California cosmetics Bill becomes law

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Safe cosmetics act, Cosmetics, California

California's state government has brought to an end months of
uncertainty after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a Bill on
Saturday that will require cosmetics manufacturers to disclose
which of their products contain potentially harmful chemicals.

The Bill specifies that that cosmetic companies selling products in California must provide the state government with details of any ingredients that contain chemicals identified as causing cancer or reproductive toxicity. The move chiefly targets certain chemicals in the phthalate family, which scientific studies have linked to abnormalities in unborn babies and a heightened cancer risk.

The Bill has been authored and petitioned by Senator Carole Migden and co-sponsored by consumer lobby groups Breast Cancer Action, the Breast Cancer Fund and the National Environment Trusts. It requires manufacturers to disclose ingredients that are known by the state to cause cancer or birth defects.

The California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005 (SB 484), was vigorously opposed by the industry. A campaign headed by the CFTA has described the Bill as an 'anti-cosmetics legislation and is encouraging all of the Senate committee members to vote against it. The body also claim that the Bill will be very difficult to implement and will also mean that many cosmetic companies will have to divulge trade secret formulations, risking many years of product research and development.

In their defense, Companies using phthalates in cosmetics products also claim that the amounts of the chemical used in cosmetic products are well within prescribed safety limits. But in response to this researchers at the University of Rochester claim that individuals simultaneously using several cosmetic products containing phthalates could lead to unhealthy levels of the chemical accumulating in the body.

Environmental Working Group (EWG), which has also fiercely lobbied for the introduction of the bill says that the Bill will uncover over 100 products known to contain toxins that affect reproductive development or carcinogens. The groups says that products manufactured by Avon, Grecian Formula, Wet 'N Wild and other companies, include a range of products from nail polish to body creams and lip balm.

The Safe Cosmetics Act will require manufacturers to disclose to the Department of Health Services (DHS) ingredients in their products known by the state to cause cancer or birth defects, and would authorize DHS to investigate the health impacts of these chemicals.

"The protections in this act buttress a federal cosmetic safety system that leaves consumers at risk,"​ said Jane Houlihan, vice president for research at EWG. "It may be legal for companies to use cancer-causing chemicals in products, but now, in California, consumers will have the unique right to know about potentially harmful ingredients. The governor should sign this bill without delay."

The implications of the new Bill will undoubtedly be felt on a national level, as many leading cosmetics companies race to have their cosmetics formulations comply with the all-important Californian market requirements. Whether or not this has a bearing on national legislation remains to be seen.

Related topics: Market Trends

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