The global demand for fragrances has continued to grow with no anticipated end in sight. Fragranced products are ubiquitous and often found in our homes, cars, and even in our children’s toys. However, this omnipresence of nice-smelling chemical compounds, has attracted the interest of regulators, which in turn has also heightened concerns from various industry associations as well.

In recent months, there have been heated conversations regarding fragrances and more specifically essential oils. While there is currently no concrete regulatory framework in place, it is worth exploring the possible directions and varying positions in public discussions today.

There are concerns being aired that changes in EU policies might pose a threat to the sole existence of essential oils on the market. Industry-authored worst-case scenarios depict a regulatory framework in which fragrance chemicals will be heavily impacted and their placing on the market will become either impossible, or strictly regulated due to the application of new hazard classes and a change in approach to the classification of essential oils. An example of this can be seen in the note prepared by The International Federation of Essential Oils and Aroma Trades (IFEAT):

Authors of the paper also foresee a change in the way in which essential oils will be classified, with particular focus on presence of individual substances within the product, instead of looking at the oil as a complete chemical.

On the other hand, there are indirect responses being issued by other stakeholders, such as European Environmental Bureau, advising that no fundamental change shall be expected to the regulations and that classification rules should remain virtually unchanged:

Of course, with products like essential oils there always appear a question as to why they need to be regulated at all, why is there scrutiny being applied – after all they are often of natural origin and have been used for years. The ubiquitous use of the fragrance products is the reason why, in 2022 the Health and Safety Authority in Ireland issued an article: indicating a 300% growth of accidents involving reed diffusers between 2015 and 2021:

The wide-ranging compliance check that followed, discovered that usually products are properly labelled on the outer packaging, however inner bottles usually fail to display the hazard and precautionary information. This is alarming since the outer packaging is often thrown away and lack of information on the inner bottle might impede emergency response in cases of accidental exposure. HSA also emphasizes to consumers the importance of reading the label before purchasing household products. Since there are no new provisions in place at this point, H2 will continue to monitor the situation with particular focus on the change in regulatory framework and keep customers informed.