Safety Assessment Program

Person looking into microscope studying and evaluating ingredients

RIFM’s comprehensive safety assessment program follows the process in our peer-reviewed Criteria Document and covers 8 critical endpoints in human health and environmental science for each fragrance-producing ingredient in use by the industry.

RIFM evaluates all existing data and real-world consumer exposure to determine conditions of safe use for consumers, focusing on genotoxicity, repeated dose and reproductive toxicity, skin sensitization, photoirritation and photoallergenicity, and local respiratory toxicity.

RIFM also sponsors testing and academic research, in collaboration with international research organizations, to assess the behaviors of fragrance ingredients and their associated risks.

The RIFM Safety Assessment Process

Endpoints that RIFM covers:

RIFM’s computational chemists lead the fragrance safety evaluation processes using these methods:

  • Clustering – organizing of materials
  • Read-across – the organizing of materials through clustering and studying them allows scientists to
    learn how to use data from one material to accurately predict how similar materials may affect human
    health and the environment

The above has helped RIFM scientists assess thousands of ingredients, while alleviating the need to test ingredients in animals, an important animal-alternative methodology.

Find out more about RIFM’s computational chemistry program

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Genotoxicity refers to the rare potential of a substance to alter or damage genetic material (DNA). RIFM scientists test for 2 genotoxic properties of an ingredient: mutagenicity and clastogenicity.

Mutagenicity refers to an ingredient’s potential to cause mutations in DNA that may result in permanent change. Clastogenicity refers to an ingredient’s potential to cause breaks that can lead to deleted or rearranged chromosome sections.

Genetic integrity is paramount to our health and any fragrance ingredient found to be genotoxic will be banned for use by the fragrance industry.

Find out more about RIFM’s genotoxicity evaluation and research

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Because fragranced products are used repeatedly over time, RIFM has long been dedicated to ensuring that ingredients do not have any cumulative effect on human health.

Most fragrance ingredients have a low total aggregate systemic exposure. The Threshold of Toxicological Concern (TTC), which is the third step in our Criteria Document , provides RIFM with an efficient and scientifically sound way to evaluate and help ensure the safe use of fragrances. Using the TTC can save time, money, and most importantly, animals. Since RIFM began using the TTC in 2013, more than 265,000 animals have been saved.

Read more about RIFM’s repeated dose evaluation and related research

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Skin is the body’s largest organ and the site of the greatest exposure for most fragrance ingredients. This is why RIFM focuses on understanding the potential for an ingredient to induce skin sensitization (a rare allergic reaction, such as red, bumpy, or itchy skin).

The Threshold of Toxicological Concern for skin sensitization, or dermal sensitization threshold (DST), is a level at which no appreciable risk of skin sensitization is expected for an untested chemical. DST is an essential tool for skin sensitization.

Find out more about RIFM’s skin sensitization program and research

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Maintaining healthy skin is important to overall human health, especially when it comes to exposure from the sun. This is why RIFM studies photoallergy, the potential for strong light to react with fragrance ingredients to create an allergic reaction.

Find out more about RIFM’s collaborative efforts to refine the prediction of photoallergens

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A particularly fragrant scent might make it seem like there is a lot of the fragrance ingredient in the air, but this is rarely the reality.

The inhalation exposures for over 99% of fragrance materials are below the most conservative Threshold of Toxicological Concern levels.

Find out more about the odor threshold and RIFM’s respiratory research

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Just as consumers expect their favorite products to be safe for use, there is an equal concern for the safety of the environment. RIFM has programs to make sure that the collective use of fragrance ingredients causes no environmental harm.

Read more about RIFM’s environmental hazard and risk assessments and ongoing related research

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