Products linked to infertility ruled safe

A common ingredient found in beauty products, which has been linked to infertility, is still being sold in Australia despite being banned in Europe.

The fragrance known as Lilial or Butylphenyl methylpropional is found in popular hair care products, perfumes and household cleaning materials but experts warn it can harm the reproductive system.

Fertility specialist Dr Alice Huang told AAP that anyone trying to get pregnant should limit exposure to such chemicals.

“We are exposed to chemicals in our environment on a daily basis, some chemicals, such as Lilial, are known as Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs),” Melbourne IVF’s Dr Huang said.

“Some studies show that EDCs can interfere with hormones in the body and could have a detrimental effect on the reproductive system.

“Just as we advise pregnant women, or couples looking to start a family, to avoid smoking, alcohol and unhealthy foods. If planning a pregnancy, it’s sensible to limit your exposure to chemicals in your home, diet and personal care products.”

On March 1, the European Union’s ban on Lilial came into effect after the European Commission found it adversely affects fertility and fetal development.

In Australia, Lilial is used in various everyday products by popular brands including cosmetics giant L’oreal.

US hair care company Olaplex, which is sold in Australia, removed Lilial from its products after the EU deemed it to be unsafe.

“Since January 2022, Olaplex no longer sold products using Lilial in the UK or EU. At Olaplex, Lilial was previously used in small amounts as a fragrance in Ndeg.3 Hair Perfector. It is not an active or functional ingredient,” the company announced earlier this year.

The Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS), which regulates the importing or manufacturing of industrial chemicals, said it does not intend to follow the EU ban despite its hazardous classification.

“To promote the safe use of industrial chemicals, AICIS conducts scientific risk assessments on their introduction and intended use in Australia,” AICIS told AAP.

“The human health risk assessment for Lilial found that chemical warranted hazard classification. A recommendation was made to Safe Work Australia to classify this chemical as suspected of damaging fertility – Cat. 2 (H361f).”

Safe Work Australia said under work health and safety laws, products containing one per cent or more Lilial are considered hazardous chemicals, due to the reproductive toxicity and other health hazards.

Subsequently, the labelling of these products must include relevant pictograms and statements to alert users to the hazards.

It has since added the chemical, including the reproductive toxicity classification, to its Hazardous Chemical Information System.