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33 Toxic Hair Straighteners Under International Recall Still Sold in U.S.

Posted March 17th, 2014

FDA lags in protecting stylists and customers from cancer-causing formaldehyde in products

March 13, 2014

Alexandra Scranton, alexs@womensvoices.org, (406) 396.1639(406) 396.1639, mobile
Caitlin Copple, caitlin.j.copple@gmail.com, (406) 493.4281(406) 493.4281, mobile
Natalija Josimov, Stylist, talia10021@aol.com
Jennifer Arce, Stylist, jenjenjen27@cox.net

NEW YORK —Thirty-three hair-straightening products contain high levels of the cancer-causing chemical formaldehyde causing them to be recalled in other countries, yet the products remain in the U.S. market, according to new research from the national nonprofit Women’s Voices for the Earth.

Straightening treatments release formaldehyde gas and can cause severe eye, nose, and throat irritation, as well as increased cancer risk. Several leading brands of hair straightening products have been found to contain high levels of formaldehyde (also called methylene glycol). The increased risks to salon workers who offer hair-straightening treatments merits further investigation, said Alex Scranton, Director of Science & Research at WVE.

“Based on sound science, other countries are taking strong measures to protect the health of salon workers and their customers from formaldehyde-containing products,” explained Scranton. “While U.S. government regulations continue to fall short, consumers deserve to know what’s in their products in order to make safer decisions about their hair care.”

Natalija Josimov used to swear by hair-straightening treatments for her own coarse, frizzy hair. When she became a hair stylist in 2009, she said she was thrilled to offer the service to her clients. But just nine months after launching her career, she experienced chronic sinus and respiratory infections, painful blisters in her nose, and heart palpitations—all caused by formaldehyde gas released during treatments.

“I think many stylists performing these treatments are under the mistaken impression that the FDA would not allow these products on the market if they were dangerous,” Josimov said. “It took me doing at least 100 treatments before I realized it was making me so ill, and I still have side effects from it. I can no longer work in salons, but many stylists who are put in the position to choose between their health and their career will choose to keep working, which is why we need to get these products off the market.”

Josimov is part of a growing number of stylists and consumers concerned about toxic chemicals in hair-straightening products and the double standard that allows formaldehyde-containing products to be sold in the U.S., despite being banned by other governments around the world. Stories like Josimov’s led WVE to release a new fact sheet alerting stylists and customers to the international recalls of hair-straightening products.

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), an industry-funded and operated panel that assesses the safety of cosmetic ingredients in the United States, declared that formaldehyde was unsafe to be used in hair straightening products in March 2011.  Click here to link to the CIR’s declaration: http://online.personalcarecouncil.org/ctfa-static/online/lists/cir-pdfs/PR582.pdf.

However no hair straightening products containing formaldehyde have been removed from the market as a result of the CIR’s announcement, even though health agencies in other countries have determined that hair straighteners containing formaldehyde are unsafe for use and removed them from the market.

The FDA lacks the authority to issue a mandatory recall of cosmetic products that have been found to cause health problems to consumers. In fact, the agency has yet to issue a voluntary recall of Brazilian Blowout, the first hair straightener found to contain high levels of formaldehyde.  The original formula of Brazilian Blowout was ordered off the market in California by the CA Attorney General in 2012 for violating California air pollution regulations.

Policy changes need to be made to give the FDA authority it needs to truly protect public health. In the meantime, WVE is calling on the FDA to issue a voluntary recall of Brazilian Blowout in the U.S.: http://www.womensvoices.org/issues/cosmetics-salons/brazilian-blowout/actions/.

See the full list of international recalls of hair straighteners.

Founded in 1995, Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate the toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. With thousands of members across the United States, WVE changes corporate practices, holds government accountable, and works to ensure a toxic-free future for all. Learn more at www.womensvoices.org.


Cosmetics Companies File for ‘Trade Secret’ Status

Posted January 28th, 2014

Move skirts disclosure of toxic chemicals in new California database

January 28, 2014

Alexandra Scranton, alexs@womensvoices.org, (406) 396.1639(406) 396.1639, mobile
Caitlin Copple, caitlin.j.copple@gmail.com, (406) 493.4281(406) 493.4281, mobile

SACRAMENTO—Twenty-two companies have requested trade secret status to avoid telling the public about toxic chemicals found in nearly 1,500 cosmetic products included in the new California Safe Cosmetics Program Database. The database was released earlier this month as part of the state’s Safe Cosmetics Act, which requires companies to report ingredients in their cosmetic products that are considered carcinogens or reproductive toxins under Proposition 65.

Women’s Voices for the Earth’s recent analysis shows that more than 20 companies—including the makers of Dial, Right Guard, Tresemme, Nexxus, Gold Bond, Selsun Blue, and even “green” brands like CHI Organics—are attempting to skirt the intent of the California’s Safe Cosmetics Act by avoiding public ingredient disclosure in the state’s new database.

