Right to Know: Exposing toxic fragrance chemicals in beauty, personal care and cleaning products.


In 2017 Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP) set out to investigate to what extent major companies that make beauty, personal care and cleaning products were hiding unlabeled toxic chemicals in their products. We embarked upon this research project because the scientific literature and our prior product testing indicated that chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, endocrine disruption and
other adverse health effects were being used in fragranced beauty, personal care and cleaning products. Yet the lack of any legislatively mandated labeling requirement for cleaning products or fragrance ingredients was leaving consumers in the dark regarding chemicals of concern in the products they bring into their homes every day. What is creating this “buyer beware” situation? A gaping federal labeling loophole combined with a self-regulated fragrance industry allows dozens — sometimes even hundreds—of chemicals to hide under the word “fragrance” on the product labels of beauty and personal care products. The same is true for cleaning products, but with an added dilemma:

No federal law requires the labeling of the vast majority of the other ingredients in these products. The presence of unknown, unlabeled toxicants is cause for serious concern for consumers and workers, because more and more scientific evidence suggests that unsafe chemical exposures in our everyday lives are adding up to harm. This work has demonstrated time and time again that educating the public about the presence of toxic chemicals in consumer products generates demand for safer products. This, in turn, focuses the attention and resources of manufacturers to strengthen the disclosure — and eliminate the use — of toxic chemicals, and subsequently generates the momentum needed to convince elected officials to more strictly regulate these unsafe exposures.