Last month, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee convened the first Congressional hearing in 30 years on the safety of cosmetics and personal care products. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics says that meeting was not equally represented by industry professionals, workers and consumers.
According to the organisation, the hearing weighed in favor of the industry, stating that four out of six witnesses called to testify, represented the industry.
“No witnesses representing health impacted salon workers or consumers were called to testify.”
Jennifer Arce, a hairstylist said to be suffering from respiratory ailments due to formaldehyde exposure from hair straightening treatments was submitted to the Committee but was not chosen to testify, according to the CSC.
"It's upsetting that manufacturers, their trade groups and lawyers got most of the seats at the table but the voices of people who have been hurt by toxic products were shut out of the process," said Arce.
On the upside...
PhD toxicologist and head of the Safe Cosmetics Program for the California Department of Health, Michael DiBartolomeis had the opportunity to offer his concerns about that companies reporting to his office 17,060 personal care products that contain one or more of 96 carcinogens or reproductive toxicants.
He further had the chance to stress his belief that any federal cosmetics legislation must not pre-empt states' rights to create stronger standards, as California has done.
CSC representatives also had the chance to address the congress with its concerns about toxic chemicals in cosmetics for what it says, is mainly about public health, worker safety and consumers' right to know.
"This is a critical time for the future of cosmetic safety in the United States. Industry, environmental groups and both parties seem to agree that the failed 1938 cosmetics laws need to be updated,” says Janet Nudelman, policy director of the Breast Cancer Fund.
“But”, she adds, “the million-dollar question is, will it be meaningful reform or will industry write its own rules and make a bad situation worse?”
This could be a central issue as Congress gears up to debate cosmetics safety in the weeks ahead.