Many Cosmetic Products Contain Harmful Ingredients, Study Finds
One out of every three "personal care" products, including dental and cosmetic products, contains at least one ingredient that is classified as a possible carcinogen, and one in 100 contains ingredients that are classified as known or probable causers of cancer, according to a study released Monday by the Environmental Working Group, USA Today reports. EWC researchers surveyed 2,300 people and found that the average adult uses nine personal products daily, and 25% of women use at least 15 products a day, according to USA Today (Weise, USA Today, 6/8). The study "was not based on scientific experiments or testing," but rather a six-month computer investigation which compared the ingredients in 7,500 products against government, industry and academic lists of known and suspected chemical health hazards, according to the Baltimore Sun. The study also found that 89% of 10,500 ingredients used in personal care products have not been evaluated by FDA for safety (Thanh Dang, Baltimore Sun, 6/8). Under law, FDA officials do not have jurisdiction over companies to test personal care products for safety before they are sold. The agency can perform tests only if they can prove in court that a product can cause injury to consumers or is improperly labeled (USA Today, 6/8).
Officials from EWC and 45 other organizations, including the Breast Cancer Fund, Breast Cancer Action and the National Environmental Trust, called for "tighter controls" on the personal care product industry following the release of the study, the Contra Costa Times reports (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 6/8). FDA Spokesperson Kathleen Quinn said, "There are laws and regulations that cosmetics must comply with. Under those laws, we can assure consumers of the safety of cosmetics. This is not something that consumers should be alarmed by." Members of the group said they were not "aiming to scare but to educate people" about potentially dangerous chemicals the products might contain, according to the Sun. Catherine Fisher, Revlon spokesperson, said that she had not seen the study, but that the company "stands by the safety of our products." She added, "As a global company, all ingredients used by Revlon and products manufactured and sold by us are in compliance with both U.S. FDA and European Union regulations" (Baltimore Sun, 6/8). EWG research analyst Sonya Lunder said that the findings "are a cause for concern, not alarm," and that the organization hopes consumers will use the database "to choose their personal care products more wisely" (Contra Costa Times, 6/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.