ANGELES) -- Most cosmetics and other personal care products sold in the
U.S. contain chemicals that have never been assessed for safety,
according to a computer-assisted investigation by the Environmental
Working Group (EWG).
Today EWG released the results of a study of 7,500 brand-name products on a free website (www.ewg.org)
that for the first time lets consumers learn what chemicals are in
their soap, shampoo, toothpaste and other products. The website
provides product rankings of known and probable health hazards
associated with ingredients in each of the 7,500 products assessed,
including information on ingredients linked to cancer and reproductive
majority of ingredients in personal care products have not been
assessed for safety. But of those that have been studied, some are
listed by government agencies as known or probable carcinogens or
reproductive toxins. Today EWG is petitioning the Food and Drug
Administration to assess the safety of scores of products that may be
adulterated, and to declare as misbranded hundreds of products
containing ingredients the industry's own self-policing safety panel
has found lack sufficient data to be considered safe.
"This news is
cause for concern, but not alarm," said Jane Houlihan, EWG's vice
president for research. "Studies to understand the potential health
impacts from low-dose lifelong exposures to chemical mixtures like
those in personal care products have yet to be done. In the meantime,
consumers can use our online, interactive product guide to choose
personal care products that pose fewer potential risks."
EWG's "Skin Deep"
investigation is released in conjunction with the launch of Because
We're Worth it! The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, organized to protect
the health of consumers and workers by requiring the health and beauty
industry to phase out the use of chemicals that are known or suspected
to cause cancer, genetic mutation or reproductive harm.
A survey of more
than 2,300 people conducted by EWG and five other public health and
environmental organizations found that the average adult who responded
uses nine personal care products daily, exposing herself to 126
chemicals every day.
Of the 10,500
chemical ingredients used in personal care products, just 11 percent
have been safety assessed -- and the assessments were not conducted by
government officials, but by a panel funded by manufacturers. The
cosmetic industry polices the safety of its own products: the Food and
Drug Administration cannot require safety testing of ingredients or
products before they are put on store shelves and into our bodies.
Olivia James, a
former runway fashion model, questions whether her son's health
problems could be linked to her use of cosmetics. James, who modeled
for 16 years, said her son was born with hypospadias, a birth defect
that has been linked in laboratory studies to chemicals found in nail
polish and moisturizing cream.
"Why do our chemical regulations let the cosmetics industry decide what's safe for us and our children?" asked James.