Guest post by Maricel V. Maffini, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council
At low doses the FDA says bisphenol A, the substance used in cans, plastics and dental fillings, is safe. But, the agency is in the midst of a multimillion dollar study examining the safety of this synthetic estrogen. Haven’t they jumped the gun?
FDA officials seem eager to put this discussion behind them and move on, but there is still a lot to be done in the quest to find answers to the question: does BPA adversely affect human health?
In 2009, Congress provided the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) with $30 million to invest in research that will lead to a better understanding of the public health consequences of exposures to bisphenol A. NIEHS’s National Toxicology Program partnered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and created a consortium called CLARITY in which investigators from academic institutions, the FDA and the National Toxicology Program would work together to answer “important questions surrounding BPA and risks to human health” and “to support and perform the best science we can to inform the best possible decision making.”
The experiments were designed to be comprehensive and to cover 1) a wide variety of disorders and diseases including breast cancer and 2) exposures to everyday levels throughout the life of the animals. These experiments are still ongoing and it will take another three to four years to have all the data analyzed and published.That means it should take the FDA three to four years to make sense of the results and to draw conclusions about the safety of this widespread endocrine disruptor.
For reasons only known to the FDA, its scientists published preliminary data in February that were limited in scope and duration and of questionable scientific value due to the contamination of the study’s control group. Animals that were not supposed to have been in contact with BPA were found to be contaminated. It’s bad enough that data of very limited significance got published, but FDA’s statement to Environmental Health News was worse: “[t]he study reported no effects of BPA at any dose, except at the very highest levels, and is consistent with the FDA’s current position that BPA is safe at the very low amounts that occur in some foods."
Why would FDA declare BPA safe at everyday exposure levels before the comprehensive study is finalized? What is the rush? Why would FDA jeopardize public health by making a premature decision?
Meanwhile, scientific evidence continues to pile up and other agencies have come up with opinions contrary to FDA’s current stance on BPA. In January 2014, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) (FDA’s counterpart across the pond) released its draft extensive Scientific Opinion on the risks to public health related to the presence of BPA in foodstuffs. EFSA’s opinion recommended to lower the current acceptable daily intake, in other words the amount of BPA one can safely consume without harm, from 50 micrograms/kg body weight to 5 micrograms/kg because of likely kidney, liver and mammary gland adverse effects. Also in Europe, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) last month has supported a proposal to strengthen the current classification of BPA as a reproductive toxicant from “suspected human reproductive toxicant” to “presumed human reproductive toxicant” based on evidence that it affects fertility.
The FDA seems unfazed by the hundreds of publications showing that 1) BPA causes numerous adverse effects and 2) free BPA can be measured in human blood. But FDA officials seem to be in a hurry to support their current stance using unreliable data. The best thing FDA should do is to let the study, and the data it will generate, run its course and then, only then, make a rigorous assessment of the safety of BPA considering ALL available information.
Maricel V. Maffini, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council
Maricel Maffini is a member of the Breast Cancer Fund’s Science Advisory Panel. She is a senior scientist in the health and environment program at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in Washington, DC. She joined NRDC in 2013 after completing a three-year research project evaluating the U.S. food additive regulatory system at The Pew Charitable Trusts. Dr. Maffini holds a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the National University of Litoral, Santa Fe, Argentina.
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on May 01, 2014 at 02:33 PM in Air & Water, Bisphenol A, Chemicals policy reform, Create a Healthy Home, Eat & Live Better, Federal Legislation, General Public Health, General Science, Green Our Chemical System, Household Products, Make Our Products Safe, Make Prevention a Public Health Priority, Plastics, Protect Yourself & the Environment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Technorati Tags: BPA, Congress, European Chemicals Agency, European Food Safety Authority, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Toxicology Program, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Pew Charitable Trusts, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
When we make protecting Mother Earth from toxic chemicals a priority, we are also prioritizing prevention of breast cancer and numerous other health issues. Many of the things you can do to protect you and your family from toxic exposures are also good for the planet.
1. Find safe ways to fight germs.
These days it seems like everything claims to be antibacterial—soaps, toothpaste, clothing, bedding, band-aids, toys, cutting boards—you name it. Chances are, these products contain triclosan, an antimicrobial agent that is suspected of interfering with the hormone systems of humans and wildlife. There’s no evidence that triclosan is more effective than soap and water, so trade in the toxics for some good, old-fashioned elbow grease.
