|LOS ANGELES, California,
June 7, 2004: 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).
Of the few products they have been tested some have been
found to contain known or probable carcinogens or reproductive
A new website, www.ewg.org, which goes live today,
will help beauty consumers access their risk level.
The website evaluates over 7,500 brand-name products
letting users know if there are any probable health
hazards associated with any of the product’s ingredients.
While evidence indicates there is little risk from
short-term use of a single beauty product long-term
use of a combination of products combined with product-enhancement
features that increase a chemicals absorption into the
skin could add up to a real concern for users.
"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."
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?"
For more information, see www.safecosmetics.org.