Safety evaluation of the large number of diverse chemicals used as fragrance ingredients follows a systematic prioritization of data generation and analysis, consideration of exposure and critical analysis of the quality of the available information. In prior publications the research priorities used by the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM), and the methods of exposure estimation used by industry have been summarized. This paper provides details of the approach used by the RIFM Expert Panel (REXPAN), to examine the dermal effects, systemic toxicity and environmental consequences of the use of and exposure to fragrance materials, which allow a reliable determination of safe use under intended conditions. The key to the usefulness of this analysis is the grouping of more than 2600 discrete ingredients into classes, based on chemical structures. Research sponsored by RIFM, data supplied by member companies, and relevant published reports from many sources are all considered during hazard characterization. A discussion is provided of REXPAN's decision tree approach to assessing the dermal, systemic and environmental endpoints and the types and quality of data included. This overall process results in well-documented conclusions which are provided to the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) as the basis for consideration of a new or existing Fragrance Material Standard and to industry for appropriate product risk management actions.
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