WASHINGTON, January 30, 2009. While it’s common to see lipstick sales jump during an economic recession, the current global financial crisis may not produce the same result in Canada where the government today declared two chemicals used in lipstick and other personal care products to be toxic.
The move by Canada signals that the government has serious concerns about the hazards of the chemicals, which persist in the environment and accumulate in the food chain. Canada will prioritize the chemicals, known as D4 and D5 siloxanes, for action under the government’s Chemicals Management Plan to ensure that exposures are safe for people and the environment.
Canada’s action, which paves the way for possible mandates requiring that companies phase these chemicals out of use, is the first environmental or health-based determination concerning the chemicals issued by any nation.
D4 and D5 toxins are found in such everyday items as body lotions, hair-care products, soaps, baby bottle nipples, cookware and home cleaning products. Both chemicals are linked to uterine tumors and other types of damage to the female reproductive system in animals. Effects in people have not been studied, despite the likelihood of near universal exposure. According to an analysis of Environmental Working Group’s own database of ingredients in over 41,000 personal care products, D4 and D5 are in more than 1 of every 7 products.
Furthermore and maybe of the most concern, both D4 and D5 are extremely persistent, building up in the food chain, the environment, and potentially in people, and remaining for a very long time. And, with both able to move great distances by air, D4 and D5 can easily travel thousands of miles.
Canadian health officials are most concerned about harm to wildlife from these now ubiquitous environmental pollutants. But chemicals like D4 and D5 that resist degradation in the environment and have the potential to build up in the food chain may therefore post significant long-term risks to human health as well.
“Today’s move by Canada is not only important for the health of its citizens, it helps underscore the need for real reforms within the EPA’s failed programs to regulate toxins in the U.S.,” said EWG VP for Research Jane Houlihan. “Congress and President Obama need to overhaul broken toxics laws, and establish a policy that forces the chemical companies to first prove their products are safe before being used.“
As Canada moves forward to assess actions needed to reduce the use of these toxic chemicals under its Chemical Management Plan program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has yet to publish a single study or assessment on D4 and D5 under their parallel program, the High Production Volume (HPV) chemical challenge. D4 and D5 have been prioritized for assessment in the HPV program since 1998.
EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.