The following is one chapter from a 1997 Graduate Student Research Project conducted at the University of South Florida. The project involved locating published peer reviewed studies which have shown various environmental and chemical exposure factors can cause learning disabilities, hyperactivity and other disorders by damaging the delicate brain growth process in the unborn child during pregnancy.
Author: Richard W. Pressinger (M.Ed.)
Fragrance Exposure Causes
SOURCE: Neurotoxicology, Volume 1:221-237, 1979
One fragrance chemical used in perfumes, colognes, soaps, detergents and cosmetics has been found to damage brain tissue in the laboratory animals tested. The compound, called acetyl ethyl tetramethyl tetralin (AETT), was commonly used in the above mentioned consumer products until scientists realized the chemical demonstrated serious neurotoxic properties. In fact, the chemical was in widespread use as a fragrance component in cosmetic, toiletry and soap products for a period of 22 years before the problem was detected. The first laboratory evidence of a problem came after researchers detected repeated percutaneous exposure to AETT in rats resulted in an extraordinary blue discoloration of the skin and internal organs, followed by behavioral changes and degeneration of the white matter in the brain. Upon realizing the potential harm from this compound, the fragrance industry voluntarily discontinued its use. This action was accepted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) early in 1978.
In an attempt to further quantify the exact nature of the neurotoxic properties of AETT, detailed testing of the compound was conducted by Dr. Peter S. Spencer and colleagues at the Program for Environmental Neurotoxicology and Teratology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. According to Dr. Spencers research,
Three groups of rats were exposed to AETT on their skin or via food at different doses for a period over several months. Summarizing the results the researchers stated,
Regarding the physical effects upon the brain, the researchers observed degeneration of the "myelin sheath" that surrounds the axons that connect brain cells. As stated by the researchers,
In conclusion, the researchers stated,
Although AETT was subsequently removed from consumer products, it dramatizes the potential for neurotoxic compounds to be allowed in public use as it took 22 years before the problem was acknowledged and corrected. Because of the ubiquitous nature of fragrance compounds and their close source contact to the individual, and therefore the embryo and fetus, a cautious attitude concerning fragrance compounds during pregnancy should be maintained.
Drs. Peter S. Spencer, Arnold B. Sterman, Dikran Horooupian, and
SOURCE: Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, Volume 75:571-575 (1984)
Musk Ambrette is the name given to a commonly used fragrance ingredient, that according to researchers, causes serious brain damage in laboratory animals exposed to the chemical.
Musk Ambrette, whose chemical name is 2,6-dinitro-3-methoxy-4-tert-butyltoluene, is a common fixative ingredient that is currently added to fragrances in order to slow their evaporation, thereby making it more attractive to the consumer. It is found within most fragrances at a level of 1 to 3.5%. The chemical is also used to a lesser extent as an artificial flavor in compositions such as cherry, nut, spice vanilla, and mint.
The neurotoxic properties of Musk Ambrette are well established and as stated by the researchers,
Primary demyelination means that the insulative myelin sheath surrounding the nerve cell connections are slowly being worn away. Degeneration of the axons means the actual connection from brain cell to brain cell is being destroyed by the chemical.
Drs. P. S. Spencer, M. C. Bischoff-Fenton, O.M. Moreno, D. L. Opdyke, R. A. Ford