Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Toxic Chemicals in Cosmetics—Congress to Investigate

Toxic Chemicals in Cosmetics—Congress to Investigate

Women's Voices for the Earth

In the wake of recent scandals involving mercury in face cream, formaldehyde in hair products and lead in lipstick, the House Energy and Commerce Committee has called the first official Congressional hearing on cosmetics safety in more than 30 years. The hearing will take place March 27.

“It’s time for Congress to overhaul the 1938 cosmetic regulations that are utterly failing to protect public health. Personal care products from deodorants, to lotions to baby shampoos contain chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities and other health problems,” said Janet Nudelman, policy director of the Breast Cancer Fund.

“The FDA doesn’t even have the authority to recall unsafe products such as face creams linked to mercury poisoning or hair products with high levels of formaldehyde,” Nudelman said.

In a recent example, the California Attorney General forced the makers of Brazilian Blowout hair smoothing products to warn consumers about exposure to cancer-causing formaldehyde. But just last week, a hidden camera investigation by Good Morning America revealed that 16 of 16 salons failed to notify consumers about the risk.

“There is a war on women happening every day in salons across the country, where salon workers and their clients are being exposed to harmful cancer-causing chemicals, and the U.S. government is powerless to do anything about it. Current laws are incapable of protecting consumers and salon workers,” said Erin Switalski, of Women’s Voices for the Earth.

“We’re pleased the Energy and Commerce Committee is seriously considering regulating the cosmetics industry, which is currently allowed to use chemicals that have hardly been studied at all in personal care products,” said Jane Houlihan, senior vice president for research of the Environmental Working Group. “Getting cancer-causing chemicals and other harmful toxins out of the products we put on our bodies is an urgent public health and consumer rights issue.”

In a Feb. 17 letter to the Energy and Commerce Committee, 50 businesses and 50 environmental groups called for the hearing and urged the Committee to support meaningful regulations that phase out cosmetic ingredients linked to cancer, reproductive or developmental toxicity; create a safety standard for cosmetics; and require full disclosure of ingredients including fragrance and salon products.

These elements are included in the Safe Cosmetics Act, a bill introduced into Congress last year by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).

“We hope this is a moment when Congress can rise above partisan politics as usual and take a step forward to better protect our health,” concluded Cindy Luppi, New England director for Clean Water Action. “Thanks to our legislative champions for leading the charge on this critical health issue.”

President Obama’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year calls for an additional $19 million in funding through user fees to enable the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to more effectively regulate cosmetics, signaling the White House’s acknowledgement that the agency’s current oversight is inadequate to protect consumers.

For more information, click here.

Recycling and general waste plastic wheelie bins awaiting collection for disposal in Newport, Rhode Island. Tim Graham / Getty Images

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. According to The National Museum of American History, this popular slogan, with its iconic three arrows forming a triangle, embodied a national call to action to save the environment in the 1970s. In that same decade, the first Earth Day happened, the EPA was formed and Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, encouraging recycling and conservation of resources, Enviro Inc. reported.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The coal-fired Huaneng Power Plant in Huai 'an City, Jiangsu Province, China on Sept. 13, 2020. Costfoto / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

One of the silver linings of the coronavirus pandemic was the record drop in greenhouse gas emissions following national lockdowns. But that drop is set to all but reverse as economies begin to recover, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
Trending
A grizzly bear killed an outdoor guide in a rare attack near Yellowstone Park. William Campbell / Corbis / Getty Images

A backcountry guide has died after being mauled by a grizzly bear near Yellowstone National Park.

Read More Show Less
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) re-introduces the Green New Deal in Washington, D.C. on April 20, 2021. Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

By Brett Wilkins

In the latest of a flurry of proposed Green New Deal legislation, Reps. Cori Bush and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday introduced the Green New Deal for Cities Act of 2021, a $1 trillion plan to "tackle the environmental injustices that are making us and our children sick, costing us our homes, and destroying our planet."

Read More Show Less
Offshore oil and gas drillers have left more than 18,000 miles of pipelines at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Offshore oil and gas drillers have discarded and abandoned more than 18,000 miles of pipelines on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico since the 1960s, a report from the Government Accountability Office says.

Read More Show Less