A small study, presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) Annual Congress in has found the first evidence of a risk associated with the use of argan powder during the industrial production of cosmetics.
The cosmetics industry is no stranger to media scares, with ingredients often under scrutiny regarding the possible detrimental health effects on make-up users; and many of these can be blown out of proportion.
There are, however, limited studies on the production of make-up ingredients and the effect on factory workers, which led Dr Emmanuelle Penven to research the matter.
A sample of nine patients from a cosmetic factory in France were analysed in the study. All participants were exposed to the product in three different forms: crude granules, powder or liquid.
Each participant then completed a questionnaire about their medical history, before lung function and allergy tests were carried out, along with an inhalation challenge test, which examines the airways specific reaction to a substance - in this case argan.
Out of the nine workers, four displayed asthma or rhinitis symptoms and had a blocked nose when handling argan powder.
The results found that three of them had occupational asthma caused by argan powder, which researchers said was proved by specific challenge tests. Two of the four also had a positive allergy skin prick-test to argan powder.
“Occupational asthma can be a debilitating condition if it prevents a person from working,” comments Dr Penven.
“This study is very preliminary but does suggest an association between argan powder and occupational asthma. Our initial findings warrant further research to understand any health risks associated with the compound.”