CALL TO ACTION! Join our Safe Cosmetics Week of Action June 18th-26th: Tell L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble and Estee Lauder to stop opposing safe cosmetics legislation and pledge to make safer products!
We need your help to give toxic cosmetics a safety make-over!
Join thousands of people across North America in demanding that some of the largest cosmetics companies in the world, including L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, and Procter and Gamble, stop opposing safe cosmetics legislation in California and elsewhere. Urge them to join a growing list of more than 100 other cosmetics companies that have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. This pledge commits them to phase out chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other health problems in their products and to replace them with safer alternatives within 3 years.
GET MORE INFO AND GET INVOLVED:
Why Take Action?
The Problem: Toxic cosmetics in need of a safety make-over!
loopholes in federal law allow the $35 billion cosmetics industry to put
unlimited amounts of chemicals into personal care products with no required
testing, no monitoring of health effects, and inadequate labeling requirements.
Of the more than 10,000 chemical ingredients in personal care products, 89
percent have not undergone safety testing. A recent study by the Environmental
Working Group revealed that a third of 7,500 cosmetics and personal care
products assessed contained chemicals that are linked to cancer. Some
chemicals found in a variety of cosmetics - including phthalates, acrylamide,
formaldehyde and ethylene oxide - are listed by EPA and the state of California
as carcinogens or reproductive toxins.Consumers use as many
as 25 different cosmetics products in a day and up to 70% of what is applied to
the skin is believed to be absorbed into the body. Many of these chemicals have
found their way into our bodies, our breast milk and our children. And
diseases linked to synthetic chemicals - including breast cancer, testicular
cancer and reproductive problems - are on the rise.
In fact, just last week, scientists studying the effects of hormone-mimicking chemicals on humans have reported that compounds called phthalates, used in plastics and beauty products and widely found in people, seem to alter the reproductive organs of baby boys. See the LA Times story at the end of this email for more information.
The Solution: Safer products and smarter laws to protect our health from toxic chemicals!
The Compact for Safe Cosmetics
Products we use on our bodies should be safe for our health and that of our families. The good news is that many forward thinking cosmetics companies have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, a pledge to phase out toxic chemicals from their products and replace them with safer alternatives. More than 100 cosmetics companies have already made this commitment and more are joining every day. Find out more about which companies have signed the Compact and the chemicals in your products at .
Safe Cosmetics Legislation
Cosmetics industry representatives recently lobbied aggressively to block two pieces of safe cosmetics legislation in California. One, which would have banned the use of phthalates in cosmetics, was killed as a result of this shameful lobbying effort. The other, which requires disclosure of cancer-causing chemicals and reproductive toxins in product ingredients, is still alive despite industry’s attempt and will be voted on later this year. This kind of lobbying shows a clear lack of commitment to protecting their customers’ health.
Unfortunately, companies including L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Procter & Gamble and many others have so far refused to sign the Compact for Safe Cosmetics and recently lobbied against these two new important bills.
Let Estee Lauder, L’Oreal and other companies know the future of cosmetics is clean, green and healthy! We need your help to convince them to sign on to the Compact for Safe Cosmetics and stop opposing efforts to pass smarter laws to protect our health from toxic chemicals!
the fight for safe, poison-free cosmetics and bodycare products June 18th -26th!
Learn more and sign up to take action locally: .
Our website has everything you’ll need to take action locally and make a huge difference globally!
some friends and talk with the counter staff and/or manager of your local
department store cosmetics counter or cosmetics store*
*Leaflet outside of the store to educate others about toxic chemicals in cosmetics*
*Gather petition signatures*
*Print our ad and post around your town*
You can also read about the latest campaign developments, find out other ways to get involved and get more info on the campaign at .
Please feel free to contact us for help planning your event and for information about the campaign. Visit our website to find a contact person in your region: .
By Marla Cone
Times Staff Writer
Los Angeles Times
May 27, 2005
Scientists studying the effects of hormone-mimicking chemicals on humans have reported that compounds called phthalates, used in plastics and beauty products and widely found in people, seem to alter the reproductive organs of baby boys.
In the first study of humans exposed in the womb to phthalates, the researchers, who examined the genitalia of male babies and toddlers, found a strong relationship between the chemicals and subtle changes in the size and anatomy of the children's genitals. Phthalates are ubiquitous compounds used as softeners in plastics and to maintain color and fragrance in beauty products such as nail polish and perfume, among other uses.
It is the first time that scientists have shown that any industrial compound measured in mothers' bodies seems to disrupt the reproductive systems of their babies.
But many experts, including the authors of the report published today in the online version of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, say that more research must be done to determine if the genital abnormalities in the boys lead to fertility or health problems and to prove that they are caused by phthalates.
The findings were based on tests of 85 mothers and sons, averaging nearly 13 months of age, born in Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Columbia, Mo. Mothers with the highest levels of chemicals in their urine late in their pregnancies had babies with a cluster of effects. The span between anus and penis, called anogenital distance, was comparatively short, and the infants had smaller penises and scrotums and more instances of incomplete descent of testicles.
Medical experts do not know whether babies with those physical characteristics will later develop reproductive problems. But in newborn animals, laboratory studies show that that combination of effects can lead to lower sperm counts, infertility, reduced testosterone and testicular abnormalities when they mature.