“Trade secret status should never be allowed to conceal harmful chemicals such as carcinogens or reproductive toxins from consumers,” said Erin Switalski, Executive Director of Women’s Voices for the Earth, a national nonprofit with a track record of convincing companies to disclose and remove toxic chemicals from products women use. “It’s reasonable and prudent for consumers to want to avoid exposure to carcinogens, just as women of reproductive age may well want to avoid exposure to reproductive toxins.”

“We understand and respect the need for companies to have trade secret protections for the few select chemicals needed to a product’s competitive advantage, but we do not believe that these business needs should ever trump public health,” she said.

One example is Shiseido, a manufacturer of skincare, make-up and fragrances sold at popular retailers like Macy’s and Sephora. The company filed for trade secret status on ingredients in nearly 400 products they reported to the state.

Switalski said it’s “highly unlikely” that nearly all 400 products Shiseido reported to the database would have chemicals in them that actually need trade secret protection.

“It appears that they are abusing the system to unnecessarily hide harmful chemicals in some of their products from their customers,” she said.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, of which Women’s Voices for the Earth is a co-founder, also called out the companies requesting trade secret status.

“It’s just plain wrong that companies are hiding chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects under the pretense of trade secrets,” said Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy and co-founder of the Campaign. “Consumers want and deserve full ingredient disclosure.”

Concerned consumers may call the 1-800 number listed on products made by these companies and ask them what ingredients they are hiding from their customers. They can also ask by tweeting the companies by following @women4earth and using the hashtag #nosecrets or tagging the companies in Facebook posts.

The 22 companies that requested trade secret status are:

Alberto Culver

Alberto Culver USA, Inc.

Chattem, Inc.

Colgate-Palmolive Company

Conopco, Inc.

Demeter Fragrance Library, Inc.

Farouk Systems, Inc.

Great Clips, Inc.

Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc.

Lumene Oy

Melaleuca, Inc.

Nars Cosmetics

Regis Corporation

Robell Research

rolland srl

Rowpar Pharmaceuticals, Inc

Schwartzkopf & Henkel

Shiseido America, Inc.

Shiseido Ltd.

Tammy Taylor Nails, Inc.

The Dial Corporation

See an expanded list with company brands.

The California Safe Cosmetics Program Product Database can be accessed at: http://www.safecosmeticsact.org/search/

Founded in 1995, Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. Learn more at www.womensvoices.org.


New Study: Toxic Phthalates Declining in Cosmetics Thanks to Consumer Demand

Posted January 22nd, 2014

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ Advocacy Campaigns Behind Changing Consumer and Industry Behavior

January 21, 2014

Margie Kelly, 541-222-9699, mkelly@breastcancerfund.org
Shannon Coughlin, 415-336-2246, scoughlin@breastcancerfund.org

San Francisco—Exposure to certain toxic phthalates has substantially decreased in the American population according to a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco and published today in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Study authors suggest that the decrease may be due to a federal ban on phthalates in toys, as well as cosmetics companies moving away from the use of these chemicals in response to advocacy efforts led by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Levels of some “regrettable substitution” phthalates are on the rise, however, including one that was recently added to California’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive toxicity.

“Kudos to the millions of conscientious consumers whose concerns about phthalates in kids’ toys and cosmetics are now being credited with helping to decrease the levels of phthalates in people,” said Janet Nudelman, policy director at the Breast Cancer Fund and co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which was established in 2004 out of concerns about the presence of phthalates in personal care products.

Phthalates are industrial chemicals, which soften plastics that are used to make common consumer products including fragrances, cosmetics, plastics, and building materials. Phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals; exposure has been linked to early puberty, a risk factor for later-life breast cancer; reproductive harm in males; DNA damage to sperm and decreased sperm counts; and asthma.

Due to their ubiquity in common consumer products and potential to harm reproduction, phthalates have long been a target of state and federal legislative and market-based advocacy campaigns. In 2008, the Breast Cancer Fund led a national campaign that resulted in a Congressional ban on six phthalates in children’s toys.

That law permanently banned three phthalates: DEHP, DnBP (also abbreviated as DBP) and BBzP. According to the study, the levels of all three have gone down in people. Three other phthalates—DnOP, DiDP, and DiNP—were provisionally banned pending further study. Exposures to these phthalates have increased. Of particular note is exposure to DiNP, which increased nearly 150 percent. DiNP, which was recently added to California’s Proposition 65 list of carcinogens, is widely used to replace DEHP in plastics.

“Trading one toxic chemical for another in an endless and costly parade of regrettable substitutions is unacceptable,” said Cindy Luppi of Clean Water Action, a co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “It’s time for strong laws and corporate policies that make safe products the industry standard.”

