Sunday, June 10, 2012

Perfume, Preferred But Dangerous


Behind the fragrant fragrance turned out to be a peek at a myriad of threats to health and the environment. How did it happen?
The history of fragrans or fragrances has actually begun since centuries ago. Cleopatra is one of the historical scent fans. Since the pre-Christian era, incense was known, which was then extracted from plants.
The ancient Egyptians used fragrances in burial rituals, in addition to being a social status symbol for the wearer. Greeks believe, fragrances can be a medium of contact with their gods. The Romans captivated the opposite sex through fragrance. But following the collapse of the Roman Empire in the Middle Ages, fragrans were used to cover up the stench of disease.
Europeans know fragrans precisely from Eastern people, for example Arabs. Of those Europeans learned how to refine essential oils into fragrances. Venice was the first city in Europe to start the fragrance trade until it spread to other cities in Europe.
During the XIV century fragrans were more for medicinal purposes. Interestingly, throughout the two centuries after that history recorded an increase in the use of fragrances. Because, many people at that time believed, bathed or soaked in unhealthy water. Open pores make it easier for the disease to enter and infect the body! So, many old people don't take a bath. To cover body odor, perfume is used.
Only after the XVI century did fragrans begin its golden age. At that time many people learned while admiring the "efficacy" of fragrans as fragrances, especially as perfumes. However, only the nobility and the wealthy were able to afford it. The price is expensive because of the difficulty of finding the right solution and the long-term manufacturing process.
The material at that time was mostly obtained from plants or animals. How to make it is considered art with high taste. Until now even that perception is still valid, especially for upper class perfumes which are made in limited quantities or according to order.
Already since the end of the eighteenth century France was known as the center of world perfume. Also for the first time fragrans from synthetic materials were introduced. For example, Chanel No. branded perfume 5 made in France in 1921.
Meanwhile the reputation of fragrans is increasing. Not only as the main ingredient in making perfumes, but also for daily living needs. For example, body care products such as soap and shampoo, home appliances industries such as floor cleaners, food and beverage industries such as candy or syrup, building material products such as wall paint, candles, cigarettes, stationery such as pens, paper, rubber erasers , markers, crayons, and more.
Natural and synthetic
Fragrans are "prickly" for all fragrances. Everything that smells comes from fragrans. According to the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA), fragrans means that all natural and synthetic substances are solely used to smell cosmetic products. So cosmetic products are not limited to perfumes, but also include soap, shampoo, etc.
Because understanding is a lot of weaknesses, opportunities for cosmetics producers in particular and other products are opened. Fragrans are also used in household cleaning materials such as detergents or cleaning solutions for kitchen and food equipment, which unfortunately, will bring health and environmental problems.
Very basic ingredients. Can be from natural or human-made (synthetic). Most natural sources are from plants or animals. After passing through a fairly complicated process such as distillation and extraction, new fragrans are produced in the form of concentrated concentrates. While the synthetic ingredients are from various kinds of chemicals that have been prepared. After passing chemical reactions in the laboratory, concentrates are produced as they did before, but with a new chemical formula.
Although synthetic and natural are not much different, the price of synthetic fragrans is much cheaper, easier to obtain, and has longer durability. Therefore, almost 80% of fragrans producers use synthetic materials. However, the natural one is not left 100%, because there are certain smells that cannot be produced solely synthetically.
There are fragrans that are traded only in the form of "raw" ingredients. Other entrepreneurs then bought it to make perfume, cologne, eau de toilette, after shave lotion, or other cosmetic products. There are also those that add it to soap, shampoo, air freshener, detergent, floor cleaning liquid, etc.
To be easily inhaled, manufacturers usually add solvents or volatile solvents. The most widely used of the hydrocarbon group. Examples are perfume, hair spray, deodorant, nail polish remover, household cleaning liquid, and the intoxicating ballpoint pen. Only in this case the concentration of fragrans is lower than the solvent.
Multimillion-dollar business
The June 1997 edition of American Demographics once reported that the fragrance business was so prevalent. The value is US $ 5 billion! Numbers that don't make sense. However, it can be trusted if examined. This is indeed a populist business. Imagine, from perfume to paper even though fragrant can be there. So, this is indeed a business tempting anyone and anywhere, including Indonesia with a population of more than 200 million people.
The growth of this business in the country will still double. Moreover, regulations are still weak and control is chaotic. Alarming, because the number of consumers is increasing because almost everyone needs and can afford it. That way the problem will increase, especially health and environmental problems.
Unfortunately, there are naughty business people who are oriented to profit only so that the problems borne by consumers or the environment are not their business.
Even worse, the world of business fragrans is practically untouched by the power of law, even in developed countries. For example, America. The FDA has no authority at all to regulate this business. The reason, company secrets.
