The Consumers’ Foundation has found formaldehyde, plasticizers and allergens in common fragrance diffusers, and called on the government to introduce safety regulations.
The foundation said it randomly tested 13 diffusers purchased at hypermarkets, grocery stores and cosmetic stores in Taipei and New Taipei City, as well as on e-commerce platforms, in November and December last year.
The results showed that one of them contained 60 parts per million (ppm) of formaldehyde, which is a typical chemical that causes indoor air pollution and has been listed as a carcinogen and a teratogen by the WHO, the foundation told a news conference in Taipei yesterday.
Photo courtesy of the Consumers’ Foundation
Another product was found to contain more than 10,000ppm of diethyl phthalate (DEP), which is primarily used as a plasticizer, the foundation said.
Although phthalates can serve as a fixative in perfumes and other fragrance products, recent studies have found that large-scale, long-term exposure to the chemical compounds might increase the risk of breast cancer, endometrial cancer and other cancers related to female hormones, as well as reduce male fertility, the foundation said.
In addition, nine samples were found to contain allergens listed in EU regulations regarding cosmetics, including hydroxycitronellal, coumarin, cinnamaldehyde, linalool, limonene and ionone, which might trigger allergic reactions such as sneezing, a rash or shortness of breath in certain people, it said.
Seven samples were found to contain galaxolide, or “synthetic musk,” which is a persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic substance according to the European Chemicals Agency’s assessment, it added.
The labeling of two of the products purchased on e-commerce platforms also did not comply with regulations, it said.
According to the Commodity Labeling Act (商品標示法), the “competent authority” of the municipal, county or city government should notify the manufacturer or the importer to rectify the issue within a given time limit. Those who fail to do so would face a fine of NT$20,000 to NT$200,000 per time until the rectification has been made, it said.
The foundation said it has sent a letter to the Ministry of Economic Affairs last year suggesting that diffusers should be regulated, as the volatile compounds they emit could enter the human body.
It called on the government to introduce regulations on diffusers as soon as possible and require businesses to label all ingredients, to allow consumers to make informed choices.
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