2. Cut down on personal care products, and use Think Dirty to find safe alternatives.
When it comes to personal care products, simple is best. Decrease your exposure to toxic chemicals in cosmetics by using fewer products and choosing those with simpler ingredients. What you put on your skin can end up down the drain, entering rivers and streams, and disrupt ecosystems. For products you can’t live without, find a safe alternative using Think Dirty. The app, which contains a database of more than 94,000 personal care products (with more added every day!), will give you easy-to-understand info about products, ingredients, and cleaner options.
3. Go fresh, organic and hormone-free.
When possible, choose organic foods and hormone-free meat and dairy. Buying products grown organically reduces pesticide use, which is good for families, farmworkers, and the environment.
4. Dispose batteries, electronics and light bulbs properly.
When trashed, these items, which all contain chemicals linked to breast cancer and other health concerns, end up in landfills. From there, chemicals like cadmium and mercury can leach into soil, lakes and streams. What to do? Look for special battery or electronics recycling/disposal centers in your community, return compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) to your local hardware store and return electronics to returning them to the store or manufacturer.
5. Reduce your carbon footprint by walking, biking or taking public transportation. This also helps reduce exposures to other components of exhaust linked to breast cancer, because car exhaust releases carcinogens known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (known as PAHs). If you’re in the market for a car, choose a clean, fuel-efficient vehicle using the EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide.
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on April 23, 2014 at 01:39 PM in Choose Safe Cosmetics, Cosmetics, Create a Healthy Home, Eat & Live Better, Food, General Public Health, General Science, Green Our Chemical System, Household Products, Make Our Products Safe, Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
This article, which was written by Breast Cancer Fund Director of Science Sharima Rasanayagam, appears on CNN.com.
Every day millions of women apply lipstick without a second thought. What many don't know is that lipsticks may contain lead, the notorious metal that can cause learning, language and behavioral problems. Lead is a neurotoxin and can be dangerous even at small doses.
So what's lead doing in lipsticks?
Not all lipsticks contain lead, but a number of studies in recent years show that the metal is more prevalent than previously thought.
In 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics conducted a study -- "A Poison Kiss" -- that detected lead in 61% of the 33 lipsticks tested, with levels ranging from 0.03 ppm to 0.65 ppm. Parts per million (ppm) is the measurement of lead in the environment.
Medical experts say there is no safe level of lead in the blood. The FDA says it doesn't consider the lead levels it found in lipsticks to be a safety issue.
No lipstick lists lead as an ingredient. The amounts are small, but the presence of lead in lipstick, which is ingested and absorbed through the skin, raises concerns about the safety of a cosmetic product that is wildly popular among women.
Urged on by both consumers and the cosmetics industry, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration conducted its own testing in 2010. The FDA's results were even more astonishing: The agency detected lead in all 400 lipsticks tested, ranging from 0.9 to 3.06 ppm -- four times higher than the levels observed in the study done by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
And lead isn't the only toxic metal you may be applying to your lips. In a recent study, University of California researchers tested eight lipsticks and 24 lip glosses and detected nine toxic heavy metals, including chromium, cadmium, manganese, aluminum and lead.
The FDA said, "We have assessed the potential for harm to consumers from use of lipstick containing lead at the levels found in both rounds of testing. Lipstick, as a product intended for topical use with limited absorption, is ingested only in very small quantities. We do not consider the lead levels we found in the lipsticks to be a safety concern."
Likewise, the cosmetics industry also doesn't see this as an issue, saying that the dose makes the poison -- in other words, the trace amounts of heavy metals in lipsticks are not harmful.
But the FDA noted, "Although we do not believe that the lead content found in our recent lipstick analyses poses a safety concern, we are evaluating whether there may be a need to recommend an upper limit for lead in lipstick in order to further protect the health and welfare of consumers. "
Indeed, what the FDA and the cosmetics industry have been ignoring is cumulative exposure and potential long-term adverse effects.
It's true that a single lipstick application will not lead to harm. And the good news is that not all lipsticks contain detectable levels of lead or other heavy metals. (And by the way, cost doesn't seem to be a factor; a cheap or expensive lipstick isn't the determinant of how much lead is present.)
The problem is when women who wear lipstick apply it two to 14 times a day, according to the University of California study. The result is that they are ingesting and absorbing through their lips as much as 87 milligrams of product a day, the study says.