Consumer pressure has led more than 1,000 cosmetics and personal care companies to remove some dangerous chemicals, including phthalates, from their products. A 2008 report by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found a marked decline in the use of DEHP and DnBP by the cosmetics industry, compared to the findings of a 2002 Campaign study, which reported 72 percent of shampoos, deodorants, fragrances and other products contained these and other phthalates. Not surprisingly, the study also found a drop in levels of DEHP and DnBP in people.

“Women have historically had higher levels of phthalates in their bodies than men, so the steep decline of certain toxic phthalates in women is a good sign,” said Alexandra Scranton, Director of Science and Research at Women’s Voices for the Earth. “However, we remain concerned that manufacturers may be swapping out high profile toxic phthalates for less well-known phthalates, meaning the potential for harm remains real and more research must be done to protect public health.”

The study, “Temporal Trends in Exposure to Phthalates: Findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2010,” published online today in Environmental Health Perspectives, reports on trends from 2001 to 2010, noting exposure to eight phthalates among 11,000 people who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted by the U.S. Centers Disease Control and Prevention.

“We commend the researchers for this excellent study, which reinforces the important role policy and market decisions can have on reducing the levels of unsafe chemicals in people and protecting public health,” said Nudelman. “Our campaigns to encourage companies to make safer products and to convince the government to pass health-protective laws have clearly paid off.”


 The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a national coalition led by the Breast Cancer Fund, Women’s Voices for the Earth and Clean Water Action who, along with more than 175 nonprofit organizations, work to protect the health of consumers and workers by eliminating dangerous chemicals from cosmetics. Find out more at http://www.safecosmetics.org.

Informe de Chem Fatale Reporta Peligros en los productos de higiene femenina

Posted November 6th, 2013

Disruptores hormonales, sustancias cancerígenas, en los productos químicos tóxicos que se encuentran en los tampones, duchas, toallas y más

Noviembre 6, 2013

Ryann Nickerson, ryann@colorlatina.org,(303) 393-0382,
Alexandra Scranton, alexs@womensvoices.org, (406) 396.1639, mobile
Caitlin Copple, caitlin.j.copple@gmail.com, (406) 493.4281, mobile
**Abajo encontrara fuentes  adicionales

WASHINGTON, D.C.— “Chem Fatale,” un nuevo informe de Voces de las Mujeres para el Mundo (WAVE), detalla cómo la industria del cuidado femenino vende productos que contienen sustancias irregulares y potencialmente dañinas, incluyendo pesticidas, conservantes, fragancias y colorantes. El informe inicia una nueva campaña que se centrará en Proctor & Gamble, fabricante de Tampax y Always, este revela quw los ingredientes de tampones y toallas debe eliminar las sustancias químicas tóxicas, y alienta a los consumidores a exigir una mayor supervisión gubernamental de la industria $3000 millones en el cuidado femenino.

“Los productos para el cuidado femenino no son solo cosméticos porque se utilizan en una parte excepcionalmente sensible y absorbente del cuerpo de una mujer,” dijo Alexandra Scranton, director de ciencia e investigación y autora del informe “WVE. Es muy necesaria tener mayor control, vigilancia e investigación para garantizar la seguridad de sus ingredientes para la salud de las mujeres.”

Los tampones los usan casi un 85 por ciento de las mujeres que menstrúan, y pueden contener dioxinas y residuos de plaguicidas vinculados al cáncer, los disruptores hormonales, alérgenos e irritantes de fragrancelth. Toallitas femeninas, lavados femeninos y productos desodorantes femeninos contienen conservantes tóxicos como los parabenos, que pueden ser disruptores hormonales, o Quaternium-15 y DMDM hidantoína, que liberan formaldehído que causan cáncer.  La mayoría de los productos de cuidado femenino están perfumados y comúnmente contienen fragancia con alérgenos conocidos como productos contra la comezón.  Estos productos químicos a veces exacerban los mismos síntomas que una mujer usa con la intención de auto-tratamiento con estos productos.

Según el informe, las mujeres negras y las latinas pueden ser afectadas de manera desproporcionada por estas sustancias químicas, ya que son los mayores usuarios de productos tales como duchas vaginales y toallitas femeninas. Las mujeres negras tienen más probabilidades de utilizar aerosoles femeninos y polvos que mujeres de otras razas y etnias.

La normativa vigente sobre productos químicos utilizados en los productos de higiene femenina no son suficientes para proteger la salud pública, a menudo no requieren que se divulguen los ingredientes necesarios para evaluar la seguridad. Tampones y toallas están regulados como productos sanitarios, lo que significa que las empresas no están obligadas a divulgar los ingredientes de estos productos. Otros productos de higiene femenina, regulados como cosméticos, deben etiquetar sus ingredientes, pero los ingredientes de fragancias pueden ser mantenidos en secreto a los consumidores.

