For this study, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a national coalition of health and environmental groups, commissioned tests of 17 fragranced products at an independent laboratory. Campaign partner Environmental Working Group assessed data from the tests and the product labels. The analysis revealed that the 17 products contained, on average:
• Fourteen secret chemicals not listed on labels due to a loophole in federal law that allows companies to claim fragrances as trade secrets. American Eagle Seventy Seven contained 24 hidden chemicals, the highest number of any product in the study.
• Four hormone-disrupting chemicals linked to a range of health effects including sperm damage, thyroid disruption and cancer. Halle by Halle Berry, Quicksilver and Jennifer Lopez J. Lo Glow each contained seven different chemicals with the potential to disrupt the hormone system.
“Chemicals from fragrance are inhaled or absorbed and they are getting inside people’s bodies -- even babies, who are most vulnerable to the affects of toxic chemicals,” said Steve Trombley, President/CEO of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “Families need information about what products these harmful chemicals are in so that men and women who are planning their families can ensure that the products they use on a daily basis do not hinder their ability to have a safe and healthy pregnancy and family.”
The majority of chemicals found in this report have never been assessed for safety by any publically accountable agency, or by the cosmetics industry’s self-policing review panels. Of the 91 ingredients identified in this study, only 19 have been reviewed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), and 27 have been assessed by International Fragrance Association (IFRA) and the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM), which develop voluntary standards for chemicals used in fragrance.
“The Vermont Legislature overwhelming supported a bill to phase out BPA in reusable food and beverage containers and in the plastic containers, jars or cans that store infant formula or baby food, in favor of safer alternatives,” says Representative Ann Pugh, Chair of the House Human Services Committee. “This study spotlights the need for greater reform.”
“Ultimately, working on a chemical by chemical basis is not the safest or most efficient way to protect our reproductive health,” says Representative Willem Jewett, sponsor of Vermont’s chemical reform bill. “We need a comprehensive approach which will provide what we all expect; for government to protect us against dangerous chemicals.
The study of hidden toxic chemicals in perfumes comes on the heels of last week’s report by the President’s Cancer Panel, which sounded the alarm over the understudied and largely unregulated toxic chemicals used by millions of Americans in their daily lives. The Cancer Panel report recommends that pregnant women and couples planning to become pregnant avoid exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals due to cancer concerns. Hormone disruptors that may play a role in cancer were found in many of the fragrances analyzed for this study.
Director of Communications
May 12, 2010