Indeed, fragrans consist of various mixture of substrate so that each fragrans produces a distinctive and individualistic odor. The FDA only requires manufacturers to include the word "fragrans" in products with a diagram and warning "Caution: the safety of this product has not been confirmed". Similar warnings on cigarette packs.
If the problem arises after the use of the product later on, consumers can sue the producer to the green. The case is civil and is case by case. If the complainant wins, he gets compensation. However, this does not mean that all products must be withdrawn from circulation. The process will be long and it needs further scientific research so that the product content, especially fragrans, is proven to be harmful to health or the environment. That's the rule of the game.
Fortunately, this problem was realized by the fragrans businessmen. Especially the big world famous companies. In order to maintain their image and prestige, the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM) was formed in 1966 and the International Fragrance Association (IFRA, International Association of Fragrans Producers) in 1973.
RIFM is an independent international institution whose main task is researching raw fragrans before being thrown into the market. The test parameters are mainly allergic and phototoxicity tests. The results are sent to IFRA, also published in Food and Chemical Toxicology sheets or can be requested directly on RIFM.
While the task of IFRA recommends the safety of the use of material fragrans for its members, more than 100 companies represent 15 countries. Unfortunately, Indonesia has not been recorded there. Representatives from Asia are only Japan and Singapore. The list of fragrans material that has been recommended in the Industry Guidelines to Restrict Ingredient Usage issue. Since December 1995 there have been 35 materials which are prohibited from use and 53 materials with limited use for certain products.
Skin and nerve disorders
At first glance, their internal regulations are effective, even if they are only based on moral responsibility and do not involve legal force. Honey, the reality is not so! Even though in the RIFM body there is an integrated team involving various independent experts, the selection of materials tested is not those that determine. While the decisive part does not have a solid system to determine which material should be tested because it has the potential to cause problems.
The next disadvantage is the method of testing, which is largely focused on the exposure and effects that arise on the skin. Exposure through the respiratory or gastrointestinal tract is usually not done. Though health problems can also arise through both pathways and the effects are more systemic and chronic.
Weaknesses in the IFRA body also exist. This association has no authority to "punish" its members, and has no right to monitor them if its recommendations are violated. No wonder the problem still appears. Especially health problems.
One RIFM report mentions material losses due to health problems because of the large fragrances. Even though it relates to fragrans that have escaped RIFM. About 35 million Americans suffer from allergic rhinitis, and the treatment costs US $ 8 billion / year. About 1,000 workers must be absent from work due to migraines, and as a result US $ 5 billion has flown. Asthma and chronic lung disease have doubled in the last 20 years.
Many studies show that fragrans have a negative impact on health. In-depth study by U.S. In 1991 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed that acetone commonly used in detergents, colognes, and especially nail polish remover substances can cause symptoms of nausea, dizziness, and be able to suppress central nervous system function, including the brain and spinal cord.
Perfumes are considered pollutants
What is most feared by environmental experts is precisely the impact of pollutant fragrans, in addition to direct environmental pollution due to inadequate processing of industrial waste. In addition to the absence of regulations, it also cannot be recycled and continues to circulate in water (aquatic pollution). In the case of perfume, after evaporating fragrans react with other substances in the air. This reaction produces a new substance that is soluble in water.
In the United States, the issue of anti-Muslim campaigns is rife because the smell is already considered a "pollutant". Not everyone is resistant to the smell of certain perfumes, and sometimes results in health problems. Unfortunately, we cannot ask people to remove fragrances that have already been smeared on their bodies as well as asking people to turn off cigarettes, for example.
Aware of the risk of various health problems, consumers are becoming more careful in using products with fragrances. Manufacturers are no less resourceful. Has been widely circulated on the market for products labeled "hypoallergenic," for sensitive skin ", to" dermatologist tested "," recommended dermatologist ", even" fragrance free ".
That is fine. Because, in the formulation of FDA fragrans is material that is mixed solely to produce odors. Even though fragrans can double. Aside from being a fragrant diffuser, it can also be a preservative. So, even though the manufacturer claims the product is "free fragrans", it actually still contains fragrans in other "masks".
Let alone ordinary consumers, skin doctors or even fragrans experts do not know what is hidden in fragrances even though all the contents on the label have been included, for example. Except for using sophisticated tools such as the very expensive gas chromatography-mass spectrometric analysis.
You can imagine the complexity of this fragrans business world. In developed countries with strong regulations and laws, business fragrans cannot yet be touched. How about the third world countries, including Indonesia?

Dr. Kristijanto Adimoelja, working at the Center for Dermatology and Andrology, University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany
IWD/The Truth Seeker Media

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