Pertinent news for anyone who uses soap, shampoo, perfume, sunscreen, lip balm, moisturizer, etc etc etc: last Wednesday, Congress introduced a bill that would give the FDA the power to protect your hide from companies that use toxic chemicals in your personal care products. It’s called the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 (HR 5786 – check it out on Thomas), and it could turn out to be a desperately needed game-changer in the bath and body aisle.
Why do we need this bill? The average American exposes him or herself to about 126 chemicals each day (that’s nine personal care products), and we really don’t know how (un)safe those chemicals are. What we do know is that 500 of those chemical ingredients (this info courtesy of watchdog organization Environmental Working Group – EWG) have been banned in Japan, Europe, or Canada.
If Europe suddenly decided (here’s hoping) that aspartame and all associated diet drinks were carcinogenic, and even went so far as to swipe the stuff from grocery stores, would you feel safe chugging the stuff in the states?
The problem is that our government isn’t regulating ingredients used in personal care products – in fact, no one is. That leaves personal care companies and distributors responsible for regulating themselves, when it comes to deciding what’s a safe chemical load. You may have heard about Whole Foods’ new stringent standards for ingredients in personal care products (nevermind their sketchy track record of importing questionable “organics” from China)? That’s great for Whole Paycheck – I mean Foods! – shoppers, but many drug and grocery store distributors have yet to even think about raising the bar on their bath and body sections.
Should you feel moved to speak up for clean cosmetics, sign EWG’s pledge, and help get the Safe Cosmetics Act passed. I signed last week – it took all of three seconds. Scout’s honor.
Meantime, don’t be a lab rat. Regulate your own toilette regime – search for your favorite products in EWG’s user-friendly product database (www.cosmeticsdatabase.com), and see if they’re exposing you to hormone-disruptors or carcinogens while they add volume to your locks. If so, take a minute to poke around the website and pick some safer alternatives to try out next time.
And if you’re not yet sufficiently moved to take action, watch Annie Leonard’s new short: The Story of Cosmetics.