Known as 'Skin Deep,' the service allows consumers to "fill the information gap left by an industry that markets thousand of products with ingredients that have not been assessed for safety by either industry or government health experts", EWG said in a press statement.
According to the organisation the industry's own panel has only safety- screened 11 per cent of the the 10,500 ingredients currently used within the industry.
Lashing back at the claims that EWG have made and the basis of the web service, the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association said, "This report is filled with erroneous information and false conclusions intended to mislead consumers. There is no scientific evidence that any cosmetic product is anything but safe. Cosmetics continue to be one of the safest categories of products used by Americans each day."
The searchable database for the EWG service features information on shampoos, lotions, deodorants, sunscreens and other products from almost 1,000 brands, built from a core of 37 toxicity and regulatory databases that the organization has collated in recent years.
EWG says that consumers can use Skin Deep to create customized shopping lists that are free of both carcinogens and substances that effect fetal development.
For the cosmetics and personal care industry the lobby group suggests that manufacturers could use the service as a reference for the safety rating of their product's ingredients and as a means of reformulating their products to make them less toxic.
"Most of us expect that the products we find on store shelves have been tested for safety, but the government has no authority to require tests," said EWG vice president for Science Jane Houlihan. "An average adult is exposed to over 100 unique chemicals in personal care products every day - these exposures add up."
Unlike the regulations set down by the European Commission in Europe, there are currently no industry-wide safety standards for the cosmetics and toiletry industry in the US. The EWG says that following a petition it sent to the FDA, a response sent on September 29 confirmed that there were no plans to establish one.
"Without federal oversight or standards, companies should inform consumers of their own internal studies, and how they decide if a product or ingredient is safe enough to sell," Houlihan said.
However, CFTA believes that the EWG's petition was turned down for a reason. "In response to the false assertions of the petitioners, the FDA issued a nine-page, point-by-point letter on September 29 in which they made clear the authors had no grounds for their claims," CTFA said in its statement.
"In the response, the FDA repeatedly noted that the petition lacked evidence or scientific data to support claims that certain products were not safe," the statement continued.
With opinion continuing to be so divided on the subject it seems certain that cosmetics safety will continue to be a hotly debated area in the US for years to come.