Environmental News Service
Chemicals in Cosmetics Untested

Jun 09 '04

LOS ANGELES, California (ENS) Most cosmetics and other personal care products sold in the U.S. contain chemicals that have never been assessed for safety, according to a computer-assisted investigation by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The California office of the research group has released results of a study of 7,500 brand-name products that for the first time lets consumers learn what chemicals are in their soap, shampoo, toothpaste and other products.

The report finds the majority of ingredients in personal care products have not been assessed for safety and cautions that of those that have been studied, some are listed by government agencies as known or probable carcinogens or reproductive toxins.

In light of its findings, EWG filed a petition Tuesday with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to assess the safety of scores of products that may be adulterated, and to declare as misbranded hundreds of products containing ingredients the industry's own self-policing safety panel has found lack sufficient data to be considered safe.

"This news is cause for concern, but not alarm," said Jane Houlihan, EWG's vice president for research. "Studies to understand the potential health impacts from low-dose lifelong exposures to chemical mixtures like those in personal care products have yet to be done. In the meantime, consumers can use our online, interactive product guide to choose personal care products that pose fewer potential risks."

A survey of more than 2,300 people conducted by EWG and five other public health and environmental organizations found that the average adult who responded uses nine personal care products daily and is thus exposed to 126 chemicals every day.

Of the 10,500 chemical ingredients used in personal care products, only 11 percent have been safety assessed and the assessments were not conducted by government officials, but by a panel funded by manufacturers.

The cosmetic industry polices the safety of its own products: the Food and Drug Administration cannot require safety testing of ingredients or products before they are put on store shelves and into our bodies.

EWGs report can be found at: http://www.ewg.org. It provides product rankings of known and probable health hazards associated with ingredients in each of the 7,500 products assessed, including information on ingredients linked to cancer and reproductive harms.

For safe products see Safe Products without controversial ingredients

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