Women are not only applying their lipsticks several times a day, but they also are doing this in the span of a whole lifetime, which means that exposure to lead and other heavy metals adds up and canpotentially affect their health.
One challenge for people wanting to avoid exposure is that none of the metals, with the exception of aluminum, are deliberately added to lipsticks and lip glosses. The metals are contaminants that are present in the pigments and base materials used to make the products. Because the metals are not ingredients, cosmetics companies are not required to list them on products' ingredient labels.
The law regulating cosmetics passed Congress in 1938 and has never been updated. The FDA possesses no legal authority to make sure products are safe before they are sold. Nor is the agency empowered to pull dangerous products from store shelves. It's the Wild West for cosmetics companies, which have very few rules restricting chemical ingredients used in everything from shampoosto lotions to lipsticks.
As the contamination of lip products with heavy metals makes it clear, allowing the industry to police itself is not the best idea.
We need the FDA to be empowered by Congress and to take action so women won't face any health risks when they put on makeup. Cosmetics companies should be required to adhere to a standard for best manufacturing processes to limit metal contamination.
For now, consumers should take precautions to protect themselves from heavy metal exposure from lip products. First, use less. If you find yourself reapplying lipstick 14 times a day, consider cutting back. Second, don't let children use lipstick, as their young bodies are especially vulnerable to toxic metals. Then let's get to work to make sure that by the time they've grown up, we have solved the problem of toxic chemicals in cosmetics.
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on April 16, 2014 at 12:50 PM in Chemicals policy reform, Choose Safe Cosmetics, Cosmetics, Eat & Live Better, Federal Legislation, General Public Health, General Science, Green Our Chemical System, Make Informed Health Care Choices, Make Our Products Safe, Make Prevention a Public Health Priority, News article, Protect Yourself & the Environment | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Technorati Tags: Breast Cancer, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, heavy metals, lipsticks, Parts per million (ppm, the dose makes the poison, toxic metal, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Unviersity of California, Wild West
Solidifying its national leadership to halt the use of a highly toxic flame retardant chemical linked to cancer and other serious health effects, Gov. Jerry Brown's administration issued new rules requiring the evaluation of the safety of TDCPP (chlorinated Tris) and its alternatives used in children’s sleep products sold in the state of California.
As a key step in its Safer Consumer Products regulations, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced three draft “priority products” that are listed below. DTSC is requiring manufacturers who want to sell them in California to conduct an “alternatives analysis” to determine if feasible safer ingredients are available.
DTSC says they selected these priority products because they contain at least one of more than 1,100 toxic chemicals that the department identified as having the potential to cause significant harm to people or the environment. The products also are widely used and create the potential for significant public exposure to these chemicals.
The three products are:
The Breast Cancer Fund's Janet Nudelman was quoted by three news outlets about the development:
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on March 20, 2014 at 04:10 PM in Chemicals policy reform, Create a Healthy Home, Eat & Live Better, Federal Legislation, General Public Health, General Science, Make Our Products Safe, Make Prevention a Public Health Priority, News article, Protect Your Family, Protect Yourself & the Environment, State Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Horst Rechelbacher, the father of safe cosmetics and founder of Aveda beauty products and Intelligent Nutrients, died on Feb. 15 in Osceola, Wis. at age 72.
"Horst was in many ways the father of safe cosmetics,"[said Janet Nudelman of the Breast Cancer Fund & Campaign for Safe Cosmetics] "He took action to address the problem long before most of us knew there was anything to even worry about."
Read on in the full New York Times obituary.
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on February 27, 2014 at 11:36 AM in Chemicals policy reform, Choose Safe Cosmetics, Cosmetics, Household Products, Make Our Products Safe, News article | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
The New York Times reports on Johnson & Johnson's removal of formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane from baby products.
Policy Director Janet Nudelman was quoted in the article, which credits our Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, among other advocates, for pressuring the company to make the change:
"A lot of companies say they're going to do something, but in this case Johnson & Johnson actually did what they were going to do."
Read more about J&J's product reformulations in the full article.
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on January 17, 2014 at 05:21 PM in Chemicals policy reform, Choose Safe Cosmetics, Cosmetics, Create a Healthy Home, Eat & Live Better, General Public Health, General Science, Make Our Products Safe, Make Prevention a Public Health Priority, News article, Protect Your Family, Protect Yourself & the Environment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Last week, the California Safe Cosmetics Program launched a new website and searchable database that documents the presence of ingredients known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm in cosmetics and personal care products sold in California. Mandated by the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005 (championed by the Breast Cancer Fund), the database is populated with data self-reported by manufacturers.
