The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Contaminated Cosmetics Pose Growing Risk to Consumers
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.
- Contaminated cosmetics. The FDA continues to find cosmetics contaminated with bacteria, including a body wash, face powders, shadows and lotions.
- Eye shadow with coal tar. The FDA recently found imported eye shadows containing coal tar chemicals—including this product and this product.
- Eyeliners with lead. The FDA continues to intercept eyeliners containing an ingredient called kohl, which can contain significant lead levels.
- Unsafe colors. Many cosmetic products contain banned color chemicals, including shampoos, cleaners, temporary tattoos, and "Piggy Poop" soap.
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.
- Non-Stick Chemicals Used in Pans, Food Wrappers Linked to ... ›
- Household Products Cause as Much Air Pollution as Cars ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Tara Lohan
In 2017 the Thomas fire raged through 281,893 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, California, leaving in its wake a blackened expanse of land, burned vegetation, and more than 1,000 destroyed buildings.
By Danielle Nierenberg and Katherine Walla
As the holiday season ramps up for many across the world, Food Tank is highlighting 15 children's books that will introduce young eaters, growers and innovators to the world of food and agriculture. Authors and organizations are working to show children the importance — and fun — of eating healthy, nutritious and delicious food, growing their own produce, and giving food to others in need.