"In rats, it's called the phthalate syndrome. What we found for the first time is evidence for this syndrome in humans," said Dr. Shanna Swan, the study's lead researcher and a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. "Animals [exposed to phthalates] definitely have decreased testosterone, so it is likely that this is happening in humans too."
The study is the strongest evidence yet that man-made chemicals in the environment can feminize male babies in the womb.
Yet scientists say a larger study of babies should be conducted, and that they should be followed into adulthood to see whether they develop low sperm counts or any other reproductive problems.
"It's such an important observation, you'd like to see this done again with more children and another population," said Earl Gray, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reproductive toxicologist whose research has found that phthalates feminize male rodents.
"And we would like to see what the consequences are when they reach adulthood," Gray said. "We don't know the significance of this effect on the children later in life, but we do know the effect on rats."
"The main thing is this is a very small group of subjects. It is too early to say whether there are long-term effects, and whether this [anogenital] measure is important or not in humans," said Dr. Catherine Mao, a co-author and pediatric endocrinologist at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
Reproductive biologists say that a shorter anogenital distance is a female-like effect in animals, a telltale sign of decreased male hormones, and that it is likely that the human effects are similar, because hormones function the same in animals and people.
If a child has a shorter anogenital distance, "you are very likely going to see changes in every other aspect of masculinization as well," said Frederick vom Saal, a reproductive toxicologist at the University of Missouri at Columbia.
Toxicologists have known since the early 1990s that some pesticides and industrial compounds, including phthalates, can mimic estrogen or block testosterone, the female and male sex hormones that control reproductive development. While they have found effects on the genitalia of laboratory animals and wildlife, they have been uncertain whether exposure to the fake hormones affects humans.
Some medical experts suspect that chemicals are responsible for reduced sperm counts that have been reported in much of the developed world, as well as increases in testicular cancer and cryptorchidism, or undescended testes. Three previous studies of men, two in the Boston area and one in India, linked phthalates to low sperm quality.
Swan, who is among the world's foremost experts on the effects of contaminants on the male reproductive system, reported in the late 1990s that a review of sperm counts in developed nations showed a substantial decline since World War II, when many synthetic pesticides and industrial compounds were produced. Also, in 2003, she found lower sperm quality in men exposed to widely used agricultural herbicides.
Swan said her team found "a cluster of small genital changes" associated with low-dose exposure to four phthalates.
One of the most important findings was that the phthalate levels associated with the genital changes "were not unusually high" for the general population, according to the study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the EPA.
Nearly everyone in a 1999-2000 survey of 2,500 people throughout the United States had phthalates in their urine, and the effects in the babies were seen at concentrations below those detected in the urine of 25% of them, according to the results of the testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some scientists specializing in reproductive health say that finding anatomical changes in infants related to a chemical is disturbing, even if their health is not shown to be affected.
But Marian Stanley, manager of a phthalates panel at the American Chemistry Council, said the authors did not report any negative health effect on the babies, and that the differences in their genitalia have "no known significance" and could be caused by natural variability, not chemical exposure.
"As of now, the authors have yet to demonstrate that their data are solid, or that they are meaningful," Stanley said.
Several scientists ruled out the Chemistry Council's assertion that the results could be due to natural variations in boys. Kim Boekelheide, a professor at Brown University's department of pathology, who studies the testicular effects of phthalates on animals, said the associations between the chemicals and the babies' genital effects "are strikingly strong. Overall, this is a very important study."
Boys exposed to the highest levels of the chemicals were 4 to 10 times more likely to have the genital changes. The Los Angeles-area mothers were patients of prenatal clinics at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Swan emphasized that none of the abnormalities was serious enough to be considered birth defects.
Dr. Larry Lipshultz, a professor of urology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said there is no "normal" anogenital length for boys. It is measured often in lab animals, and sometimes in girls, but rarely in boys.
"Is the effect really a significant effect?" Lipshultz said. "The difference is in millimeters. The problem is that no one has ever done this before. It is interesting and suggestive, but until larger populations are studied, it does not prove that phthalates are causing these effects in male genitalia." The boys were not all the same age, varying from 3 to 26 months, and even though the researchers tried to correct for that, it could have made the comparisons of genitalia imprecise, said Dr. Rebecca Z. Sokol, a professor of gynecology and medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at USC.
"The importance [of this study] is there is an anatomic abnormality which might be associated with in utero exposure to phthalates.... But there are a lot of unanswered questions in this study," Sokol said.
The Food and Drug Administration has said there is no evidence phthalates are unsafe. Manufacturers are not required to notify consumers when phthalates are in their products, and their use is unregulated in the United States. Europe, however, has banned them in baby toys and cosmetics.
The California Senate is expected next week to hear a bill that would require cosmetics manufacturers to disclose to state health officials whether their product contained carcinogens or reproductive toxins. Another bill to ban phthalates and another compound called bisphenol A in children's products is pending in the Assembly's Appropriations Committee.
Mao said she feared overreaction by the public in seeking a ban on phthalates. "What we need to have is more data," she said. "I don't think we should remove these products yet. Some things we use to substitute for them may be worse."
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