Afssaps noted that regulations could be tighter concerning cosmetic products, particularly as its risk assessment does not take into account the total exposure to various products likely to contain aluminium.
The study suggested that the concentration of aluminium in cosmetic products should be limited at 0.6 per cent and that cosmetics containing the element should not be used on damaged skin, with this warning clearly labelled on product packaging.
“More than twenty-five aluminium compounds can be used in cosmetic products. The aluminium chlorohydrate is one of the most widely used, especially as antitranspirant,” said a statement from the French agency.
There have been many studies looking into potential health risks related to aluminium-containing products, with previous tests suggesting a link between the use aluminium-based antiperspirants and breast cancer.
Afssaps assessment was aided by a recent dermal absorption study by the cosmetics industry and although no conclusive link was found between dermal aluminium exposure and development of cancer, it still urged caution.
“Exposure to antiperspirant products with concentrations of 20 per cent aluminium chlorohydrate does not ensure consumer safety under normal conditions of use,” Afssaps stated.
In 2003, a common scientific opinion from the French health and safety agencies was published highlighting the lack of relevant data on dermal absorption of cosmetic products containing aluminium.
In 2004, further works were published indicating a link between the use of underarm cosmetics such as aluminium-based antiperspirants and breast cancer.
Following a request from the Directorate General for Health, Afssaps says it was requested to provide a scientific opinion on the safety of aluminium from cosmetic sources.
Its present risk assessment takes into account both the recent dermal absorption study provided by industry and summarised toxicological data, partly based on the recent opinion provided by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).