Skin Deep

by JASON | 8:36 AM in |

James sez, "The web site Skin Deep covers the issues related to the lack of oversight regarding the safety of cosmetics:"

Skin Deep is a safety guide to cosmetics and personal care products brought to you by researchers at the Environmental Working Group.

Skin Deep pairs ingredients in more than 42,000 products against 50 definitive toxicity and regulatory databases, making it the largest integrated data resource of its kind. Why did a small nonprofit take on such a big project? Because the FDA doesn't require companies to test their own products for safety.

A sample listing:


Ingredients in this product are linked to:

Developmental/reproductive toxicity
Violations, restrictions & warnings
Other concerns for ingredients used in this product:
Neurotoxicity, Endocrine disruption, Persistence and bioaccumulation, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Multiple, additive exposure sources, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Enhanced skin absorption, Contamination concerns, Occupational hazards, Biochemical or cellular level changes

The level of detail is amazing.

Since Skin Deep launched in 2004, EWG has gathered information on ingredients in thousands of personal care products and has matched these chemicals with hazard data contained in more than 50 toxicity and regulatory databases.

In May 2007 EWG released a new update to Skin Deep. With this third edition, we gave the design a face-lift, but behind the scenes we also expanded nearly every aspect of the Skin Deep — more products, more companies, more toxicity databases. Our web design team crafted a new navigation scheme designed to help site users find products faster and make the complex information behind the analyses more clear.

You'll see a new dual rating system that includes both a hazard rating and a data gap rating.

* The hazard score represents a synthesis of known and suspected hazards from more than 50 definitive databases. The hazard rating of a product can be higher than for its individual ingredients — it adds up the hazards of all ingredients, and is scaled higher if the product has penetration enhancers or other ingredients that increase skin absorption. This score is similar to the rating previously shown in Skin Deep, but now accounts for more safety references and we show it on a 0-10 scale (with no decimals, 10 corresponding to highest concern).
* The "data gap" rating is a measure of how much is unknown about an ingredient. Not all ingredients have the same amount of safety data. For example, some ingredients may appear to have low hazards, but this may be due to the fact that they have not have been studied or assessed completely. Other ingredients may appear to have low hazards and have been thoroughly studied or assessed. This score helps differentiate between ingredients and products that have been studied to different degrees.

The hazard score calculation does not account for data gaps. The two scores are separately calculated. So now you can see both what is known about the safety of an ingredient, and how complete the available science is behind that safety score.

While some companies make products that are safe to eat, other companies choose to use known human carcinogens or developmental toxins. Nearly all these chemicals can penetrate the skin, and some we ingest directly from our lips or hands. More than one-third of all personal care products contain at least one ingredient linked to cancer. When risky and unstudied chemicals are used in cosmetics, the stakes can be high — unlike trace contaminants in food or tap water, chemicals in cosmetics are base ingredients.

Research shows there may be long term, gradual effects linked to chemical ingredients used in cosmetics. The components of a product are not trace contaminants like those found at part-per-million or even part-per-billion levels in food and water. These are the base ingredients of the product, just as flour is an ingredient in bread. We are finding that many chemicals associated with health hazards are stored and accumulate in the body, many passing onto unborn children.

EWG is advocating for more protective health standards. Skin Deep has begun to connect the dots, but we really need research on the safety of personal care product ingredients to be required before the bottles ever hit store shelves — and ultimately full toxicity screening of all chemicals we are exposed to before they enter the market.

The cord blood of the "In utero/newborn" group contained 213-287 of 413 industrial compounds, pollutants and other chemicals tested, including chemicals linked to birth defects and developmental delays, brain and nervous system toxicity, and cancer.

It sounds noble: a cosmetics company promises that if you buy one of its products, a portion of the sale will go toward “the fight against breast cancer.”

But what if that cosmetic contains chemicals that might actually increase your risk of developing the disease?

Many cosmetics contain chemicals known as parabens and phthalates, which recent studies indicate may be linked to cancer development.

* Parabens are chemical preservatives that have been identified as estrogenic and disruptive of normal hormone function. (Estrogenic chemicals mimic the function of the naturally occurring hormone estrogen, and exposure to external estrogens has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer.)
* Phthalates are known to cause a broad range of birth defects and lifelong reproductive impairments in laboratory animals that are exposed to these chemicals during pregnancy and after birth. Phthalates are also known to be hormone-mimicking chemicals, many of which disrupt normal hormonal processes, raising concern about their implications for increased breast cancer risk.

There are numerous other chemicals of concern in personal care products. BCA is particularly concerned about progesterone, formaldehyde and coal tar due to their links to cancer. The Environmental Working Group recently released Skin Deep, a report on the safety of cosmetics and personal care products. Astonishingly, 1/3 of products tested contain on or more ingredients that are known, probable or possible human carcinogens.

Aren't cosmetics regulated for dangerous chemicals?

Cosmetics are the least regulated products under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). The FFDCA does not require pre-market safety testing, review, or approval for cosmetics. The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pursues enforcement action only after the cosmetic enters into the stream of commerce or sometimes after it is on the shelf. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found that 884 of the chemicals available for use in cosmetics have been reported to the government as toxic substances. A U. S. General Accounting Office report notes that the FDA has committed no resources for assessing the safety problems of those chemicals which have been found to cause genetic damage, biological mutations, and cancer. Because of minimal regulation, products plainly dangerous to your health can be, and are being, sold.

