Safe Cosmetics Act
The Safe Cosmetics & Personal Care Products Act of 2013 will:
- 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, including the constituent ingredients of fragrance and salon products, on product labels and company Web sites
- 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 the FDA Office of Cosmetics and Colors so it has the resources it needs to provide effective oversight of the cosmetics industry
- Level the playing field so small cosmetics manufacturers can compete fairly
The Need for Federal Safe Cosmetics Legislation
Shampoo, deodorant, lotion, toothpaste, baby powder, after shave – the average American uses about 10 personal care products a day, resulting in exposure to more than 100 unique chemicals. The vast majority of the roughly 12,500 chemicals used by the $50 billion beauty industry have never been assessed for safety.
Many of these chemicals are linked to adverse health effects like cancer, birth defects and other serious health issues. The toxic exposures from personal care products add to our daily exposure to hazardous chemicals from our air, water, food and other consumer products. Cosmetics chemicals have been found in our bodies, breast milk and even the umbilical cord blood of new born babies. New studies show that toxic cosmetic ingredients are ending up in our drinking water, rivers and lakes and even in the sewage sludge spread on our food-producing farm fields.
This is a problem that affects us all.
Who Is Minding the Health and Beauty Aisle?
Most people assume the government, in this case the Food and Drug Administration, regulates cosmetics the same way it does food and drugs to ensure they are safe. In reality, cosmetics are one of the least regulated consumer products on the market today.
Because of gaping holes in federal law, it is legal for cosmetics companies to use virtually any ingredient with no pre-market safety assessment, including chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive and developmental harm, hormone disruption and other adverse health effects. As a result, cosmetics sold in the U.S. contain ingredients and impurities with known health hazards, including lead, mercury, hydroquinone, coal tar, formaldehyde, dioxane, acrylamide, phthalates and even placenta.
The federal law that governs this enormous industry – which is the same size as the biotech industry – is a page long and has not been amended significantly since it was enacted more than 70 years ago.
In the absence of government authority, the safety of personal care product ingredients has been ceded to an industry-funded and self-policing body, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Panel. In the 30 years since its creation, it has evaluated less than 20 percent of the ingredients used in cosmetics – meaning that the vast majority have not been assessed for safety by the FDA, CIR or any other entity.
Even for the few chemicals it does evaluate, the CIR does not look at the cumulative effect of exposures to toxic cosmetic ingredients; the aggregate exposure of cosmetic ingredients in combination with other toxic chemical exposures; the timing of exposure which can magnify the harm, particularly for infants and young children; or worker exposures in beauty salons and manufacturing plants.
Introducing Safe Cosmetics Legislation
In response to growing concern about unsafe chemicals in our cosmetics and personal care products, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) introduced the Safe Cosmetics & Personal Care Products Act of 2013, H.R. 1385. This legislation will overhaul the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act – the law governing the FDA Office of Cosmetics and Colors – giving this office the authority and resources it needs to ensure that cosmetics do not contain harmful ingredients.
Enacting the Safe Cosmetics & Personal Care Products Act of 2013 will protect the health of everyone who uses personal care products, and will also ensure the long-term health of the cosmetics industry by shifting the industry away from toxic chemicals and spurring the innovation of safer products that the world market is demanding.
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