“Saber es Poder,” agrego Cristina Aguilar, Directora Interina de la Organización para la Justicia Reproductiva para las Latinas en Colorado. “Pero en este caso, sabemos que muchos de los productos más peligrosos que encontramos pueden causar enfermedades crónicas también y estos productos son dirigidos a mujeres de color. La realidad es que saber esto no es suficiente ya que las latinas tienen disparidades de salud, y también  enfrentan barreras financieras, económicas y geográficas para acceder a alternativas seguras.”

La Asociación Americana para la Salud Publica y el Colegio Americano de Obstetras y Ginecólogos (ACOG) recomendar específicamente esta en contra de la limpieza intravaginal (duchas) porque son asociado a resultados adversos para la salud como el aumento de las infecciones bacterianas. El ACOG tampoco recomienda el uso de tampones y toallas perfumadas, así como los aerosoles femeninos y los polvos, para ayudar a prevenir o resolver trastornos vulvares.

“Los productos químicos utilizados en estos productos son una verdadera preocupación ante la inevitable exposición al tejido vulvar y vaginal sensible a la absorción “, dijo el Dr. Ami Zota, profesor de salud ocupacional y ambiental de la Universidad George Washington. “” Hay una clara necesidad de más investigación sobre los efectos en la salud a la hora de exponer la salud de las mujeres.”

El informe también incluye un “Salón de la Vergüenza” apéndice que destaca ejemplos de productos de higiene femenina que contienen productos químicos tóxicos por marca.

Fundada en 1995, Voces de Mujeres para el Mundo amplifica las voces de mujeres para eliminar las sustancias químicas tóxicas que dañan nuestra salud y a las comunidades. Con miembros en todo Estados Unidos y Canadá, WAVE cambia las prácticas empresariales, teniendo un gobierno responsable, y trabaja para asegurar un futuro libre de tóxicos para todos. Obtenga más información en www.womensvoices.org.

Para entrevistas:

Ogonnaya Dotson-Newman, Director of Environmental Health, WE ACT for Environmental Justice
OGONNAYA@weact.org, (212) 961-1000, extension 310

Ryann Nickerson, Communications Director, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR)
ryann@colorlatina.org,(303) 393-0382

Dr. Ami Zota, Professor, George Washington University
azota@gwu.edu, (617) 512.6045

Andrea Donsky, Registered Holistic Nutritionist (R.H.N.), founder of NaturallySavvy.com, author of Label Lessons: Your Guide to a Healthy Shopping Cart, producer of viral “Pads on Fire” video.
andrea@naturallysavvy.com, (416) 315-2398

‘Chem Fatale’ Report Highlights Dangers in Feminine Care Products

Posted November 5th, 2013

Hormone disruptors, carcinogens, among toxic chemicals found in tampons, douches, wipes and more

November 6, 2013

Alexandra Scranton, alexs@womensvoices.org, (406) 396.1639, mobile
Caitlin Copple, caitlin.j.copple@gmail.com, (406) 493.4281, mobile
**Scroll down for additional potential sources

WASHINGTON, D.C.— “Chem Fatale,” a new report by Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE), details how the feminine care industry sells products containing unregulated and potentially harmful chemicals, including preservatives, pesticides, fragrances and dyes. The report kicks off a new campaign that will target Proctor & Gamble, makers of Tampax and Always, to disclose the ingredients in tampons and pads and eliminate toxic chemicals, and to encourage consumers to demand more government oversight of the $3 billion feminine care industry.

“Feminine care products are not just your average cosmetics because they are used on an exceptionally sensitive and absorbent part of a woman’s body,” said Alexandra Scranton, WVE’s director of science and research and author of the report. “Greater scrutiny, oversight and research are badly needed to assure the safety of their ingredients on women’s health.”

Tampons are used by up to 85 percent of menstruating women and may contain dioxins or pesticide residues linked to cancer, hormone disruptors, allergens and irritants from fragrance. Feminine wipes, feminine washes and feminine deodorant products contain toxic preservatives like parabens, which may be hormone disruptors, or quaternium-15 and DMDM hydantoin, which release cancer-causing formaldehyde.  Most feminine care products are fragranced and commonly contain known fragrance allergens—including anti-itch products.  These chemicals sometimes exacerbate the very symptoms a woman is intending to self-treat with these products.

According to the report, black and Latina women may be disproportionately affected by these chemicals as they are greater users of products such as douche and feminine wipes. Black women are more likely to use feminine sprays and powders than women of other races and ethnicities.

“It is well known that black women face health disparities for numerous diseases,” said Ogonnaya Dotson-Newman, Director of Environmental Health for WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “This report highlights how much more we need to know about the potential impact of feminine care product use on black women’s health.”

