Toxic Chemical Horrors

It’s a well-known fact by now that the cosmetic we use is more often than not, filled with toxic chemicals. As are most perfumes, makeup, and even more basic items like contact solution. The Environmental Working Group  has been working tirelessly over the last several years to educate the public about not only the fact that these chemicals are out there, but that they are not regulated in personal care products (thanks, FDA). The personal care industry has responded fiercely, knocking back bill after bill proposed to regulate the ingredients of such products, claiming that any such regulation would cause undue economic strain.

Cosmetics Toxic Chemical HorrorsFortunately, there’s something people can do about it, other than switching to safer versions of their personal care products. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) introduced this morning the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, along with Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.). It’s the first attempt in 70 years to regulate the personal care industry, and it’s legislation most believe is long overdue.

The  bill would phase out the more dangerous chemicals used in cosmetics, and would require companies to be more transparent about the ingredients they use. It sounds pretty basic, but don’t expect companies like L’Oreal and Estee Lauder to go down without a fight.

Toxic Chemical Horrors 2 Toxic Chemical HorrorsAnd if You share this, internet will soon be ablaze with people wondering why these things aren’t regulated, why women have to bear the brunt of yet another corporate gamble with public health, and why the HELL anyone ever thought it was okay to put toxic chemicals in baby shampoo.

This is an industry that has been largely self-regulated since the late 1930s. The existing law governing personal care products (the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1938) cedes decisions about ingredient safety to the industry. Under the current law, the FDA can’t require companies to conduct safety assessments. Even more frightening, it can’t even require product recalls. In a recent example, the FDA could not recall cosmetics skin whitening creams that were found to contain illegal levels of toxic mercury.

Recently FDA tested a number of lipsticks from various brands and found lead in every one. Especially discouraging was the fact that the three lipsticks with the most lead are also some of the most popular — CoverGirl, Revlon and L’Oreal.

Toxic Chemical Horrors 1 Toxic Chemical HorrorsStudies say the average woman consumes about four pounds of lipstick throughout her life from eating, drinking and licking her lips. And even though the lead levels found in these products might be “small,” many experts, like Florida’s Department of Health, say there’s “no safe level of lead in blood.” Lead, even in trace amounts, collects in the body over time and gets stored in your bones. For women, this lead is released into the blood at three key times: pregnancy, breastfeeding and after menopause.

In related news, lead (along with arsenic and cadmium) was also discovered in some protein drinks. So bottoms up!

Filed Under: Fashion

Comments (2)

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  1. Max says:

    I think it’s important to remember that not only did this all begin based on the 1950s mindset, as is stated at the 4 min 47 second mark, but so too are the test methods we use to evaluate these chemicals.

    The larger problem we are facing is that we have “tested” and deemed “safe” tens of thousands of chemicals on animals only to find that the some results are not accurate. It’s time to use human-relevant non-animal testing practices as outlined by the National Academy of Sciences report, “Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy in 2007.”

    The potential for chemical reform is quite exciting, but it should be done in a way that doesn’t sacrifice millions of animals (for toxicity testing) in the name of better protection for human health and the environment. We need Congress to mandate and create market incentives to use nonanimal methods and tests.

  2. ForUsToBe says:

    that is why you should write to your local congressman to support these reforms.

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