First Law on Toxic Chemicals in Cosmetics Passes in California
(Beyond Pesticides, October 12, 2005) CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law last Saturday the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005 (SB 484) that will require cosmetic manufacturers to disclose to authorities any product sold in the state that contains an ingredient identified as causing cancer or birth defects. The new regulation and consumer protection in cosmetics is the first of its kind in the United States and, many argue, long overdue.
“An astonishing one-third of all products contain one or more ingredients classified as possible human carcinogens,” according to Environmental Working Group (EWG). After investigating 7,500 personal care products (such as shampoos, lotions, make-up foundations, and lip balms), EWG reports that one of every 120 products on the market contains ingredients identified by government authorities as known or probable human carcinogens.
Eighty-nine (89) percent of the 10,500 ingredients have not been evaluated for safety by government or any other publicly accountable institution, according to EWG.
The bill, mainly sponsored by the National Environmental Trust, Breast Cancer Fund and Breast Cancer Action, drew intense opposition from major cosmetics manufacturers, most notably, Avon, Procter & Gamble and L'Oreal. Despite industry opposition, the grassroots pressure on the state was apparent.
Over the past several years, a broad coalition of diverse groups and interests have formed on the issue, bringing together businesses, scientists, health professionals, faith based organizations, children’s health advocates, environmentalists, women’s groups and others. Some 70 organizations signed in support of the bill, 100 scientists and health professionals advocated in favor and 200 companies have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics organized by the on-going, national Campaign for Safe Cosmetics – the umbrella coordination for the movement.
For a list of toxins on the label to avoid or a list of products containing the toxic chemicals, see the EWG report Skin Deep.