Removal of Cancer-Causing Chemicals in Cosmetics Gains Momentum
Revlon, one of the oldest and best known names in beauty and personal care products, has announced it will remove some toxic chemicals from its products. They include some long-chain parabens and some formaldehyde-releasing chemicals.
The news comes against a background of heightened awareness of the dangers of chemicals used in a range of commonly used personal care products. Last month, for instance, Women's Voices for the Earth released a major study called Beauty and the Beast, revealing the health impacts on salon workers of long-term exposure to chemicals in the products they use. Last year, more than 100,000 people signed a petition by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), urging Revlon to make this move.
“We are pleased that Revlon has acted to remove these toxic ingredients,” said EWG executive director Heath White. “Long-chain parabens and formaldehyde-releasing chemicals have no place in everyday cosmetic products. We applaud Revlon for taking these important steps and hope that other companies will follow Revlon’s lead by reformulating their products to remove chemicals that have been linked to serious health problems. The move by Revlon confirms that companies can produce cosmetics products without these troubling ingredients. Today's news reflects real progress, but more reformulation and ongoing review of the science is needed.”
Long-chained parabens, used as preservatives in many cosmetics like lotions, creams and deodorants, have been in the news as endocrine disruptors with links to breast cancer and decreased fertility. Johnson & Johnson agreed to stop using them two years ago but they're still found in many cosmetics under names like propylparaben, isopropylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben.
Formaldehyde is also a preservative, and formaldehyde releasers are designed to interact with water in products like shampoos, conditioners and bubble baths—including those designed for children—to unlock it. It's an allergen and a potential carcinogen, listed on labels as DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea and quaternium-15. Johnson & Johnson has also started phasing out these chemicals.
But while companies like Johnson & Johnson and Revlon have already responded to public pressure, many others have yet to do so. The Story of Stuff Project is leading a campaign to pressure L'Oreal to remove the potentially cancer-causing ingredients as well. Its Campaign for Safe Cosmetics points out that the company is using Ovarian Cancer Awareness to market its products, which include formaldehyde releasers and other ingredients that have links to cancer.
"The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has reviewed the scientific literature on carcinogens and found a whole host of carcinogens, formaldehyde releasers and contaminants in products sold under the L’Oreal, Maybelline and Garnier brands—all owned by L’Oreal," said the organization. "Many of the chemicals L’Oreal uses have already been banned in certain countries, but the company continues to ship toxic formulas to countries with weaker regulations. There is no reason for L’Oreal to put cancer-causing chemicals in its personal beauty products when safer alternatives exist."
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By Governor Jay Inslee
Climate Week this year coincides with clear skies in Washington state for the first time in almost two weeks.
In just a few days in early September, Washington state saw enough acres burned – more than 600,000 – to reach our second-worst fire season on record. Our worst fire season came only five years ago. Wildfires aren't new to the west, but their scope and danger today is unlike anything firefighters have seen. People up and down the West Coast – young and old, in rural areas and in cities – were choking on smoke for days on end, trapped in their homes.
Fires like these are becoming the norm, not the exception.
By Bill McKibben
To understand the planetary importance of this autumn's presidential election, check the calendar. Voting ends on November 3—and by a fluke of timing, on the morning of November 4 the United States is scheduled to pull out of the Paris Agreement.
President Trump announced that we would abrogate our Paris commitments during a Rose Garden speech in 2017. But under the terms of the accords, it takes three years to formalize the withdrawal. So on Election Day it won't be just Americans watching: The people of the world will see whether the country that has poured more carbon into the atmosphere than any other over the course of history will become the only country that refuses to cooperate in the one international effort to do something about the climate crisis.