San Francisco Department of the Environment

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," or "phthalates."

Manufacturers are not required to list what chemicals are in their fragrance, so you can’t know for sure if they are harmful. Of the fragrances tested, many contain phthalates, which studies show cause reproductive harm, such as sperm damage and reduced testosterone, and even pre-mature birth.

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

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


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