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The U.S. personal care products industry is worth about $189 billion a year. Americans of all ages use these products every day, from lotion to shampoo, makeup to deodorant, hair dye to shaving cream. But even though the use of these products is universal, the industry is largely unregulated.
Safety rules for personal care products are based on a law passed in 1938—nearly 80 years ago.
No other range of products is so widely used in such large quantities with so few safeguards.
The FDA doesn’t review the vast majority of chemicals in personal care products. Only 11 substances have been prohibited or restricted, including mercury and chloroform. By contrast, the European Union has banned more than 1,300 chemicals from personal care products.
There is also little oversight of the concentration levels of chemicals in products. The ingredient lists that appear on packaging don’t have to be posted online. The FDA doesn’t even have mandatory recall authority for products that may cause serious harm.
The Personal Care Products Safety Act
Many companies have voluntarily taken action to make the industry safer by eliminating or reducing the use of certain ingredients but a uniform safety standard is needed. The Personal Care Products Safety Act would finally address these glaring safety loopholes. Consumer and health groups and a wide-range of companies, including Goddess Garden Organics, have joined forces to support this bill.
This marks the first time federal legislation on this issue has earned the support of both consumer and industry groups. A key component of the bill is an FDA review process for ingredients frequently used in these products. FDA would review at least five chemicals per year, chosen based on input from consumers, medical professionals, scientists and companies.
Determining Safety of Ingredients and Concentrations
The ingredient-review process would address which chemicals can continue to be used in personal care products, and if so, what the concentration levels should be.
The FDA may determine that some chemicals, particularly endocrine-disrupting chemicals, are not appropriate in any products, or are only appropriate in small amounts.
The key for many chemicals may be how much is used. We need to know at what concentration these chemicals are unsafe.
For example, after conducting a scientific review, the FDA may determine that a particular chemical is only safe at a concentration of five parts per million. Going forward, all companies would need to reformulate their products so they contained no more than five parts per million of that ingredient.
Companies like Goddess Garden would still have the power to adopt a stricter standard. They could use less of a particular ingredient, or not use certain ingredients at all, but the ingredient review process would finally create a uniform safety standard so the industry knows what the parameters are.
The bill would also require companies to register with FDA and provide a list of their ingredients with a range of concentration for each one.
Warning Labels for Children’s Products
Warning labels would be required for products not appropriate for children, and complete label information, including ingredients and product warnings, would be posted online to ensure parents can make informed decisions.
Lastly, FDA would be given the authority to recall products that cause serious harm.
These commonsense proposals are long overdue and the bill has the broad, bipartisan support needed to move forward. Consumers deserve to know that the products they and their families use every day are safe.
To express your support for the bill, click here. Continued public support for the bill is critical to moving it forward.
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