Gretchen Lee Salter, our senior program and policy manager who worked to pass the law, says that “by disclosing cosmetics ingredients known to cause harm, the California Safe Cosmetics Program is a giant leap forward for consumers’ right to know, as well as for public health. The searchable public database exerts pressure on companies to clean up their act or be forced to acknowledge that they are intentionally adding toxic chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects to lotions, lipsticks and makeup that people use on their skin every day.”
The chemicals included in the database are drawn from lists developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Toxicology Program, the International Agency for Research on Cancer and California’s Proposition 65 list.
Anyone can search the database using specific chemical ingredients, product names or brand names. For example, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), which the National Toxicology Program reasonably anticipates is a human carcinogen, is reported to be in over 1000 products, and ethanolamines including DEA, TEA and cocamide DEA, which can lead to the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines, are reported in more than 1,500 products. Formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, appears in over 80 products. Other ingredients that are less commonly reported but that pose serious health hazards include (1) coal tars, known carcinogens found in over 30 products (mostly shampoos); (2) lead and lead acetate, present in 11 products, including Grecian Formula, a popular men’s hair dye; and (3) toluene, a toxic chemical found in 54 products, mostly nail polishes and gels. The database also includes chemicals used in fragrance that are linked to cancer and reproductive harm. The common ingredient “fragrance” is produced by mixing sometimes dozens of chemicals.
According to Janet Nudelman, our policy director and co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, “The database reveals a snapshot of a wild-west industry where cosmetics companies can and are using a shocking array of unsafe and cancer-causing chemicals in seemingly innocent products. California’s database is one more tool for consumers to use to make safer choices about cosmetics. It will also keep the pressure on companies to reformulate products to remove chemicals linked to adverse health effects.”
Under current federal law, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not have the authority to review cosmetics ingredients for safety before they come on the market, as it does with drugs, so cosmetics are among the least-regulated products on the market. The FDA does not review – nor does it have the authority to regulate – what goes into cosmetics before they are marketed for salon use and consumer use. In fact, 89 percent of all ingredients in cosmetics have not been evaluated for safety by any publicly accountable institution.
View the California Safe Cosmetics database here.
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on January 09, 2014 at 04:08 PM in Chemicals policy reform, Choose Safe Cosmetics, Cosmetics, Eat & Live Better, General Public Health, General Science, Green Our Chemical System, Household Products, Make Our Products Safe, Make Prevention a Public Health Priority, Phthalates, State Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Technorati Tags: Breast Cancer, California, California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, cocamide DEA, cosmetics ingredients, International Agency for Research on Cancer, National Toxicology Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
In the third article in a series on US retailers' efforts to curb the use of legal, but potentially harmful, chemicals in household products, writer Bill Lascher explains how Walmart has claimed to reduce the use of 10 'high priority' chemicals used in household products, but has remained silent on which chemicals they're targeting.
Breast Cancer Fund Media Relations Manager is quoted in the article:
"Essentially as Walmart goes, so goes the nation."
Click here for the full article.
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on December 19, 2013 at 04:35 PM in Chemicals policy reform, Choose Safe Cosmetics, Cosmetics, Create a Healthy Home, Eat & Live Better, General Public Health, General Science, Green Our Chemical System, Household Products, Make Informed Health Care Choices, Make Our Products Safe, News article, Protect Your Family, Protect Yourself & the Environment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
In the second article of a week-long series by The Guardian on US retailers' efforts to curb the use of harmful chemicals in household products, writer Bill Lascher describes Target's new system for ranking products for health and sustainability.
The policy revolves around a 100-point scoring system that's intended to motivate suppliers to provide healthier, more sustainable products.
"Margie Kelly of Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, an organization that advocates for public disclosure of ingredient lists and elimination of harmful chemicals in consumer products, describes Target's approach as carrot-based and Walmart's as more of a stick. Both, she says, will mean tangible changes on store shelves, and more transparency from manufacturers about what's in the products the big-box stores sell."
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on December 18, 2013 at 11:43 AM in Chemicals policy reform, Choose Safe Cosmetics, Cosmetics, Create a Healthy Home, General Public Health, Household Products, Make Informed Health Care Choices, Make Our Products Safe, Make Prevention a Public Health Priority, News article, Protect Your Family | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)