Current regulations on chemicals used in feminine care products are not sufficient to protect public health, and often don’t require the ingredient disclosure needed to assess safety, according to WVE’s report. Tampons and pads are regulated as medical devices, which means that companies are not required to disclose any ingredients in these products. Other feminine care products, regulated as cosmetics, must label their ingredients, but any fragrance ingredients can be kept secret from consumers.

“Knowledge is power,” added Cristina Aguilar, Interim Executive Director of Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights. “But in this case, we know that many of the most dangerous products that are found to cause chronic diseases also target women of color. The reality is knowledge isn’t enough—Latinas who already have health disparities, also face financial, economic, and geographic barriers to accessing safe alternatives.”

The American Public Health Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) specifically recommend against intravaginal cleaning (douching) and have associated the practice with adverse health outcomes such as increased bacterial infections. The ACOG also recommends against the use of fragranced tampons and pads, as well as feminine sprays and powders, to help prevent or clear up vulvar disorders.

“The chemicals used in these products are a real concern given the inevitable exposure to sensitive and absorptive vulvar and vaginal tissue,” said Dr. Ami Zota, a professor of occupational and environmental health at George Washington University. “There is a clear need for more research on the health effects of these exposures on women’s health.”

The report also includes a “Hall of Shame” appendix highlighting examples of feminine care products that contain toxic chemicals by brand name.

Founded in 1995, Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. With thousands of members across the United States, WVE changes corporate practices, holds government accountable, and works to ensure a toxic-free future for all. Learn more at www.womensvoices.org.

Available for Interviews

Andrea Donsky, Registered Holistic Nutritionist (R.H.N.), founder of NaturallySavvy.com, author of Label Lessons: Your Guide to a Healthy Shopping Cart, producer of viral “Pads on Fire” video.
andrea@naturallysavvy.com, (416) 315-2398

Ogonnaya Dotson-Newman, Director of Environmental Health, WE ACT for Environmental Justice
OGONNAYA@weact.org, (212) 961-1000, extension 310

Ryann Nickerson, Communications Director, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR)
ryann@colorlatina.org,(303) 393-0382

Dr. Ami Zota, Professor, George Washington University
azota@gwu.edu, (617) 512.6045


Maker of Lysol, Air Wick Commits to Disclose Fragrance Allergens

Posted October 22nd, 2013

Reckitt Benckiser first major U.S. company to respond to consumer demands for increased information

October 22, 2013

Cassidy Randall, cassidyr@womensvoices.org, (406) 543.3747, office
Caitlin Copple, caitlin.j.copple@gmail.com, (406) 493.4281, mobile

AirWick Reckitt Benckiser

Parsippany, N.J.—, Reckitt Benckiser (RB) announced today that it would become the first major cleaning product company to disclose fragrance allergens in its U.S. products, a major step forward in breaking the secrecy around fragrance ingredients in household products. This announcement comes less than a year after NGO Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) released the report Secret Scents: How Hidden Fragrance Allergens Harm Public Health that found that tens of millions of people suffer from fragrance allergies. Consumers in the U.S. have virtually no way to avoid chemicals that trigger allergic reactions because federal laws don’t require ingredient disclosure.

Allergens will be disclosed online on product ingredient information pages at www.rbnainfo.com.

Reckitt Benckiser has been disclosing fragrance allergens in Europe for years for its household brands including Lysol, Woolite, and Air Wick. Today’s announcement means that American consumers will finally have the same access to ingredient information as European consumers.

“We applaud Reckitt Benckiser for its leadership in the industry and for finally providing consumers with the information they have been asking for,” said Erin Switalski, executive director at Women’s Voices for the Earth. “People want to know what ingredients are in their products so that they can avoid potentially harmful ingredients to protect their health and that of their families.”

RB’s North American President Alexander Lacik cited the move as part of the company’s strategy.

“Increased transparency and disclosure are key components of RB’s better business strategy and we believe this is the right thing to do for U.S. consumers,” he said. “For over 10 years, we’ve actively reviewed our ingredient portfolio and have taken a proactive stance on disclosure, reduction and removal of chemicals of emerging concern.”

RB’s announcement follows Simple Green’s commitment last February to disclose allergens in products in response to the release of WVE’s Secret Scents report.

Most recently, WVE has highlighted SC Johnson & Son’s double standard of withholding ingredient information in the U.S. that is available to their E.U. consumers.

“We hope that SC Johnson will follow RB’s lead and increase fragrance ingredient disclosure,” Switalski said, noting the organization’s spoof website, www.whatsreallyinsidescjohnson.com, has led to more than 60,000 consumers urging the company to make this change.

RB’s announcement today also included the company’s commitment to removing triclosan from all of its U.S. products.

“Women’s Voices for the Earth has been calling for the removal of triclosan since the release of our Disinfectant Overkill report in 2009,” Switalski said. “Triclosan is an hormone disruptor that has been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. We are so pleased that this toxic chemical will be removed from all RB products.”

