Reading the Standards

Given their intended audience, some of the information presented can seem confusing or hard-to-understand for non-experts. We believe it is important to keep the information brief and relevant for a technical audience - but also to give a wider audience the chance to understand what information is in a Standard, and why.

Here is a short explainer of the key information contained in a typical Standard:

Basic information: the chemical name of the fragrance material, any synonyms, an illustration of the molecular structure, and the CAS, or Chemical Abstracts Service, number - a unique identifier applied to different chemical structures.

It is important to note that 'chemicals' do not only mean laboratory creations. They include fragrance materials from the natural world too.

History: a summary of IFRA's assessments of the fragrance material, including when the material is due for further review based on the latest scientific understanding.

Recommendation: the type of Standard being applied:

  • Prohibition (a ban)
  • Restriction (allowing use only at certain levels or in certain products)
  • Specification (adding rules such as purity criteria)

Restrictions: maximum permitted concentration levels of the substance in different product types. The product types are set out in the Standards guidance documents.

Critical effect: why we are taking action and issuing a Standard - this is the health effect that we seek to avoid through a Prohibition, Restriction or Specification.

Nearly 500 years ago, Swiss physician and chemist Paracelsus expressed the basic principle of toxicology: “All things are poison and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison.”

That is why we sometimes apply a Prohibition (when evidence shows that it would be difficult to ensure safe use at any relevant level) and sometimes a Restriction or Specification (when evidence shows that a material is safe to use, but within limits).

RIFM summaries: additional information provided by the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials, reporting on its studies and findings.

Rationale / conclusion: additional explanations by the independent Fragrance Safety Panel.