Featured, Scent Marketing

RIFM provides insight to Scent Marketing professionals

Written by Jennifer Dublino, on July 7th, 2010

Ladd Smith, president of the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM), has offered an “open for questions” period during which industry members can submit their most burning questions and concerns. The intention is for RIFM to better understand the need of our constituents and for us to have temporary access to one of RIFM’s technical experts and the large amount of information and data that RIFM holds in it’s database.
Ultimately, we would like, as scent marketers, to work with RIFM to develop plans to offer a special membership category for our industry so these benefits become permanent and the new members can showcase the RIFM logo as an indication that we do the best possible to ensure safety and compliance in everything we do.
Here are the first questions, please feel free to submit your own.

A question from Elma Klitsie, BrandVisionaire, Singapore:
IFRA’s Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA) is based on dermal sensitization. However, one of RIFM’s priority research area is Respiratory – to understand and manage exposure. As most of our products/solutions have negligible skin contact, how would RIFM/IFRA assess the safety of fragrances used in our products/solutions? Currently, the best fit is Category 11.

The answer from Ladd Smith, President, Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM):
Yes, the best QRA fit might be category 11; however, the existing QRA was developed for dermal exposure.  The real world situation is an “incidental” exposure situation, form a dermal standpoint.  Interestingly, only inhalation exposure is only about 10% of the dermal exposure, based on consumer product use.

Another question from Elma Klitsie, BrandVisionaire, Singapore:
Is it really possible to get allergic reactions or chemical sensitivities upon inhaling fragrances? If it is, is RIFM going to assess the threshold/limits of these potential “allergens”? As the concentration of the fragrance upon application/operation is greatly dependent on airflow and volume of space, how can this be measured?

The answer from Ladd Smith, President, Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM):
It is possible to have a true allergic reaction – that is, one that involves an immune response – from inhalation exposure.  Unfortunately the data are sparse and only sporadic case studies have been reported in the peer-reviewed literature.  That is one reason RIFM has designed several investigations – to differentiate dermal from inhalation sensitization, and to develop an assay to detect inhalation sensitization potential.  The method is a 3-cell co-culture, which allows fragrance to be delivered in an atmosphere over the cells, then looks for cellular inflammatory mediators as indicators.  Feasibility studies have been completed and presented at professional meetings, and experimental results are expected at the end of 2010.  This also addresses alternative methods, which do not use whole animals, as required in Europe.
RIFM membership supports all the activities relevant to these questions.

A question from Robert Mueller-Gruenow, SCENTCOMMUNICATION/Germany:
Each scent composition has an MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) and/or IFRA statement.  But how would you say that labeling is necessary or recommended when pure oils are completely nebulized for scenting environments (e.g. in stores), as the amounts per cubic meter are extremely low? What would be the risk, if there are Xi, Xn and N labeled components in there?

The answer from Ladd Smith, President, Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM):
It is true that there is an MSDS for a material, or a product.  And suppliers “certify” their formulations through an IFRA statement or other means.
Labeling requirements are from laws and regulations.  And the majority of the time, they are based on hazard, that is, the potential of something to cause harm.  It is a descriptive term, but does not take exposure into consideration.  So in order to “comply” with labeling laws, companies must indicate materials which have been shown to have the potential to cause certain effects, such as sensitization (that is, harm).
The industry, RIFM and IFRA, work on a risk or safety evaluation principle.  This factors in exposure since the “dose determines the poison” and the amount is quite important, even recognizing that a material has a “hazardous” property.  For example, table salt is an extreme eye irritant, but if it is in a container, and no exposure occurs, the hazard is mitigated and the risk is quite low.
Unfortunately, these judgments are seldom contained in regulations, as it is much easier for a government agency to take action based on hazard.
When IFRA sets a Standard for limitation of exposure to a material, it is based on the RIFM Expert Panel’s assessment of both hazard and exposure.  This results in a safety (or risk) assessment.  In addition, the IFRA Code of Practice (publicly available at www.ifraorg.org) has an appendix which details the process the Expert Panel uses.  This is done so that a company can follow the guidance to arrive at a “certificate of compliance,” using a risk-based approach.

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