Toxic Chemicals in Cosmetics: New Legislation to Prevent Exposure

For Immediate Release

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

Shannon Coughlin, 415-336-2246; (Breast Cancer Fund)

Toxic Chemicals in Cosmetics: New Legislation to Prevent Exposure

New Bill in Congress Would Reform Law on Toxics in Personal Care Products

the first time in 70 years, Congress is poised to close the gaping holes
in the
outdated federal law that allows chemicals linked
to cancer,
birth defects, learning disabilities and other illnesses in the products we use on our bodies every day.

Today, Reps. Jan Schakowsky,
D-Ill., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., introduced the Safe
Cosmetics Act of
, (HR 5786), which gives the Food and Drug Administration
authority to
ensure that personal care products are free of harmful ingredients.
law, passed in 1938, granted decision-making about ingredient safety to
cosmetics industry.

"Harmful chemicals have no
place in the products we put on our bodies or on our children's
bodies," said Rep. Schakowsky. "Our cosmetics laws are woefully out
of date-manufacturers aren't even required to disclose all their
ingredients on labels, leaving Americans unknowingly exposed to harmful
ingredients. This bill will finally protect those consumers."

According to the Campaign for
Safe Cosmetics, Americans use an average of 10 personal care products
each day,
resulting in exposure to more than 126 unique chemicals-not counting the
many undisclosed chemicals in "fragrance." Toxic exposures from
personal care products add to our daily dose of hazardous chemicals from
water, food and other consumer products.

"The cosmetics industry
says the amounts of potentially toxic chemicals in their products are so
that they carry no risk, but we know that for some chemicals small doses
have big effects," said Maryann Donovan, Ph.D., an expert on
environmental exposures and biological effects from the Center for
Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.
"We need to better understand the short- and long-term health effects
resulting from small doses of toxic chemicals, repeated daily exposures,
during fetal or infant development, and exposures to mixtures of
chemicals in
personal care products."

provisions of the legislation would:

  • Phase out
    ingredients linked to cancer, birth defects and developmental harm
  • Create a
    health-based safety standard that includes protections for children, the
    elderly, workers and other vulnerable populations
  • Close labeling
    loopholes by requiring full ingredient
    disclosure, including the constituent ingredients of fragrance and
    products, on product labels and company Web sites
  • Give workers access
    to information about unsafe
    chemicals in personal care products
  • Require data sharing
    to avoid duplicative testing and
    encourage the development of alternatives to animal testing
  • Provide adequate
    funding the FDA Office of Cosmetics
    and Colors so it has the resources it needs to provide effective
    of the cosmetics industry
  • Level the playing
    field so small businesses can
    compete fairly

Rep. Markey
applauded the bill: "From lipstick to lotion, our medicine cabinets are
filled with cosmetics that may contain potentially dangerous chemicals.
important bill closes a gaping hole in our Federal laws that allows
dangerous chemicals to remain in the cosmetic products we use every

Rep. Baldwin concurred: "Scientists are
linking chemicals in personal care products to cancer, learning
and other widespread health problems in our society. I am proud to
to common-sense legislation that says it's time to ensure the products
use are safe."

To help
generate support for the
legislation, today the Campaign
for Safe Cosmetics also launched The
Story of Cosmetics
a 7-minute video produced by Annie
Leonard and Free Range Graphics,
creators of the viral hit The Story of Stuff, which has been
viewed more
than 12 million times. In the new film, Leonard reveals
the toxic side of the beauty industry and explains that
not the choices we make at the store, but the choices made behind the
- by industry and the government - that
affect the health of our families. The
film concludes with a call for viewers
to support legislation aimed at ensuring the safety of cosmetics and
care products.

there are cancer-causing chemicals in baby shampoo and mercury in skin
you know the regulatory system is broken," said Janet Nudelman of the
Breast Cancer Fund and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. "Industry
just isn't working. The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 recognizes that
consumers have a right to safe personal care products, that companies
have a
responsibility to understand the health effects of the chemicals in
products, and that we need government to helps us get there."


The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a coalition of more than 100 nonprofit organizations working to protect the health of consumers and workers by eliminating dangerous chemicals from cosmetics. Core members include: Clean Water Action, the Breast Cancer Fund, Commonweal, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition and Women's Voices for the Earth.

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