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78% of non-EU scented products break regs
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01 May 2024 / regulation Print

78% of non-EU scented products break regs

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has found a high non-compliance rate for scented products for sale on the Irish market

Retailers and consumers are urged to check safety information on scented products following a 2023 enforcement project to check the compliance of scented products with EU REACH (registration, evaluation, authorisation, and restriction of chemicals) regulations, along with classifications, labelling and packaging rules.

The scented products include:

  • Room sprays,
  • Pillow mists,
  • Air fresheners, and
  • Diffuser oils.

Room fragrance

These are commonly used to add fragrance to a room, soft furnishings, or bedding or by using an electronic diffuser. Many of these products are classified as skin sensitisers.

These product types were selected by the HAS as they are known to contain hazardous substances, and may have packaging that is attractive to children or confusing for consumers.

The National Poison Information Centre (NPIC) reported 180 calls relating to essential oils during 2021, with:

  • 78% relating to children under 10,
  • 93% involving accidental exposures,
  • 82% involving ingestion, and
  • 28% symptomatic cases.

In the swoop, HSA inspectors assessed 99 products from 51 brands across 30 companies – including importers, distributors and retailers.

More than 50% of the products were imported from outside the EU. 

Overall, 60% of products checked did not comply with the hazard labelling requirements, with this figure rising to 78% for those imported from outside the EU only. 

Hazard pictogram

More than 30% of products were labelled as cosmetics, but should have had a hazard pictogram, signal word, and hazard and precautionary statements.

An essential oil used as a room scent is not a cosmetic and should have a classification, labelling, and packaging (CLP) hazard label.

Others had packaging for hazardous scented products that was attractive to children, and was missing hazard labelling information.

Retailers must ensure that any scented product they sell contains the relevant safety information in line with relevant chemicals legislation, whether the product is sold in store or online.

The HSA said that consumers should read labels carefully, as many products contain chemicals that may be harmful if swallowed, result in skin reactions, or may result in long-term skin sensitisation. 


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