Hearings on Legislation Addressing Chemicals in Consumer Products Scheduled for This Week
The Legislature this week will hold hearings on bills related to chemicals in cosmetics and children's toys, the Contra Costa Times reports (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 4/19).
Assembly member Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) introduced a bill (AB 908) that would prohibit the sale and manufacture of products containing phthalates -- chemicals added to plastics and other products that some say affect users' health. Chu has said that phthalates can lead to cancer, infertility and birth defects (California Healthline, 4/1). The bill was expected to have its first hearing in the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday (Contra Costa Times, 4/19).
Sen. Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) also has introduced a bill (SB 484) that would require cosmetics manufacturers to report to the Department of Health Services all ingredients that could cause cancer or other reproductive side effects (California Healthline, 4/1). SB 484 will have its first hearing Wednesday in the Senate Health Committee (Contra Costa Times, 4/19).
According to the Times, "It is difficult for anyone to know exactly what is contained in personal care products because ingredients are often lumped together as a 'fragrance' or included in another broad category." However, cosmetic companies say personal care products contain chemicals in amounts that are too small to be harmful.
Environmental groups say that the industry "essentially polices itself and has not done a good job of analyzing the cumulative effect of ingredients," the Times reports.
The Cosmetic Ingredients Review Board, which is funded by the cosmetics industry, is predominantly responsible for overseeing chemicals contained in such products. FDA does not systematically review the ingredients in personal care products before they are marketed. FDA has banned or restricted nine ingredients in personal care products in the last 67 years.
Barbara Brenner, executive director of Breast Cancer Action, said that the Migden measure "is basically a right-to-know bill." Brenner said the issue has become increasingly important in the state because nearly 200,000 people in California are employed by the personal services industry.
Gerald McEwen -- vice president of science for the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association -- said that Migden's bill is an overreaction at a time when the state faces a budget deficit. He noted that manufacturers in California must disclose harmful ingredients under Proposition 65. McEwen called the bills "ridiculous." He added, "It's people making decisions not based on the science but on an irrational fear. This is one of those slippery slopes. What are we going to ban next year?" (Contra Costa Times, 4/19).