Quantcast

Contaminated Cosmetics Pose Growing Risk to Consumers

Health + Wellness
Shutterstock

By Scott Faber

A rash of product recalls, government warning notices and contaminated cosmetics may finally push Congress to give our broken cosmetics law a makeover.

This month, a key Senate committee announced a bipartisan plan to consider cosmetics reform legislation this spring and work for its passage by the full Senate this year.


Since 2015, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. and Susan Collins, R-Maine, have been relentlessly pushing their colleagues to take up their bill to give the Food and Drug Administration the power to review the most dangerous chemicals in cosmetics. Their bill has broad support from cosmetics companies of all sizes and public health groups.

Recent events have lent new urgency to the need for reform. Key issues include:

  • Asbestos in kids' products. Experts have found asbestos in cosmetics marketed to kids by Justice and Claire's.
  • Burned scalps. A class-action lawsuit was recently settled by a company making hair relaxers that have been linked to burned scalps.
  • Hair loss. Thousands of women and girls lost some or all of their hair after using a shampoo sold by a celebrity hair stylist.
  • Mercury poisoning. A skin whitening cream was recently the subject of an import alert after the FDA detected mercury in the product.
  • Unsafe hair spray. The FDA also found an imported hair spray that contained methylene chloride, one of the few chemicals currently banned from cosmetics.
  • Eye shadow with coal tar. The FDA recently found imported eye shadows containing coal tar chemicals—including this product and this product.

Last year, The New York Times reported that contaminants such as mercury, lead, bacteria and other banned ingredients were showing up in an alarming number of imported personal care products.

The Times story was based on an FDA letter that revealed imports of personal care products have doubled in the last decade and imports from China have increased 79 percent in the last five years.

In 2016, 15 percent of imported personal care products inspected had "adverse findings" and 20 percent of products the FDA tested in its own labs had adverse findings.

In addition to requiring FDA review of the most dangerous chemicals in cosmetics, the Feinstein-Collins bill also requires companies to ensure that products are produced in ways that reduce the risk of contamination. If contaminated products pose serious risks to consumers, companies would be required to alert the FDA within 15 days.

Whether Congress will pass new cosmetics legislation this year remains to be seen. But the case for reform has never been clearer.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Kissing bug. Pavel Kirillov / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that the kissing bug, which can transmit a potentially deadly parasite, has spread to Delaware, ABC News reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
"Take the pledge today." Screenshot / StopFoodWasteDay.com

Did you know that more than a third of food is wasted or thrown away every year? And that only 25 percent of it would be enough to feed the 795 million undernourished people in the world? That's why today is Stop Food Waste Day, a chance to reflect on what you can do to waste less of the food you buy.

Stop Food Waste Day is an initiative of food service company Compass Group. It was launched first in the U.S, in 2017 and went global the year after, making today it's second worldwide celebration.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

Berries are among the healthiest foods you can eat.

Read More Show Less
Flames and smoke are seen billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral on April 15 in Paris, France. Veronique de Viguerie / Getty Images

When Paris's Notre Dame caught fire on April 15, the flames threatened more than eight centuries of culture and history. The fire evoked shock, horror and grief worldwide. While the cathedral burned, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed determination to rebuild what the French regard as a sacred site.

Read More Show Less
An artist's impression of NASA's InSight lander on Mars. NASA / JPL-CALTECH

Scientists have likely detected a so-called marsquake — an earthquake on Mars — for the first time, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced on Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Hero Images / Getty Images

Across the political aisle, a majority of American parents support teaching climate change in schools even though most teachers currently do not.

Read More Show Less
Priit Siimon / flickr / cc

By Andrea Germanos

Lawyer and visionary thinker Polly Higgins, who campaigned for ecocide to be internationally recognized as a crime on par with genocide and war crimes, died Sunday at the age of 50.

She had been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer last month and given just weeks to live.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

An E. coli outbreak linked to ground beef has spread to 10 states and infected at least 156 people, CNN reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less