American Chemistry Council Responds to Report on Air Fresheners from Natural Resources Defense Council

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The American Chemistry Council refutes a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council that suggests some air fresheners which contain phthalates may cause health problems.

Today, the American Chemistry Council responds to claims made by the Natural Resources Defense Council suggesting that some air fresheners may cause health problems because they contain phthalates. These claims about air fresheners and phthalates are baseless and irresponsible, the American Chemistry Council said.

"Fair and scientifically sound reviews of consumer products, regardless of who conducts that review, are in the public interest," said Marian Stanley, manager of the ACC's Phthalate Esters Panel, "this study fails on both grounds and doesn't help consumers make informed choices. This report is irresponsible and should be withdrawn."

One particular phthalate is used in many consumer products like air fresheners as a solvent for the fragrances in those products. That same phthalate - DEP, or diethyl phthalate - is also used in personal care products and fragrances. Why? It does the job, but more important, DEP has a very strong safety profile, according to reviews by agencies in the United States and in Europe. Europe's Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products reviewed DEP in 2002 and gave it a margin of safety of 15,000 when used as a fragrance solvent at concentrations up to 50 percent of the fragrance mix (or less than 2% of the total perfume product).

"A person could bathe in two quarts of perfume, every day, containing DEP - and even if all the DEP in the perfume was absorbed, the exposure would still be a level at which no effect is seen in laboratory animals," said Ms. Stanley. "The U.S. Cosmetic Ingredients Review said DEP was safe for use in cosmetics, so the use of this ingredient in air fresheners should not be of any concern."

Scientific lab testing has gotten so sophisticated that it can often detect miniscule amounts of things in products, even at the one part per million level or less. The other phthalates detected by NRDC were found at these miniscule levels - near or below one part per million.

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