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Safer cosmetics bill addresses harmful ingredients in personal products

June 24th, 2011

From Green Right Now Reports

Here’s a mind-boggling figure: The cosmetics industry uses 12,500 unique chemical ingredients in personal care products.

Peacekeeper, a "clean" cosmetic

That could leave you thinking, “Wow, what a wonderful world of wrinkle-abating, skin-smoothing, eye-enhancing stuff we have at our fingertips.”

But there’s another view: That such a vast pool of ingredients has left the door open to many that are harmful to human health. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics notes that many ingredients in personal products have been linked to cancer, fertility issues and other health effects. The CSC has fought against lead in lipstick and formaldehyde in hair straighteners, two obvious chemicals of concern. But the group has pointed out that there are many additional risky chemicals hiding out in everyday products, and that the U.S. should install stricter regulation.

Today, three elected officials stepped forward with a plan to do that, introducing the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011.

Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), said they hope to close oversight gaps and loopholes in federal law that allow personal products makers to use just about any ingredient they want, and not have to disclose all ingredients on labels.

“The growing number of reports of serious health problems arising from the use of dangerous chemicals in personal care products show a need to update our laws and protect men, women, and children from harmful exposure,” said Rep. Schakowsky in a statement.

“Currently, manufacturers are not required to disclose all their ingredients on labels and the FDA has no power to supervise the use of toxic chemicals in cosmetics. Americans are left in the dark about harmful mystery ingredients in personal care products; consumers deserve confidence that the products that they use will not hurt them.”

Friends of the Earth lauded the move, because the bill would require manufacturers to reveal when they are using nanoparticles, which FOE maintains can cause harm in the human body and have been too little studied to be safely used in consumer goods.

“Nanomaterials have the potential to be toxic to our environment and bodies, yet store shelves are full of products that use these ingredients,” said Ian Illuminato, health and environment campaigner for Friends of the Earth. “The nanomaterial provisions in this bill will guarantee the right of the public and regulators to know how and where companies are using these risky ingredients. Ultimately, we believe that cosmetic products containing nanomaterials should not be sold.”

If you think your U.S. Representative should support the Safe Cosmetics Act, you can prompt him or her at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

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