The debate over the toxicity of unlisted chemicals in scented products is not new. A number of non-profit groups have rebuked companies, often in the cosmetics industry, for not disclosing the entirety of their ingredients claiming that their products negatively impact public health. Industries that produce fragrances and International Fragrance Association have responded that their products are safe and that the fragrances are within acceptable limits.
Presently, fragrance formulations are protected as trade secrets or Confidential Business Information, but this may soon change as one of the goals of the proposed TSCA revision is to increase transparency. Therefore, claims of Confidential Business Information will be denied if the chemical is already on the publicly available TSCA Chemical Substances Inventory or is submitted under TSCA Section 8(e) as part of a health and safety study. Full chemical disclosure on product labels is also being discussed by many campaigns. While not all industries will be affected by the TSCA revisions (e.g., cosmetic are regulated by the FDA), many companies will find themselves burdened with providing in-depth toxicity data on their chemicals and the development of more detailed labels.
It is true that some people are sensitive to certain smells, not necessarily only artificial fragrances, and may develop headaches or other mild, temporary effects. Generally, this occurs when exposed to a high concentration of a scented product and not with normal application. However, the fact still remains that unlisted chemicals in scented products are an issue in the media and in legislation. As suggested by the proposed TSCA revisions, the chemical regulation landscape is changing. Whether it is Confidential Business Information or product labels, companies need to (1) have a full appreciation of the potential health impacts of the chemicals in their products, (2) stay informed on the changes to these regulations, and (3) learn how to comply with the regulations relevant to their industry.