Smart discussion about toxics policy reform

At Last! Cosmetics Bill Introduced in the House

Over the past decade, Environmental Working Group has uncovered either hazardous or untested cosmetics ingredients everywhere our research has taken us — in product tests, in ingredient label surveys and even in people.

In our biomonitoring studies, we sent blood and urine samples from 20 teenage girls from across the country to the laboratory.  It turned out they were tainted with an average of 13 potential hormone-disrupting preservatives, plasticizers and other cosmetic chemicals. In umbilical cord blood from 7 of 10 newborn babies, we found synthetic musk fragrances that had crossed the placenta from mother to infant to pollute the developing child before birth.

Our researchers have identified 500 products sold in the U.S. that contain ingredients that are banned in cosmetics in Japan, Canada or Europe.  Nearly 100 products have been found to contain ingredients the industry itself has declared unsafe for use in fragrance. Perhaps most disconcerting, our investigations have found that 99 percent of all personal care products are made with at least one and usually several ingredients that have never been assessed for safety by the government or any other publicly accountable institution.

The federal Food and Drug Administration oversees cosmetic safety, but under the shackles of a 1976 law, the agency lacks the authority to review the safety of products before they are sold, or to require recalls of those it knows are harmful.

There’s no doubt Americans want safer products. EWG’s Skin Deep cosmetics safety database logs between 1 and 2 million searches monthly, conducted by people seeking simpler, safer cosmetics from among the more than 60,000 products in our lists. Consumers armed with this information are already driving changes.  Many companies are removing suspect chemicals from their wares as a result. More than a thousand have pledged to make safer products through the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, where EWG is a founding member.

And now, federal legislation proposed this week by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) would close major gaps in the law – finally.   This measure would give FDA real authority to ensure that personal care products sold in the U.S. meet a basic standard of safety.

This measure is long overdue.  We stand with Reps. Schakowsky, Baldwin and Markey as they embark on the tough work necessary to move this legislation, so that someday Americans will be able to go to the store and buy shampoo, moisturizers, body wash and other grooming products with full confidence they aren’t laced with chemicals whose effects on health are unknown or downright dangerous.

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9 Responses to “At Last! Cosmetics Bill Introduced in the House”

  1. Yes! Now that is what I am talking about..getting to the bottom of it..regulating those toxic chemicals in cosmetics to be safer.! Finally they are listening great post!


  2. Thanks for adding your, Anastacia. Some are toxic, some they just don’t know. Either way, cosmetics can be pretty pricey, so we think their makers owe you and other consumers full info before you fork over hard-earned cash. Elaine Shannon, EWG editor-in-chief

  3. Charli says:

    The larger problem we are facing is that we have “tested” and deemed “safe” tens of thousands of chemicals on animals only to find that the some results are not accurate. It’s time to use human-relevant non-animal testing practices as outlined by the National Academy of Sciences report, “Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy in 2007.”

    The potential for chemical reform is quite exciting, but it should be done in a way that doesn’t sacrifice millions of animals (for toxicity testing) in the name of better protection for human health and the environment. We need Congress to mandate and create market incentives to use nonanimal methods and tests.

  4. Lucky says:

    Wonderful,that finally Cosmetic manufacturers have opened their eyes and are forced to listen to the voice of the public.Agreed Shannon when you say that the price is hefty why not pay the same for a quality product.

  5. Nallely says:

    At last.. I can’t wait!

  6. Jenn Leonard says:

    My question here is, how will this effect small businesses? I have a friend who just started a natural soap company. She is under the impression that she will not only have to list water on her labels, but that she will also have to list all the components of that water, which, let’s be honest, is pretty toxic all on it’s own more often than not. Is this true?

  7. Elizabeth BAker says:


    This legislation will cripple small companies, and the FDA already does regulate (STRICTLY) the ingredients in cosmetics. Please oppose the bill as written currently, and EWG, please present the whole truth in a way designed to actually help consumers, and not just generate revenue for EWG!

  8. Jenn Leonard says:

    Elizabeth the FDA does NOT strictly regulate ingredients in cosmetics AT ALL. More regulations is needed to ensure safety for the American people. I have concerns about how this bill will affect small businesses, but not for one second to I think things should stay the way they are. People are literally dying from the amount of chemicals they are exposed to daily, not only in cosmetics, but in our food, and personal care products as well. Who exactly do YOU work for?

  9. Echo Barnett says:

    I think it is time to get back to the basics. natural natural natural! People need to educate themselves in order to see that most everything we buy from a store is designed to make big bucks not to preserve our health. Way to go you guys, my hat is off to you for your hard work and research.