Governor Signs Nation's First Law on
Chemicals in Cosmetics
New California Law Requires Disclosure of Toxic Ingredients
OAKLAND, Calif., Oct. 10 - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill
Saturday that will require cosmetics manufacturers to disclose which of
products contain chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive harm or
developmental toxicity - a first-ever accounting of companies using
potentially damaging ingredients, and a first-line protection for
The newly passed bill, the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005, was
vigorously opposed by an industry accustomed to free rein when it comes
to ingredient safety.
Environmental Working Group (EWG) researchers today offer California
consumers a preview of cosmetic companies and products that face
exposure through this bill. In an assessment of ingredients in 7,500
care products, EWG uncovered 155 products that contain known or
suspected carcinogens or reproductive and developmental toxins. These
products are manufactured by Avon, Grecian Formula, Wet 'N Wild and
other companies, and span a diverse range of products from nail polish to body creams and lip balm.
The Safe Cosmetics Act will require manufacturers to disclose to the
Department of Health Services (DHS) ingredients in their products known
by the state to cause cancer or birth defects, and would authorize DHS to
investigate the health impacts of these chemicals. The law will also
companies to divulge hidden, harmful ingredients in fragrances and
"The protections in this act buttress a federal cosmetic safety
leaves consumers at risk," said Jane Houlihan, vice president for
EWG. "It may be legal for companies to use cancer-causing chemicals
products, but now, in California, consumers will have the unique right
know about potentially harmful ingredients."
Although our investigations have uncovered known, toxic ingredients used
by the mainstream cosmetics industry, we found that what is not known
about ingredient safety is just as troublesome. Our research shows that
11 percent of the 10,500 cosmetic ingredients catalogued by the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been publicly assessed for safety by
the FDA, the industry's internal safety panel (the Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel) or any other publicly accountable institution. FDA lacks
the authority to require premarket safety tests of cosmetics, and the
industry has free rein to use any chemical in their products, save nine
chemicals banned or restricted by FDA in its 30-year history of cosmetic
"Our hope is that the threat of public exposure in California will
companies to switch to safer formulations, not only in California but
nationwide," said Houlihan. EWG's investigation of 7,500 personal
products, including a searchable safety database for consumers, is at
SB 484 was supported by a wide range
of public health organizations, including Catholic Health Care West and
advocates for Asian-Americans health services, as well as organized labor.
The vast majority of California salon workers are of Asian descent.
The author of SB 484, Senator Carole
Migden (D-San Francisco), applauded Governor Schwarzenegger’s action:
“This is the strongest bill in the nation to protect cosmetics consumers.
It will go a long way to protect public health.”
Schwarzenegger signed the law
against a backdrop of new science related to chemicals in cosmetics. The U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that exposure to certain
phthalates—compounds that are used in many cosmetics products—is
increasing. A recent study for the National Study for Environmental Health
Sciences linked higher phthalate exposure by pregnant women to birth defects
and developmental problems in infant boys. Though these health affects have
long been established in animal studies, recent research has shown that even
very low levels of the compounds can impair reproductive development and cause
“The chemical industry opposed
this bill as though it were a peasant revolt rather than a right to know
bill,” said Igrejas, Andy Igrejas, Environmental Health Director of the
National Environmental Trust. “Now we’ll find out what they were so afraid
Over 20 California cosmetics
manufacturers supported SB 484. Two-hundred companies, including Neways,
Burt’s Bees and The Body Shop, have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, a
pledge to replace hazardous ingredients with safer alternatives within three
years, circulated by the national Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.