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Congress Targeting Regulation on Cosmetics

Congress Targeting Regulation on Cosmetics
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Currently, very little regulation exists for personal care products such as cosmetics, shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste. Corporations involved in the manufacture and marketing of these products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) like other consumer goods sold at your local pharmacy or grocery store. They reside in a gray area, and while you might not think that the mouthwash you use every morning could be harmful, think again.

While you don’t knowingly use products with harmful ingredients, most contain chemicals which can be detrimental to humans after repeated exposure or excessive use which is what the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, sponsored by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) is targeting. This is the first such bill in 70 years to modify the scope of the FDA to include personal care products and it will be an uphill battle, given the money that corporations have poured into this slice of consumer goods.

Back in 1938, the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act left ingredient safety in personal care products to the cosmetics industry and unregulated by the FDA. No studies, research or analysis is required to put a product on the market.

According to The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, provisions of the legislation would:

  • Phase out ingredients linked to cancer, birth defects and developmental harm;
  • Create a health-based safety standard that includes protections for children, the elderly, workers and other vulnerable populations;
  • Close labeling loopholes by requiring full ingredient disclosure on product labels and company web sites, including the constituent ingredients of fragrance and salon products;
  • Give workers access to information about unsafe chemicals in personal care products;
  • Require data-sharing to avoid duplicative testing and encourage the development of alternatives to animal testing;
  • Provide adequate funding to the FDA Office of Cosmetics and Colors so it has the resources it needs to provide effective oversight of the cosmetics industry; and
  • Level the playing field so small businesses can compete fairly.

Ultimately this law will benefit consumers and provide safer products on the shelves. Hazardous chemical will be eliminated from cosmetics and similar products and be replaced with non-toxic alternatives.

That mouthwash I mentioned earlier? I did some digging on Skin Deep, a cosmetic safety database by Environmental Working Group, which integrates personal care product ingredient listings with more than 50 toxicity and regulatory databases. The database lists more than 60,000 products, including mouthwash. Of the 136 products in this category, 110 pose a moderate hazard to your health. That’s 80 percent of mouthwashes, probably yours among them. To find out more about the products you use everyday and the potential problems, Skin Deep is an excellent resource with in-depth reviews of products and their ingredients.

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