FROM THE OFFICES OF THE CANCER PREVENTION COALITION
Press Release, July 8, 2002
New Initiatives in Personal Care Product Safety
CPC is pleased to report recent break-through
initiatives in consumer product safety.
Fragrances and Perfumes:
As emphasized in the Safe Shopper's Bible, fragrances and
perfumes in mainstream cosmetics and toiletries, besides in soaps
and other household products, are leading causes of allergy,
sensitization, and irritation. Their toxicity is also in serious
question as is their contribution to indoor air pollution.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has
reported that the fragrance industry uses up to 3000 ingredients,
predominantly synthetic, some 900 of which were identified as
toxic. However, the industry is not required to disclose
ingredients of fragrances and perfumes on their labels due to
trade secrecy considerations. The FDA supports this non-disclosure
on the grounds that "consumers are not adversely affected -- and
should not be deprived of the enjoyment" of these products.
An analysis of six different mainstream perfumes by
Scientific Instrument Services, released in November 1998,
identified over 800 ingredients with distinctive patterns for each
perfume. These ingredients include a wide range of volatile and
semi-volatile organic chemicals which are thus a significant
contributors to indoor air pollution.
On May 11, 1999, the California Environmental Health
Network filed a Citizen Petition with the FDA requiring warning
labels on all fragrances which are marketed without prior adequate
safety testing. Additionally, the petition requested the FDA to
take administrative action and declare Calvin Klein' Cosmetic
Company "Eternity eau de parfume" as "misbranded." This petition
has been supported and endorsed by the CPC. While Eternity perfume
has been known since 1995 as toxic to the respiratory tract and
nervous system, the petition was based on recent analysis of the
perfume by two independent laboratories, Scientific Instruments
Services and the cosmetic industry's Research Institute of
Fragrance Materials Laboratory. Of all 41 ingredients identified,
no toxicity data are available on some, data on most are
inadequate, and others are known to be toxic to the skin, mucous
membranes, respiratory tract, and reproductive and nervous systems
by routes including skin absorption and inhalation. Additionally,
two ingredients (phenylmethyl acetic acid ester and 2,6-bis (1,1-
dimethylethyl) -4-methyl-phenol) were identified as carcinogens.
The FDA has 180 days to respond to this petition. However, any
positive response is most unlikely.
Neways International, a leading alternative safe
consumer products company, has taken a precedential initiative in
the area of fragrance safety. The few fragrances used in Neways
personal care products contain less than 10 ingredients, most of
which are natural. As importantly, none of the few synthetics used
are known to be toxic or carcinogenic. In the near future, these
products will be labeled accordingly.
A wide range of personal care products including shampoos,
hair conditioners, cleansers, lotions, and creams, besides
household products such as soaps and cleaning products, contain
surfactants or detergents such as ethoxylated alcohols,
polysorbates, and laureths. These ingredients are generally
contaminated with high concentrations of the highly volatile 1,4 -
dioxane, which is both readily inhaled and absorbed through the
skin. The carcinogenicity of dioxane in rodents was first reported
in 1965 and subsequently confirmed in other studies including by
the National Cancer Institute in 1978; the predominant sites of
cancer were nasal passages in rats and liver in mice.
Epidemiological studies on dioxane-exposed furniture makers have
reported suggestive evidence of excess nasal passage cancers. On
the basis of such evidence, the Consumer Product Safety Commission
concluded that "the presence of 1,4 - dioxane, even as a trace
contaminant, is a cause of concern." These avoidable risks of
cancer in numerous personal care, besides other consumer, products
is inexcusable, particularly as the dioxane is readily removed
from surfactants during their manufacture by a process known
as "vacuum stripping."
Again, Neways now stands alone in certifying and labeling
the surfactants in its personal care products as "dioxane-free,"
and thus sets an important precedent to the entire personal care
Neways products here