According to the Organisation, most of the research around toxic chemicals in cosmetics has been geared more towards women to date, and with the male personal care sector reaching more than $690 million in Canada alone, its concern is that male grooming products aren’t being as rigorously tested.
The NGO’s researchers are said to have ran tests on 17 cosmetic products recommended by male consumers across Canada.
Of those tests, four products were found to have contained 'probable human carcinogens' like Dibutyl Phthalates (DBP) present in nail products, five contained chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulphate found in products that lather like shampoo and is said to affect the reproductive health, and ten contained artificial musks, some of which have been linked to male hormone disruption.
Although the results from the tests may seem to be cause for concern, generally unless a consumer has a specific allergy or sensitivity, immediate effects from the levels of exposure to these toxins are unlikely.
However, the organization disagrees, saying the problem is in the potential long-term effects, and even fears the potential of extremely low doses, quite the contrary to the industry wide wisdom of “the dose makes the poison”.
“The long-term effects haven’t been studied extensively and researchers worry that these toxins, when mixed with other chemicals in our environment, could create a ‘chemical cocktail’ where it is nearly impossible to know all of the effects it could have on humans.”
Health Canada, the government agency that defines requirements concerning the manufacturing, labeling, distribution and sale of cosmetics in Canada, insists that products carry a list of all ingredients – with the exception of fragrance, which is considered to be a ‘trade secret.’
It is in this area in particular that the NGO highlights its concern as fragrances may contain up to 3,000 ingredients, listed simply as ‘fragrance’ or 'parfum.'
While it also pinpoints other exceptions to Health Canada’s labeling regulation as being a concern, such as impurities that get into products through contamination or when a product contains phthalates which don’t need to be listed as an ingredient.
Thus, the Environmental Defence is making several recommendations to the Canadian cosmetic industry, including that of enacting similar bans as the ones in Europe, disclosing all ingredients in a product on the label and online and removing chemicals known, or suspected to be harmful, from products.