Midgen bill would require cosmetic
By: Bay City News Wire
KPIX TV-5, CBS
April 1, 2005
A North Bay lawmaker is hoping to clean up the
cosmetics industry in California by introducing legislation that would
require special labeling and ban certain chemicals in cosmetics.
Senate Bill 484, authored by Sen. Carole Migden,
D-San Francisco, would require cosmetic manufacturers to report the use of
harmful chemicals in their products to the state, according to Migden's
Currently, the safety of ingredients in
cosmetics is regulated by the industry itself, said Lauren Sucher,
spokeswoman for Environmental Working Group. The group found in a recent
study, however, that 89 percent of ingredients in cosmetics have not been
tested for safety.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires
that any product with ingredients not tested for safety be labeled
accordingly. But until recently, said Sucher, this requirement has not
What is ironic, said Sucher, is that while the
FDA requires that ingredients of a product be safe, the agency does not
define what safe is, leaving it open to the interpretation of individual
companies, or the industry-funded regulatory board, the Cosmetic
Ingredient Review panel. Moreover, if an ingredient is found unsafe,
neither the FDA nor the regulatory board has the authority to keep that
ingredient out of products, said Sucher.
Kevin Donegan, spokesman for the Breast Cancer
Foundation, said that Migden's bill is a good starting point for
"It would add an extra layer of
accountability for cosmetics products,'' said Donagen.
Donagen said that Migden's bill would require
companies to notify the state of potentially dangerous chemicals in their
products, and the state would then maintain a list of these chemicals.
Rather than relying on an industry-funded panel
to decide the safety of chemicals, the bill would look to
"authoritative scientific bodies'' to determine the dangers of
chemicals, said Nick Guroff of National Environmental Trust.
With this bill, the state would be able to force
disclosure on a "largely unregulated industry,'' to allow consumers
to make informed choices, said Guroff.
In a statement about the safety of cosmetics,
the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association reported that "The
American cosmetics industry works closely with the FDA to ensure the
safety of all cosmetics sold in the United State,'' and further said that
the FDA has had "comparatively little need to use its authority
because cosmetics are composed of safe ingredients, and because, when
necessary, the cosmetics industry has acted voluntarily to prevent safety
One instance in which the industry appears to
have faltered is in classifying chemicals called phthalates safe,
according to Donegan. In Europe, two types of phthalates, DBP and DEHP
have been banned because of recent studies that found them to cause
asthma, birth defects and cancer, he said.
The CIR reviewed its 1985 determination that the
chemicals were safe in 2003 and affirmed its original finding, stating
that the amounts consumers were exposed to did not pose a threat.
A separate bill sponsored by Sen. Judy Chu,
D-Monterey Park, would follow Europe in banning the two phthalates.
As part of the campaign for safe cosmetics,
Donagen said that cosmetic companies are being asked to voluntarily comply
with the European regulations as well as inventory dangerous chemicals
with the hope of eventually eliminating them. He said that nearly 100
companies have agreed to the compact so far.
Donagen said that the two bills before the
legislature are a great first step at putting pressure on the industry,
and hopefully bring about change nationally.
"California has been and can be a leader on
health and safety laws,'' he said.