Founded in 1995, Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. With members across the United States and Canada, WVE changes corporate practices, holds government accountable, and works to ensure a toxic-free future for all. Learn more at www.womensvoices.org.


Target Focuses Bull’s-eye on Chemicals in Products: Launches New Standard to Promote Ingredient Safety and Disclosure

Posted October 16th, 2013

Consumer Demand for Safer Personal Care Products Driving Major Changes for Nation’s Retailers

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
For Immediate Release
October 16, 2013

Margie Kelly, 541-222-9699, mkelly@breastcancerfund.org
Shannon Coughlin, 415-336-2246, scoughlin@breastcancerfund.org

Target Clean Up Beauty Aisle

(SAN FRANCISCO) Moved by consumer demand for safer products, the retail giant Target is creating a new sustainability standard that will evaluate and rank baby and adult personal care and cleaning products based on ingredient safety and disclosure and environmental impact. Target has asked the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics to collaborate on developing a standard for cosmetic safety in 2014.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics congratulates Target for taking an important leadership role in cleaning up the beauty aisle,” said Janet Nudelman, Director of Program and Policy for the Breast Cancer Fund and co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “By ranking personal care products based on their impact on environmental health, Target is redefining sustainability for consumers and manufacturers.”

Working with Good Guide, Target will rank products based on five criteria, resulting in a score on a 0-100 scale. Ingredient safety and disclosure will make up 70 percent of the overall score. Product ingredients will be cross-referenced against health hazard databases created by scientific authoritative and regulatory bodies. Transparency will be graded on full ingredient disclosure – including the secret ingredients that hide under the generic term “fragrance” – on product labels or manufacturer websites. Ultimately, the ranking will influence which products will be sold in Target’s stores.

While Target’s commitment to ingredient safety and transparency is significant, there is room for improvement. First, Target should commit to making the product scores public, rather than keeping them private, thus providing consumers with critical information that is nearly impossible to obtain but necessary to make informed purchases. Second, greater clarity is needed regarding when consumers will begin to see changes on Target store shelves. It is not yet clear how high a score a product will have to achieve to receive preferred status under the new system. Overall, more work will have to be done to educate consumers about the new standards and how they will affect the safety of the personal care products available on Target’s shelves.

Target’s announcement proves the demand for safe personal care products is being heard and will drive major change in the marketplace by encouraging companies to start being honest about what’s in their products. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to predict Target’s call for greater transparency will shift consumer-buying patterns because people simply do not want toxic chemicals in the products they use on their bodies,” said Nudelman.

Last month, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics supporters around the country submitted comment cards urging Target executives and store managers to clean up the beauty aisle. The Target campaign was a major priority for campaign partner groups including Clean Water Action, Women’s Voices for the Earth, and MomsRising. Clean Water Action members met with store managers across New England, delivering hundreds of comment cards and sharing their stories about family members lost to cancer. MomsRising members alone collected nearly 5,000 signatures that were sent to Target headquarters to support a storewide safe cosmetics policy.

Target acknowledges that consumer demand for safer products led the popular retail chain to tackle the issue of making the personal care products on its shelves safer. Historic shifts by industry giants, like Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble, to eliminate chemicals of concern, and the possibility of greater government regulation of chemicals were other factors leading Target to adopt new standards,” said Nudelman.

Target’s announcement comes just one month after Walmart asked manufacturers to eliminate as many as ten unsafe toxic chemicals from products sold in its stores; Walmart has not yet released its “red” list of chemicals. Target is taking more of a “carrot” approach by creating a ranking system to help its merchandisers guide their purchasing decisions, rather than asking vendors to stop using specific chemicals in products.


The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a national coalition of more than 175 nonprofit organizations working to protect the health of consumers and workers by eliminating dangerous chemicals from cosmetics. Women’s Voices for the Earth is a co-founder and on the steering committee of the Campaign.



Cleaning Companies, NGO Partner to Support Consumer Rights

Posted September 17th, 2013

Manufacturers join Women’s Voices for the Earth to launch No Secrets ingredient disclosure campaign

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 9, 2013

Cassidy Randall, cassidyr@womensvoices.org, (406) 543.3747, office
Caitlin Copple, caitlin.j.copple@gmail.com, (406) 493.4281, mobile

Chemicals linked to hormone disruption, allergies, and even cancer are found in cleaning products Americans use every day, yet most manufacturers keep the ingredients in their products a secret from the public.  A new campaign, “No Secrets,” led by Women’s Voices for the Earth with cleaning product companies that are leading the industry in ingredient disclosure, seeks to create a new standard of transparency in the industry.

“The companies supporting ‘No Secrets’ have nothing to hide in their products,” explained Erin Switalski, executive director of Women’s Voices for the Earth. “Their participation is proof that successful companies can give the public the ingredient information they need without hurting their bottom line.”

