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Immune effects of respiratory exposure to fragrance

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I found a research I want to share. Already in year 2007 they found that fragranced products can affect the immune system, respiration and give respiratory diseases and allergy. They found this out the same year I got my asthma, from secondhand smoking and fragranced washing agents used at work.

“Inhalation of the fragrance chemicals, isoeugenol and cinnamal (Isoeugenol (purity >99%) and cinnamal (purity >98%)), by mice resulted in immune reactions in the respiratory tract. This was observed in experiments performed by the RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) of which results indicate that inhalation of some fragrance chemicals could induce unwanted effects on the immune system.

Fragrance chemicals are common ingredients in such consumer products as cosmetics and scented products. Several fragrance chemicals are known to cause allergy after skin exposure, but it is unknown whether inhalation of these fragrance chemicals can cause allergic reactions or other unwanted immune reactions. Till recently, it was assumed that inhalation of fragrance chemicals was harmless for humans, because there was no exposure via inhalation. However, applying fragrance chemicals in scented products used indoors, has changed this.

RIVM investigated the effects of inhalation of isoeugenol and cinnamal, fragrance chemicals that can cause skin allergy. Mice were exposed to the fragrance chemicals via inhalation. Effects on the immune system were measured using a respiratory lymph node assay, which measures cell proliferation in lymph nodes of the respiratory tract. Inhalation of both isoeugenol and cinnamal resulted in stimulation of the immune system of the respiratory tract. The effects of isoeugenol were more pronounced than those of cinnamal. This is in contrast with results observed after skin exposure, after which both these fragrance chemicals were found equally potent in inducing skin allergy. This implies that effects of fragrance chemicals on the immune system depend on the route of exposure.

washing powders, and scented products to improve the smell in homes, offices, cars and stores. The last category contains many different products, for example bathroom sprays, incenses, fragrant candles, and room perfumes. Exposure to fragrance chemicals used in scented products is predominantly via inhalation. For some applications, such as room perfumes, this exposure is chronic, while for others, for instance bathroom sprays, exposure is now and then.

Skin exposure to certain fragrance chemicals can induce contact allergy. The EU Scientific Committee on Consumer and Non Food Products (SCCNFP) has compiled a list with 24 fragrance chemicals that are most frequently reported as contact allergens.

For safety evaluation of fragrance chemicals the major route of exposure is considered to be the dermal route. Currently, exposure via inhalation in safety evaluations this route is not included. However, consumers can also be exposed via inhalation.

2007 TNO (Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research) together with the RIVM has developed a mouse model to assess the respiratory sensitizing potential of chemicals. In this model mice were exposed via the respiratory route on three consecutive days.

The immune response was determined by measuring cell proliferation and cytokine responses in the lymph nodes draining the respiratory tract. In this model, the most pronounced effects were found in the mandibular lymph nodes, which drain the nasopharynx.

To expose mice to these fragrance chemicals two methods of distribution were used: vaporization with maximum vapour pressure or nebulization of aerosols in acetone. Isoeugenol and cinnamal are known human skin sensitizers.

Mice were exposed noseonly to either isoeugenol or cinnamal for 45, 90, 180 or 360 minutes per day on day 0, 1 and 2. Controls were exposed to the vehicle for 360 minutes per day on day 0, 1, and 2. Mice were exposed to the fragrances either via evaporized or via nebulized test material.

Exposure to aerosols of isoeugenol (300 ppm) resulted in toxic effects in the mice that were exposed for 360 min/day. After two days of exposure one mouse died and the other mice displayed several signs of distress. These mice were not exposed to isoeugenol on the third day. Effects of the two days exposure to isoeugenol were assessed on day 5. On the third day two mice died that were exposed for 180 minutes/day for 3 days. The other mice in this group appeared normal.

Toxic effects were also observed after nose-only exposure to aerosols of cinnamal (300 ppm). Two mice died after exposure to cinnamal for 360 minutes/day for 1 day. The other mice in this group displayed several signs of distress.

The fragrance chemicals, isoeugenol and cinnamal, two known skin sensitizers, have been tested in the respiratory lymph node assay to assess their effects on the immune system after respiratory exposure.

The substance is delivered as a mixture of vapour and liquid droplets that will at least lead to local high dose levels due to impaction of the pure substance on respiratory tract epithelium. The size of the droplets (~ 5 μm) prevents them to reach the lower airways and alveoli, though once deposited, the compound can continue to evaporate resulting in significantly higher concentrations in the alveolar air spaces.

Immune reactions caused by chemicals in the lung can also induce other pulmonary reactions. Some chemicals induce a Th1-type immune responses in the lungs, as has been shown in rodent models. Skin allergens such as DNCB (dinitro-chloro-benzene), DNFB (dinitrofluoro-benzene) and picryl chloride were able to induce allergic reactions in the lungs, e.g. laryngitis, pneumotis, and airway hyperreactivity to non-specific stimuli.”  –, RIVM 2007 ‘National Institute for Public Health and the Environment’.

In this pilot research project from 2007 of respiratory exposure of fragrance some of the mice died from inhaling the fragrance chemicals. Even though this research is not ended, and more research is needed to be done it is remarcable that what people spray on themselves, smear on themselves, wash their clothes with, and wash their homes with, fragranced candles, airfresheners and any product holding fragrance can kill mice when they inhale fragrance after only 2 – 3 days.

Something to think about.


Author: Annelie

I like canoeing, photographing, friends, movies, food, humor, and going on trips. I dislike rudeness, dishonesty, violence, nastyness, and people not caring for others. I do not drink much, I do not smoke and I do not do drugs. I love friends who are kind to me and stick with me. If you want to give me a gift, the best gift is to stop smoking and stop using fragranced products. Then you give me health and that dear friend, is the best gift a person can get. It is a gift of love. I got asthma and I am hearing disabled.

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