Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has learned that the FDA recently conducted
a safety study of phthalates—a group of industrial chemicals linked to
birth defects that are used in many cosmetics products—but is refusing
to publicly release the study’s findings. In response, Friends of the
Earth, a founding member of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, today
filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain the study.
According to preliminary information
uncovered by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics about the study,
two-thirds of health and beauty products analyzed by the FDA late last
year contained phthalates. Two of the most toxic phthalates, DEHP and
DBP, have been banned from cosmetics products sold in the European
Union but remain unregulated in the United States .
“The FDA is withholding an important piece
of scientific research from the public,” said Lisa Archer , Campaign
Coordinator for Friends of the Earth. “We deserve to know if there are
harmful ingredients in our cosmetics products. As a publicly-funded
agency, the FDA has a duty to tell the public what it knows about which
products contain phthalates.”
FDA reported the existence of the study in
the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition 2004 Program
Priorities Accomplishments, which was released in January. According to
the FDA’s Web site, the agency “surveyed 48 cosmetic products and
identified 5 phthalate esters in 32 of the products. Phthalate levels
ranging from 16 ppm to 59,000 ppm were found; the highest levels found
were in nail enamels.”
The FDA survey followed a 2002 report by
environmental and health groups, entitled “Not Too Pretty,” in which
independent lab tests found phthalates in 72 percent of beauty
products. Since phthalates are not listed as ingredients on product
labels, they can only be detected through laboratory analysis.
Phthalates are industrial chemicals used in
various consumer products, including shampoos, deodorants and hair
sprays. In animal tests, some phthalates have damaged the developing
testes of offspring and caused malformation of the penis and other
parts of the reproductive tract.
Several top cosmetics companies, including
L'Oréal (OTC: LORLY [ADR]), Revlon (NYSE: REV) and Unilever (NYSE: UL
[ADR]; London: ULVR), have said they will voluntarily remove DBP and
DEHP from products sold in the United States.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is asking
cosmetics manufacturers to sign the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, a
pledge to remove EU-banned chemicals immediately, and to replace other
chemicals of concern with safer alternatives within three years. To
date, 93 companies have signed the Compact. See www.safecosmetics.org for more information.
A copy of the Freedom of Information Act Request filed today by Friends of the Earth can be found at www.foe.org/camps/comm/cancer/FDAPhthalateFOIA.pdf.
To view FDA’s reference to the survey of
cosmetics containing phthalates, visit the Center for Food Safety and
Applied Nutrition 2004 Program Priorities Accomplishments at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/cfsan804.html#summary. The survey is mentioned as item #51 in Enclosure 1 of the “CFSAN 2004 Program Priorities Accomplishments through June 2004.”