To date, 15 cleaning product manufacturers have joined No Secrets.

“Over 70 percent of consumers are concerned about the ingredients that go into the products that they purchase, and about 30 percent are actively looking for safer products,” said Larry Weiss, founder and chief scientist of CleanWell. “These growing consumer concerns cannot be addressed without transparency about ingredients along with evidence-based resources to help consumers understand this information.”

“At Seventh Generation, we’ve always believed that consumers have the right to know what’s in the products they buy,” said Ashley Orgain, manager of mission advocacy and outreach. “That’s why we are proud to link arms with Women’s Voices for the Earth and join the No Secrets campaign to bring transparency to the marketplace.”

Major companies like Clorox and SC Johnson recently began revealing some product ingredients, but still refuse to disclose product-specific fragrance ingredients, fearing a loss of competitive edge. The No Secrets campaign aims to show that many successful cleaning product companies already disclose all ingredients, and to mount pressure on more companies to follow suit. Legislation dubbed the “Cleaning Products Right to Know Act” would require cleaning product manufacturers to disclose all ingredients and is expected to be re-introduced in Congress later this year.

“Consumers have a right to know what’s hiding in household products, which is why I will be reintroducing legislation to require full disclosure of the ingredients in everyday cleaning products,” said Representative Steve Israel (D-NY).  “I applaud the companies joining with the No Secrets campaign and committing to provide consumers with much-needed transparency.”

Women’s Voices for the Earth is a national organization that works to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm women’s health by changing consumer behaviors, corporate practices and government policies. To learn more, visit www.womensvoices.org, find us on Facebook, or follow @women4earth on Twitter.

Additional quotes from No Secrets business partners:

Larry Weiss, founder and chief scientist, CleanWell: CleanWell Company has always listed all of the ingredients in our products either on the product label or the company website. WVE’s No Secrets is a critically important initiative to provide consumers with the information that they need to make smart, informed decisions about the products that they bring into their homes. Over 70 percent of consumers are concerned about the ingredients that go into the products that they purchase and about 30 percent are actively looking for safer products. These growing consumer concerns cannot be addressed without transparency about ingredients along with evidence-based resources so that consumers can understand this information.   With the launch of the No Secrets campaign, WVE has taken a leadership role in driving change towards safer and healthier consumer products.

Christopher Gavigan, founder and chief products officer, The Honest Company: The Honest Company realizes it is critical to give consumers all the facts and commit to complete transparency in communications to help educate them, as well as drive other consumer product goods makers to follow that lead. This group of brands is joining together to show that it shouldn’t take a toxicology degree to read a product label.

Steve Berry, founder of Greenblendz, EcostoreUSA/Greenblendz: Full disclosure will be the standard for all industries in the near future and anything less will be perceived as hiding something. Today’s consumers have and want access to information on what ingredients they are using in their households and for a lot of them allergies and sensitivities demand they monitor the products they use.

Melinda Olson, founder Earth Mama Angel Baby: “Earth Mama Angel Baby is honored to be an inaugural member of Women’s Voices for the Earth’s No Secrets project. Earth Mama has long practiced and lobbied for full ingredient disclosure, and we absolutely agree that it’s the best practice possible to ensure safe products and informed choices for our customers.”

Audra Conklin, founder, Modern Mermaids: “We believe full transparency must become the standard in our industry.  With ingredient disclosure, changes in formulas will follow. It’s important to continually bring attention to those with toxic ingredients to truly ‘clean up’ the cleaning industry.”

Allen Stedman, CEO, Planet, Inc. “Full ingredient disclosure is becoming more important to the public everyday, and we applaud the efforts of WVE and their No Secrets campaign.”

Adam McCarthy, founder/president, Green Shield Organic: “From the very first bottle we shipped, our product ingredients have been disclosed on every label panel. Greenology Products and its brand GreenShield Organic was the first company to lead with complete ingredient disclosure. We have always listed actual ingredient names, not camouflaged non-ingredient terms such as ‘plant-derived, surfactants or bio-based.’ Our mandate has always been to empower the consumer at the point of purchase so she can decide what cleaner products she wants to bring into her home or business.”

Mari Fox, president, Shecology: “Shecology discloses ALL ingredients because every consumer has a right to know what ingredients are in ANY product they purchase and bring into their homes and the health plus the environmental ramifications of their purchases. I feel honored to have Shecology land among the heavy hitters in the natural cleaning products industry banding together for WVE’s No Secrets campaign because my personal and business mission has always been to have a major impact on environmental health.

Tim Barklage, Chief Idealist & CEO, Better Life: “Amazing things happen when you take the toxins out of household cleaners. Better Life was founded with a mission to create household cleaning products which are unmatched in safety and unbeatable in performance. We develop all of our products in-house from the ground up so that we can create the safest and best performing products without compromise. And, all of our products have complete ingredient lists on the bottles – nothing hidden because we have nothing to hide.”

