Tag Archives: Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010

Student rushed to ER from exposure to Axe Body Spray; School reacts with ban

High school student Brandon Silk  has been treated by his doctors for allergies to Axe Body Spray for a few years. Recent exposure to the fragrance in the hallways of his high school caused him to be rushed to the hospital when his throat swelled causing him to have difficulty breathing. His throat swelled twice before when exposed to the same smell at school. Now his mother is scared to let him go back to school and wants Unilever to disclose the ingredients of the body spray to help determine what is causing his allergic reaction.

Brandon and his mother talked to local TV station WFMZ. Please watch their story and read the article by WFMZ for details….


The Bethlehem Pennsylvania school where Brandon attends has put out a statement to parents on their website urging students not to wear Axe body spray due to Brandon’s allergy.  This is a great gesture by the school. I wonder how it will be enforced and for how long?

I am also scent sensitive and am touched by the reactions of many of the students at that school. Some suggest lobbying Unilever to disclose the ingredients for Brandon by posting to Axe’s Facebook page. Check out a video of reactions of students created by a local newspaper. I love their comments.

Smell Inc supports Brandon’s mom, Rosa Silk, and her quest to get the ingredients disclosed by Unilever. Unfortunately it’s an uphill battle. There is no legislation requiring these cosmetic companies to release the ingredients of the fragrance. The Environmental Working Group has proposed the safe cosmetics act to try to get this changed in the cosmetic industry.

Rosa isn’t the first mom to take on Unilever regarding severe allergies to Axe.  Read about the 2010 lawsuit filled in Indiana from an earlier post here at Smell Inc.

Something must be done. Body Spray, fragrances, perfumes, colognes…. it’s getting more and more obnoxious and it’s affecting others. When did it become trendy to reek? And when will these fragrances be considered second-hand scents and treated with the same regard as cigarette smoke. It’s affecting people the same way.

What are you breathing? Study finds fragrances contain some surprising ingredients

Researchers at the University of Washington tested 25 cosmetic and cleaning products and found that each item contained volatile organic compounds (VOCs) with an average of 17 per product.

The researchers claim that many of the VOC’s are classified by the federal law as hazardous or toxic and some are possible carcinogens. These VOC’s are found in the fragrances of the products.

Companies are not required to list ingredients of fragrances. They are protected by trade secret laws and are self-regulated. The products in this study did not list the VOC ingredients on their labels so consumers have no idea they are present.

The study claims that even products labeled as “green”, “natural” or “organic” also contained VOC’s.

Some of the ingredients that were found were…

Acetone- Used in nail polish remover and as paint thinner

Ethanol- Used in drinking alcohol, fuel and solvents

Formaldehyde- Embalming fluid as known as the smelly liquid from biology class

Acetaldehyde- Found in tobacco smoke and car exhaust

Methanol- used in antifreeze, to make fuel and embalming

1,4 Dioxane- EPA classifies as a probable carcinogen and known irritant

Chloromethane- was used as a refrigerant but discontinued to concerns over toxicity and flammability

Methylene Chloride- used as a paint thinner and degreaser and OSHA considers it a potential carcinogen

See University of Washington Professor Anne Steinemann’s  research page for the complete study.

On a personal note: I suffer from migraine headaches caused by fragrances. I am very grateful that the researchers from University of Washington are doing these studies. I hope some day to figure out which chemicals are causing my neurological reactions. I encourage you to support the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 so that all fragrance ingredients are listed on the labels.

Proposed Legislation to Mandate Listing Fragrance Ingredients in Products

Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) are introducing legislation of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010. This legislation addresses many concerns about what chemicals are in personal care products and suggests that the self-regulation of the cosmetics industry has not been enough. The bill will require that labels of products list the ingredients of fragrances. Ingredients of fragrances have been protected for trade secret purposes and personal care companies have not been required to list the numerous chemicals that can make up a “fragrance”.

It’s no surprise that Smell INC is excited about this legislation. I’ve been wondering which chemicals in certain fragrances are triggering my migraine headaches. If this bill passes and is enforced maybe I can get some answers to my health issues.  This could be a real turning point for my neurological illness.

There are many sides to this legislation…. to be fair, I will post links to many viewpoints including those of the cosmetic companies.

Rep. Markey’s website, has bullet points of the Safe Cosmetics Act  http://markey.house.gov/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=4059&Itemid=125

Cosmetic companies group responds to this bill  http://www.personalcarecouncil.org/newsroom/20100721a

Consumer advocacy group pushing for this legislation  http://storyofstuff.org/cosmetics/

Article from Bryan Walsh for Time.com regarding this issue  http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2010/07/21/cracking-down-on-toxic-makeup/

If you think this bill is a good idea I suggest you contact your congressman/congresswoman and ask for their support.