Musks in Fragrances
May Weaken Immune System, Study Says
Mon Jan 10, 5:02 PM ET
FRIDAY, Jan. 10
(HealthDayNews) -- Synthetic musks that are widely used as fragrances in products such as
soaps, cosmetics and detergents may reduce the body's ability to defend against toxic
compounds, says a study in the January issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.
metric tons of synthetic musks are produced worldwide each year.
research using mussel gill tissue, researchers at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station
found that exposure to synthetic musks inhibited the tissue's natural defenses against toxic
compounds from California mussels. This effect persisted long after the end of the tissue's
exposure to the synthetic musks.
musk levels used in this study were several times higher than those found in the environment,
the study authors noted. However, these musks concentrate in fats, including breast milk, and
remain in human tissue long after exposure. This means that long-term exposure to these
synthetic musks could result in tissue concentrations high enough to impair natural cellular
defenses in humans, the authors suggested.
studies have shown that humans are constantly exposed to musk compounds, routine toxicology
screens have always shown these compounds to be nontoxic. This study's suggestion that they
could harm the body's ability to fight other toxicants certainly merits further examination,"
Dr. Jim Burkhart, science editor for Environmental Health Perspectives, said in a
industry, in a prepared statement, disputed the findings.
fragrance ingredients are safe. The ingredients used to make fragrances have been extensively
researched, and fragrances have a long history of safe use dating back hundreds of years,"
Glenn Roberts, executive director of the Fragrance Materials Association, said.
polycyclic musks (PCMs) are among the most thoroughly researched and tested fragrance
ingredients. Their safety for human health has been extensively tested and affirmed by
numerous regulatory agencies and academic scientists around the world. The results in this
paper do not impact the safe use of nitromusks or PCMs, nor alter their environmental risk
assessment," Roberts added.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency outlines
exposure pathways of hazardous substances.
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