Baby bathwater contains fragrance allergens

July 17, 2009
A team of scientists from the USC has developed a method to detect and quantify the 15 most common fragrance allergens included in soap, gel, cologne and other personal hygiene products. Credit: Llompart et al./SINC

A group of chemists from the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC, Spain) has developed a method to quantify the fragrance allergens found in baby bathwater. The researchers have analysed real samples and detected up to 15 allergen compounds in cosmetics and personal hygiene products.

A team of scientists from the Department of , Nutrition and Bromatology at the USC has developed a method to detect and quantify the 15 most common fragrance allergens included in soap, gel, cologne and other personal hygiene products.

"Applying the method to eight real samples obtained from the daily baths of a series of aged between six months and two years old, we discovered the presence of all the compounds under study in at least one of the samples," co-author of the study published this month in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, María Llompart, explained to SINC.

The scientists found at least six of the 15 compounds in all the samples. In some cases, concentrations were "extremely high", exceeding 100ppm (parts per million = nanograms/millilitre). Some of the substances that appeared were benzyl salicylate, linalol, coumarin and hydroxycitronellal.

"The presence and levels of these chemical agents in bathwater should be cause for concern," Llompart said, "bearing in mind that babies spend up to 15 minutes or more a day playing in the bath and that they can absorb these and other chemicals not only through their skin, but also by inhalation and often ingestion, intentional or not."

New Method to Detect Fragrances

Allergens were able to be detected due to the high level of sensitivity of the method, which for the first time applies the Solid-Phase Micro Extraction (SPME) technique to determining the ingredients of cosmetics and child hygiene products. This technique makes it possible to concentrate and isolate chemical components from a sample by absorbing them into fibres with a certain coating.

The researchers have also employed gas chromatography to separate compounds and mass spectrometry to identify and measure the abundance of each of the fragrances.

European regulations stipulate that the presence of such substances should be indicated on the label of the product when levels exceed a certain limit (0.1 or 0.01%, depending on the type of compound), but some associations believe these limits are excessively tolerant, particularly where child hygiene and baby and child care products are concerned.

More information: J. Pablo Lamas, Lucia Sánchez-Prado, Carmen Garcia-Jares y María Llompart. "Solid-phase microextraction gas chromatography-mass spectrometry determination of fragrance in baby bathwater". Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 394 (5): 1399-1411, julio de 2009.

Source: FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

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not rated yet Jul 27, 2009
Baby bathwater is safe assures fragrance industry

Recent study%u2019s inaccuracies raise undue concern

Fragrance ingredients used in baby bath products are safe.

The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) is aware of a study by researchers at the University of Santiago de Compostela (Anal Bioanal Chem, 2009, 394:1399-1411) but finds the claims about the levels of %u201Cfragrance allergens%u201D found in test samples of baby%u2019s bathwater highly inaccurate.

Fragrance levels detected by the study were extremely low; for example one of the materials detected with the highest concentration, linalool, was detected at 108 nanograms per millilitre. This is an extremely small, trace amount that is one thousand times less than the specified No Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL) for linalool. It is the equivalent of one drop in a swimming pool.

The study appears to demonstrate a new method of analysis for detecting materials; however the weak assumptions using references to children%u2019s health concerns are not appropriate. Scientifically, a baby%u2019s skin barrier is similar to that of an adult, and age is considered when developing safe use levels for fragrance applications.

The study refers to the European Cosmetics Directive, specifically to the list of 26 ingredients identified as potential skin sensitizers in some people, which the Directive states must be listed on product ingredient labels if present in the formulation. The objective of this legislation is to enable consumers to make informed choices about the products they buy and does not suggest that use of the named ingredients is unsafe.

The fragrance industry and its clients work to comply with the Cosmetic Directive and the REACH regulations in Europe. In addition the industry operates under a strict Code of Practice, which includes a set of Standards for use levels defined by expert fragrance scientists and the IFRA Compliance Program which ensures that the Code is adhered to.

The IFRA Code of Practice is distributed worldwide to all member associations and their member companies. It is publically available to governmental regulatory bodies and interested parties. It can be found on the IFRA website:

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