Update on the U.S. EPA Design for the Environment (DfE) Screen for Fragrances



For the past 18 months, RIFM staff, Drs. Anne Marie Api, Daniel T. Salvito and Madhuri Singal, participated as members of the expert, multi-stakeholder Fragrance Technical Committee that informed the development of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Design for the Environment (DfE) Screen for Fragrances. The DfE Screen for Fragrances, a hazard based program rather than risk based, is one of a number of voluntary benchmarks which aims to define safer fragrances for use in cleaning products. On July 1, 2009, the U.S. EPA Design for the Environment Program released the DfE Screen for Fragrances Human Health Criteria.

Started in October 2007, the Fragrance Technical Committee is providing guidance for the selection of endpoints and criteria for the DfE screen. Facilitated by GreenBlue and Clean Production Action, the Committee now includes RIFM and FMA staff, RIFM and FMA member representatives, representatives from other fragrance houses, cleaning product manufacturers, environmental groups, eco-labeling groups, trade associations, third-party reviewers, and government. DfE will continue to apply its current EPA New Chemicals Program-based approach to the environmental fate and toxicity of fragrances. Environmental fate and toxicity criteria will be incorporated into the DfE Screen for Fragrances once finalized by the Fragrance Technical Committee.

Products that carry the DfE logo can only contain ingredients that pass the DfE Screens for Safer Chemical Ingredients. These screens define ingredients that provide good performance in a cleaning product and have the lowest potential toxicity to humans and the environment. Only products which pass the DfE Screens and meet DfE's product-level criteria (such as non-corrosivity) can carry the DfE logo.

According to the official DfE announcement, "The screening criteria for the human health endpoints in the screen apply to all chemicals present in the fragrance at or above 0.01% by weight. DfE's 0.01% threshold reflects a stakeholder-agreed and conservative approach to screening fragrances."

The DfE Screen for Fragrances Human Health Criteria states that the screen applies to: "fragrances used in the following types ofcleaning products:all-purpose cleaners, carpet care products, machine warewash detergents, dishwash detergents, floor care products, manual dishwash detergents, hard surface cleaners, washroom cleaners, hand soaps (non- FDA regulated) and laundry detergents. Product categories outside the scope of this screen include air fresheners, hand soaps (regulated by FDA), and personal care products such as lotions."

Fragrance formulations submitted as part of a candidate cleaning product formulation or in a DfE-recognized product which is up for partnership renewal on or after August 1, 2009 will be evaluated against the DfE Fragrance Screen Human Health Criteria.

We will keep you apprised of further developments as they occur. For information about RIFM's participation on the Fragrance Technical Committee, contact Dr. Anne Marie Api, V.P. of Human Health Sciences at For more information about the U.S. EPA and DfE programs visit the links included here.

Additional Information:
DfE Screen for Fragrances Human Health Criteria
Fragrance Technical Committee
DfE Screens for Safer Chemical Ingredients:
DfE Safer Product Labeling Program
Cleangredients press release