Margaret Foss, owner/founder, Green Clean Solutions: “I am proud to be associated with WVE. I appreciate all the work they do to hold us all accountable to provide safe and non-toxic products to ensure the health of the planet and future generations!”


Failed Cosmetics Law Leaves Stylists Exposed to Toxic Chemicals

Posted September 17th, 2013

New resource helps stylists, manicurists, and customers advocate for safer products

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 12, 2013

Jamie McConnell, jamiem@womensvoices.org, (406) 543.3747, office
Caitlin Copple, caitlin.j.copple@gmail.com, (406) 493.4281, mobile

SAN DIEGO — Bloody noses. Blistering rashes. Piercing migranes. These are just a few of the symptoms veteran hairstylist Jennifer Arce experienced after before diagnosed with chemical poisoning by her physician. The source? A product millions of women use to straighten their hair every day: Brazilian Blowout.

Arce, a stylist in San Diego for more than 18 years, used the experience to organize other affected colleagues to take their stories to California lawmakers and the FDA. Brazilian Blowout has since been banned in the state, but similar hair smoothing products also containing carcinogenic formaldehyde remain on the market. Her next step is distributing a new fact sheet from Women’s Voices for the Earth to salon workers and clients. The fact sheet describes chemicals to avoid in hopes more salons will choose to go green for the health of their customers and stylists.

“Many of my collegues have been bullied, threatened physically, and threatened to be fired for speaking up about being sick or for not wanting their clients exposed to toxic formaldehyde,” Arce said. “Many of us don’t have health insurance. Our health and our livelihoods are being taken away from us and we are not going to let this happen without a fight.”

The fact sheet can be viewed here.

“We hope the fact sheet will educate consumers and workers and inspire them to work for change at the policy level,” explained Erin Switalski, WVE’s executive director. “Salon products are exempt from ingredient labeling requirements, limiting the availability of this important information on chemical exposure, so we are trying to fill in the gaps.”

Like many products containing toxic chemicals, what’s considered good enough for American consumers is banned in the European Union. A recent study by RAPEX, an EU regulatory body, discovered nine keratin hair smoothing products containing high levels of formaldehyde, which resulted in their removal from European markets.  Yet they remain widely available in the US, and several of the products are falsely touted “formaldehyde-free.”

Under current federal regulations, it is legal for cosmetics manufacturers to use unlimited amounts of virtually any ingredient in salon and professional use products, as well as those sold to the general public, including chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive and developmental harm, hormone disruption and other adverse health impacts, with no pre-market safety assessment.

A growing body of scientific evidence indicates there is reason for concern, showing hairdressers are at increased risk of cancers of the lung, larynx, bladder and multiple myeloma compared to the general population. One study has shown that nail salon workers have higher levels of di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP), a reproductive and developmental toxicant, than the general population. Another study found that beauticians and hairdressers are likely to have significant exposure to solvents that are linked to birth defects. Other studies have found cosmetologists are at a higher risk for having spontaneous abortions and low birth weight babies.

As for Arce, she’s considering switching careers. She doesn’t want to stop being a stylist—she loves helping her longtime clients look and feel their best, but her health can’t withstand the constant exposure.


Founded in 1995, Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. With members across the United States and Canada, WVE is changing corporate practices, holding government accountable, and ensuring a toxic-free future for all. Learn more at www.womensvoices.org. WVE is a founding member of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the National healthy Nail and Beauty Salon Alliance.

For more information about the Safe Comestics and Personal Care Products Act, visit the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website here.

Walmart Announces Prohibition of 10 Toxic Chemicals and Increased Disclosure of Ingredients

Posted September 12th, 2013

September 12, 2013 – Today, the world’s largest retailer, Walmart, announced that it will begin a process to phase out at least 10 harmful chemicals from the cleaning products, cosmetics, and personal care products they carry, and require increased ingredient disclosure for these product categories.

“We are pleased that Walmart is making this commitment towards safer products and transparency,” said Erin Switalski, executive director of Women’s Voices for the Earth. “In particular, Walmart’s announcement is a good step forward in increasing transparency in the cleaning product industry, where no federal law currently exists to require this disclosure.”

Starting in January 2014, Walmart will begin to identify private brand cleaning products for labeling in accordance with the EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) Safer Labeling program. This means that product ingredients must be disclosed either on a product label, through a website, or through a toll-free number. The labeling program also requires the disclosure of the Chemical Service Abstract number or CAS #, which is a unique chemical identifier.

“Unfortunately, the DfE program does not require full disclosure of fragrance ingredients, so customers will still be left in the dark about some of the chemicals they are being exposed to in a product,” said Ms. Switalski. “Overall, it’s a great first step and we applaud Walmart’s initiative towards safer products and ingredient transparency.”