An Environmental Working Group report has claimed that popular brands of perfume and cologne contain numerous hazardous chemicals, many of which are not listed on labels. Heather Sarantis, et al., “Not So Sexy: The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance,” May 12, 2010. The authors commissioned an independent laboratory to test 17 fragrance products and compared the results to the product labels. The data analysis revealed that the products contained, on average, 14 chemicals not listed on the labels; 10 sensitizing chemicals associated with allergic reactions, such as asthma, wheezing, headaches, and contact dermatitis; and four hormone-disrupting chemicals linked to a range of health effects, including sperm damage, thyroid disruption and cancer.

The authors also found among undisclosed ingredients chemicals with troubling hazardous properties or with the propensity to accumulate in human tissues. These include diethyl phthalate, a chemical linked to sperm damage in human epidemiological studies, and musk ketone, a synthetic fragrance ingredient that concentrates in human fat tissue and breast milk. The report recommends that consumers select products with no added fragrance, minimize the use of fragrance, support laws that require the identification of chemicals in personal-care products, and support manufacturers that disclose ingredients in their personal-care products.