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Independent researchers

Much scientific research is being done in universities and clinics to look at the effects of fragrance on humans and the environment.

Some of these tests look at individual fragrance ingredients, but many test the effects of fragrance itself – in other words they study the combined effect of the compounds in fragrance, which may be different from the effect of the individual substances. For that reason they may be a better indication of what’s happening in the real-world use of the substances.

Some of these studies are funded by the fragrance industry – this is sometimes declared in the study under “conflict of interest” guidelines. Sometimes the test is done by independent scientists, but the raw data used (for example the amount of a fragrance that might be inhaled) is supplied by the fragrance industry. Other studies are genuinely independent, although it’s not always easy to be sure.

Some of these tests are performed on animals rather than humans, for ethical reasons.  However, animals and humans share many health-influencing pathways. Some tests are performed on tissue "in vitro" ("in glass" - that is, in the test tube) rather than "in vivo" (on living creatures). Some don't directly test the health effects of fragrance ingredients, but test body pathways that suggest health effects (for example tests that show synthetic musks accumulate in human blood, fat or breast tissue). Some of these tests are performed for "pure" research within universities, others are performed because significant numbers of people are presenting at clinics with similar ailments (for example tests done by clinics whose patients suffer from dermatitis or asthma. 

Each individual test taken on its own is a small part of a jigsaw that's putting together a very concerning picture of the health effects of fragrance. 

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