The scent of chemicals

Feature story - February 10, 2005
When you buy a gift for a loved one you don't expect that it might come with a dose of harmful chemicals. But if you are buying certain perfumes this Valentine's day that's exactly what you'll get.

Love is.......ensuring you're not contaminated! Take action for strong European chemical laws.

We tested 36 well know brands of perfumes for two potentially hazardousman-made chemical groups: phthalate esters and synthetic musks. Boththese types of chemicals can enter the body and may cause unwantedhealth impacts. They are also harmful when released into theenvironment. Virtually all the perfumes tested contained thesechemicals with high levels being found in brands like Calvin Klein's'Eternity for Women,' The Body Shop's 'White Musk' and Jean PaulGaultier's 'Le Mâle.'

Otherbrands contained low levels of these harmful chemicals. Puma's 'JamaicaMan' had one of the lowest levels of the musks tested and GloriaVanderbilt's 'Vanderbilt' contained no detectable phthalates. Thedifferent levels of chemicals shows there is room for discussing thephase-out of these chemicals with perfume manufactures.

Chemicals out of control

Perfumes are the latest consumer products tested by Greenpeace toexpose how common the use of toxic chemicals is in everyday products.We are using the results to show how current laws on chemicals areinadequate. A new chemical law being discussed in Europe is vital toset a worldwide precedent on the strong effective control of chemicals.

While better chemical control should be welcomed by all, it is underattack from predictable quarters. The chemical industry has been scare-mongering with exaggerated claims of job losses and declining profits.It has also recruited dirty industry's best friend, the BushAdministration, to threaten Europe with a World Trade Organisationlawsuit if it dares to try and cut toxic pollution.

We are countering the negative industry lobbying by pressuringcompanies to demonstrate that they can do without toxic chemicals inproducts. The list of companies setting a good example by substitutinghazardous chemicals for safer alternatives is growing - Ikea, H&M,Marks & Spencer, Nokia, Samsung and Puma are leading the way.Adidas, Unilever and Sony are heading in the right direction.

Consumer power is vital in changing these companies and you can check our products databaseto help you avoid toxic chemicals in your shopping basket.

Get involved:

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Send a valentines card with a difference to spread the word and get people taking action.

You can add your voice for strong European chemical law to counter industry lobbying. (Also in Ceski | Deutsch | Español | Français | Italiano | Magar | Nederlands | Polski)

Check the online product database to see which companies and brands are toxics free and who are not:

English | French | Spanish | Dutch | Italian (pdf file)

Get Informed

Read the press release for a summary of the chemicals tested and amounts found or the full report for the complete picture. Full testing details from the lab report.

Background on the Chemical Crisis and our campaign for a toxic free future.

Intro to the upcoming EU chemical law (REACH).

BushGreenwatch: Administration Steps Up Pressure on EU to Weaken Proposed Chemical Laws.

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