[Pharmwaste] Beauty Industry Removing Phthalates from Cosmetics
dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
Wed Dec 10 13:53:04 EST 2008
12.9.2008 9:37 AM
Beauty Industry Removing Phthalates from Cosmetics
Report: Some Brands Still Use Harmful Substances
By Dan Shapley
While several brands continue to use chemicals that consumer and health
advocates say are too risky, some leading beauty companies have are
using fewer controversial chemicals, according to a new report by the
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
The group's testing focused on phthalates, a chemical commonly used in
fragrances - and usually unreported on ingredient lists - that some
studies have associated with a range of health problems, from asthma to
reproductive and developmental problems.
Here's a look at some of the information from the report, as stated by
"The tests follow up on the 2002 report 'Not Too Pretty,' which revealed
that 72% of popular cosmetic products tested - including shampoos,
deodorants, fragrances and other products - contained phthalates. In the
original tests, 12 products contained more than one phthalate and five
products contained very high levels of diethyl phthalate (DEP). For the
new tests, an independent lab analyzed those same products still
available on store shelves and found that:
None of the products contained more than one phthalate. The fragrances,
deodorants and hair sprays tested negative for dibutyl phthalate (DBP),
dimethyl phthalate (DMP), diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) and butylbenzyl
Some companies are still using high levels of diethyl phthalate (DEP),
which recent human studies link to DNA damage in sperm and feminization
of the male reproductive system. The five perfumes and colognes with the
highest levels of DEP in 2002 all still showed more than 20,000 parts
per million of that phthalate.
Three of the fragrances - Charlie, Wind Song by Prince Matchabelli and
White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor - had higher levels of DEP in 2008
than they did in 2002. Charlie Cologne Spray, manufactured by Revlon,
had more than twice as much DEP in 2008 as the same product had in 2002.
Perfumes don't need to contain phthalates. Poison perfume by Christian
Dior - which in 2002 was the most contaminated product with four
phthalates (DBP, DEHP, BBP and DEP) - had no detectable levels of
phthalates in three of the four bottles tested in 2008, and low levels
of DEP in the fourth bottle.
Two phthalates are banned in Europe, California requires the reporting
of the use of phthalates in personal care products and phthalates will
soon be banned in U.S. children's products. There are no limits on use
of phthalates in cosmetics or personal care products, however.
Some advocates and scientists in the U.K. are calling for new
Europe-wide labeling system to warn pregnant women against using certain
personal care products, like hairspray and some cosmetics, because of a
perceived risk to their unborn children.
A separate study recently found that adolescent girls in the United
States have 16 different chemicals from four chemical classes in their
blood and urine that might disrupt the normal functioning of their
These endocrine disruptors - phthalates, triclosan, parabens and musks -
are associated with cosmetics and body care products, which teen girls
use in higher doses than other segments of the population, according to
the Environmental Working Group, which conducted study. Further, because
young women are going through rapid development, their long-term health,
particularly their reproductive health, could be at risk.
The health risks of the chemicals are not definitively understood, but
each has been the target of efforts by consumer, health and
environmental advocates who view independent scientific findings as
justification for limiting or eliminating exposure.
Because these chemicals mimic hormones, they may cause effects at very
low levels, just as hormones act naturally as chemical messengers to
cause changes in the body at low concentrations.
The 20 teens tested - a small sample that can only raise more questions,
rather than definitively describe exposure rates - used an average of
more than 16 personal care products daily.
Finding cosmetics and personal care products free of suspect ingredients
is notoriously difficult. Labels are often misleading, ingredients are
listed with confusing alternative descriptions or not at all, and many
terms - like "natural" or even "organic" - commonly found on labels are
Deborah L. DeBiasi
Email: dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
WEB site address: www.deq.virginia.gov
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Office of Water Permit Programs
Industrial Pretreatment/Toxics Management Program
PPCPs, EDCs, and Microconstituents
Mail: P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218 (NEW!)
Location: 629 E. Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219
More information about the Pharmwaste