July 20, 2009

Baby’s bath full of fragrance allergens

Researchers in Spain say they have detected 15 of the most common fragrance allergens in the bathwater of babies.

Scientists from the Department of Analytical Chemistry, Nutrition and Bromatology at the University of Santiago de Compostela have developed a method to detect and quantify the 15 most common substances that can produce allergic reactions which are included in soap, gel, cologne and other personal hygiene products.

The researchers used their own technique to concentrate and isolate chemical components by absorbing them into fibres with a certain coating -- to find at least six of the 15 compounds in all the samples. In some cases, the researchers say the concentrations were extremely high. Among the substances found were benzyl salicylate, linalool, coumarin and hydroxycitronellal.

The presence and levels of these chemical agents in bathwater should be cause for concern, bearing in mind that babies spend up to 15 minutes or more a day playing in the bath and that they can absorb these and other chemicals not only through their skin, but also by inhalation and often ingestion, intentional or not, study co-author María Llompar says in a statement.

The study findings were published in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry.