Cosmetics may soon be safer

Most consumers don't know what chemicals are in their cosmetics

Lisa Archer, national coordinator for The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, personal care products contain more than 12,500 chemicals but most consumers don’t know which ones are safe.

That may be about to change.

Three Congressional Representatives – Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois, Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin – have introduced a bill to reform the current outdated law n the use of ingredients in personal care products including cosmetics.

The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, (HR 5786) which would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to ensure that personal care products don’t contain harmful ingredients, would overhaul the existing law, passed in 1938 which allows the cosmetic industry to determine the safety of its products ingredients. Current law creates a kind of like having a fox watch the hen house scenario.

Personal care products can contain carcinogens like formaldehyde

When the organization did its own testing, they found carcinogens like  formaldehyde in children’s bath products and hormone disruptors in fragrances.

The new law, if passed, calls for a phase-out of ingredients linked to cancer, birth defects and other illnesses, a disclosure of ingredients on labels and government testing of products for hazardous chemicals ingredients. It would also create a health-based safety standard to help protect children, the elderly, workers and other vulnerable populations.

The new legislation would also reform the Toxics Substances Control Act of 1978, which governs industrial chemicals under the EPA.

The president and CEO of the Personal Care Products Council, Leslie Westine, responded to the legislation, saying “We are concerned that the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 as written is not based on credible and established scientific principles, would put an enormous if not impossible burden on FDA, and would create a mammoth new regulatory structure for cosmetics, parts of which would far exceed that of any other FDA-regulated product category including food or drugs.”

It will be interesting to see if Congress embraces this new consumer-friendly legislation and, if so, what the final bill will look like or even if it will end up having any teeth in it at all. One can only hope.

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