Departamento del Medio Ambiente de San Francisco

When I see "fragrance" listed on the ingredients of a product should I be concerned?

Maybe. Try to look for products that do not contain "fragrance," "perfumes," "parfum", or "phthalates."

Of the fragrances tested, many contain phthalates, which studies show cause reproductive harm such as sperm damage, reduced testosterone, and even premature birth. Manufacturers are not required to list what chemicals are in their fragrance, so you can’t know for sure if no harmful chemicals are present.

Using the Precautionary Principle as a guide, avoid products that contain the word “fragrance” in the ingredients to avoid potential harm.

Additional Resources

Breast Cancer Fund’s FAQs About Phthalates (PDF)
Natural Resources Defense Council 2007 Study on Phthalates in Air Fresheners (PDF)
Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Hazard Rating System for Fragrances
Sixclasses: Phthalates
Campaign for Safer Cosmetics
Partners: Tips to Avoid Fragrance Exposure


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