pathologists and environmental scientists, is to evaluate the data on a fragrance to see if it supports the current use level, in an effort to ensure there is no risk for the consumer or the environment.

In the cases where the safety assessment does not support the current use, the panel instructs IFRA to issue a Standard either restricting or banning the material. This was the process that led to the creation of an IFRA Standard banning the use of Musk xylene in June 2009.

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