WRITTEN QUESTION E-0626/01 by Nicholas Clegg (ELDR) to the Commission. Hypersensitivity.
OJ C 261E , 18.9.2001, p. 166–167 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)
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WRITTEN QUESTION E-0626/01
by Nicholas Clegg (ELDR) to the Commission
(1 March 2001)
Has the Commission any figures available to it of the increase in the number of people with the symptoms of hypersensitivity (i.e. asthma, rhinitis and eczema etc.), as a result of exposure to perfumed products? In view of the dramatic increase in the number of people with allergic reactions to certain perfumes and fragrances, has the Commission considered amending the relevant Community legislation to ban the use of those materials that are known to cause hypersensitivity?
Answer given by Mr Liikanen on behalf of the Commission
(18 May 2001)
Consumers are exposed to many products containing fragrance ingredients or aroma which may cause sensibilisation such as household products, cosmetic and hygiene products or food. Depending on the type of products concerned these ingredients may be inhaled, applied on the skin or ingested. The analysis of the problem of fragrance allergy would request to consider the various sources of exposure.
On 8 December 1999, the Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products (SCCNFP) adopted an opinion on Fragrance allergy in Consumers. The report considered the problem of contact allergy caused by fragrance ingredients and, based on dermatological data reflecting the clinical experience, identified initially 24 fragrance ingredients corresponding to the most frequently recognised allergens. Some studies showed that around 8 % of tested eczema patients are sensitised to fragrance ingredients. Investigations of contact allergy in the general population are difficult to perform and for this reasons few studies exist. However, from studies performed on sectors of the population, it is estimated that the frequency of contact allergy to fragrance ingredients in the general population is around 1 or 2 %. A rising trend of fragrance allergy among eczema patients has been demonstrated in some clinics in Europe. The SCCNFP considered necessary to provide additional information to sensitised consumers regarding the presence of these fragrance ingredients in cosmetic products to help them to avoid cosmetic products which contain these specific substances above a level which may elicit a skin reaction.
Experience with other skin allergens, such as certain preservatives or Nickel, has shown that a total ban is not necessary to control skin allergy. Ingredients of this type can be used safely provided they are restricted to safe levels and that sufficient information is given to sensitised consumers.
The Commission wants to address fragrance allergy in a meaningful manner. It considers that it is not appropriate to ban the substances simply because they may cause allergy to some people but that it is crucial to inform consumers of the presence of such ingredients in order for them to avoid products containing these ingredients. Therefore, for cosmetic products, Council Directive 76/768/EEC of 27 July 1976 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to cosmetic products(1) could be amended in order to introduce a meaningful and unambiguous labelling for specific fragrance ingredients with a well-recognised potential to cause contact allergy
in order to ensure adequate information for sensitised consumers, by ensuring that these fragrance ingredients be mentioned in the list of ingredients. Furthermore, the SCCNFP is currently reviewing the scientific data on these ingredients in order to identify safe use levels which will be introduced into Directive 76/768/ECC.
(1) OJ L 262, 27.9.1976.