Acute toxic effects of fragrance products

Arch Environ Health. 1998 Mar-Apr;53(2):138-46. doi: 10.1080/00039896.1998.10545975.


To evaluate whether fragrance products can produce acute toxic effects in mammals, we allowed groups of male Swiss-Webster mice to breathe the emissions of five commercial colognes or toilet water for 1 h. We used the ASTM-E-981 test method to evaluate sensory irritation and pulmonary irritation. We used a computerized version of this test to measure the duration of the break at the end of inspiration and the duration of the pause at the end of expiration. Decreases in expiratory flow velocity indicated airflow limitation. We subjected the mice to a functional observational battery to probe for changes in nervous system function. The emissions of these fragrance products caused various combinations of sensory irritation, pulmonary irritation, decreases in expiratory airflow velocity, as well as alterations of the functional observational battery indicative of neurotoxicity. Neurotoxicity was more severe after mice were repeatedly exposed to the fragrance products. Evaluation of one of the test atmospheres with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry revealed the presence of chemicals for which irritant and neurotoxic properties had been documented previously. In summary, some fragrance products emitted chemicals that caused a variety of acute toxicities in mice.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Gait / drug effects
  • Hand Strength
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Perfume / toxicity*
  • Posture
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / chemically induced*
  • Tremor / chemically induced


  • Perfume