Thursday, January 21, 2010

Synthetic Fragrances and Essential Oils Improved Health and Environmental Criteria

Great news. The two year effort to develop environmental criteria coupled with human health data is now before the USA EPA management for internal review. Official comment is expected next month since the submission was accepted early December 2009. Be assured adherence to the criteria will provide a clear quick pathway to safe fragrances used in cleaning products.

Criteria details- The ETF (Environmental Task Force) which was organized by CleanGredients and EPA's Design for the Environment department, agreed to use specific screens based on the submitted criteria in the as-applied cleaning product for DfE's partners as follows:
1) the DfE General Screen for non-essential oil materials contained in confidential fragrance formulas at or above 0.01%
2) the High Capacity for Biodegradation Screen for essential oils or constituents there of at or above 0.01%
3) the EPI Suite Screen for fragrance materials present under 0.01%

The three screens will serve to drive data collection for higher volume-use fragrance materials and essential oils currently in the market place. This should resolve the data gaps needed for scientific relevance and policy.

Next steps- once EPA favorably responds there is general ETF agreement that two more months will be needed by the supply chain and suppliers to develop a response to their clients on the effect to existing and future formulas. Also, in order for the industry to maintain their current practices and trade secrets, a Trade group will need to build the data base for access. Currently IFRA has just published a list of all tested materials used in perfumery for all applications including cleaning products. Based on formula transparency concerns, IFRA's due paying members will be looking for further Board action.

As clear and easy the three screens will be to use and apply, there will remain complications regarding current market claims by the formulators. For example, playing on emotions and a different scientific basis, essential oils in cleaning products have been promoted with similar benefits as in personal care products. Aside from smelling nice, chemically, essential oils do harm the environment when rinsed down the drain. Technically, the grades that are affordable for cleaning products are not as refined to the safety standards used in Toiletries. There are no replacements for what Nature originally intended and evolved. This misdirection needs to be untangled as many companies "greened" their products with essential oils based on positive consumer cross product conditioning.

A Green Nose caution- the second screen, High Capacity for Biodegradation, was suggested by a special ETF sub-panel to screen perfume material that have little to no water solubility.The chemical make-up of the material still needs to pass other screens. This is not intended to be a dodge for an essential oil that is claimed to be a fixative or provide a physical benefit for a formula.


Erin said...

Hi George,

I'm the Community Manager for Ruba (, a relatively new travel guides and tour reviews site that launched in 2009. While our main focus is on travel, all of us at Ruba are big environmentalists and like to encourage others to be conscientious in their travels - which brings us to why I am reaching out to you.

I'd like to ask you for your thoughts on a blogger challenge we've recently launched to help offset the negative environmental impacts of travel by planting trees for badges placed on blogs. We're calling it the "Ponzi Tree Scheme" because we actually plant a tree not only for each badge placed on a bloggers' blog, but ALSO for each reader who sees that badge, clicks on it, and installs one on their own blog or site! Bloggers can watch their "returns" grow right there on their badge - it automatically updates based on the number of other bloggers who have come along after and planted their own trees. We'd love for you to check it out at: and let us know what you think! If there's any way that you could put a badge up on your blog or in a blog post, we would of course be incredibly thankful.

If you have any questions about Ruba, the Ponzi Tree Scheme, or any other ways we could potentially work together, I would love to connect with you on it! Looking forward to hearing from you.


Erin Kiskis
Community Manager, Ruba

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George Patterson said...

The EPA review for Fragrance Criteria is still being evaluated with a possibility for approval by the end of March 2010. The Green Nose