Doesn't the cosmetic industry regulate itself to make sure products are safe?

FDA officials have found that many cosmetic manufacturers lack adequate data on safety tests and have generally refused to disclose the results of these tests. The FDA estimates that only three percent of the 4,000 to 5,000 cosmetic distributors have filed reports with the government on injuries to consumers. In addition, it is estimated that less than 40 percent of the nation's 2,000 to 2,500 cosmetic manufacturers are even registered.

What evidence is there that people are being directly injured by cosmetics?

In 1990, there were some 38,000 cosmetic related injuries that required medical treatment in the U.S. That figure does not include the many people who use cosmetics and suffer from allergies, irritation, and photosensitization yet accept these uncomfortable complications as the normal cost of grooming. They never visit their doctor or a hospital emergency room, and they rarely connect their allergies or irritated eyes to the cosmetics they use.

Why are humans so vulnerable to chemicals in cosmetics?

The skin is extremely permeable. Cosmetic ingredients most certainly are absorbed through the skin. Some chemicals may penetrate the skin in significant amounts, especially when left on the skin for long periods, as in the case of facial makeup. One study showed that 13 percent of the cosmetic preservative butylate hydroxytoluene (BHT) and 49 percent of the carcinogenic pesticide DDT (which is found in some cosmetics containing lanolin) is absorbed through the skin.

Did you know that only 11 percent of all personal care products are tested for safety, and that many contain carcinogens and other toxic chemicals?

The FDA has no authority to regulate the personal care products you use every day. That's where the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics comes in.

The Breast Cancer Fund is a founding member and leading partner in the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition working to protect your health by calling for the elimination of chemicals used in the cosmetics industry linked to cancer, birth defects and other health problems.

Cancer-causing chemicals in baby bath bubbles: The Campaign tested 48 bath and body products marketed for babies and kids, and found two carcinogenic contaminants, formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, in many. What does that mean for kids' health, and what can you do to avoid toxic baby products? Visit the Campaign Web site to read the whole report, "No More Toxic Tub," released March 12, 2009.

Despite marketing claims like “gentle” and “pure,” dozens of top-selling children’s bath products are contaminated with the cancer-causing chemicals formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, according to the March 2009 Campaign for Safe Cosmetics report, "No More Toxic Tub."

This study is the first to document the widespread presence of both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane in bath products for children, including baby shampoos, bubble baths and baby lotions. Many products tested contained both chemicals.

No More Toxic Tub Report....

Early this year the media reported that English researchers identified parabens in samples of breast tumors. Parabens (alkyl esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid) are widely used as antimicrobial preservatives in thousands of cosmetics, personal care products, pharmaceutical products, and food. There are six commonly used forms (Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, p-Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben, n-Butylparaben and Benzylparaben) and it is estimated that they are used in at least 13,200 cosmetics products. According to the lead researcher of the recent study, Philippa Darbre, an oncology expert at the university of Reading, in Edinburgh, the chemical form of the parabens found in 18 of the 20 tumors tested indicated that they originated from something applied to the skin, the most likely candidates being deodorants, antiperspirants, creams, or body sprays.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, accounting for nearly one of every three cancers diagnosed in U.S. women. For 2003, it is estimated that 211,300 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed in women with an additional 55,700 cases of in situ breast cancer. For many years there have been rumors that underarm deodorants and antiperspirants used by millions of women, mainly in the West, might increase the risk of breast cancer. But most researchers thought this idea seemed too far-fetched, the product of paranoid female minds, typically substituting rational scientific thinking with unsophisticated, primitive beliefs. Enter the late nineties. From 1998 on, reports started appearing stating that parabens had estrogenic-like activity in mice, in rats, and in human breast cancer cells in the lab. Since most breast cancers respond to estrogen the link between deodorants and breast cancer did not seem so outlandish anymore. So, currently, questioning the safety of applying hormone-mimicking compounds to an areas so close to the breast appears to have gained some legitimacy. In addition, estrogen/progesterone Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) was found to significantly increase breast cancer risk making the paraben/cancer connection even more plausible.

QUESTION: Which of these tactics did BPA industry lobbyists concoct?

1. Employing fear tactics like threatening consumers with limited access to affordable baby food. (Guess they don't want to talk about the safe substitutes for bottles, cups, and formula cans already on the market).

2. Using a "pregnant young mother who would be willing to speak around the country about the benefits of BPA" as their 'holy grail' spokesperson.

3. Focusing fear tactics on historically exploited populations including "Hispanic and African Amercians and the poor."

4. "Befriending people that are able to manipulate the legislative process."

5. All of the above.

ANSWER: (E) All of the above.

WASHINGTON – Some of the richest men and women in the world met secretly recently in New York to conspire on using their vast wealth to bring the world's population growth under control.

The meeting included some of the biggest names in the "billionaires club," according to the London Times – Bill Gates, David Rockefeller, Ted Turner, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffett, George Soros and Michael Bloomberg.

The meeting at the home of Sir Paul Nurse, a British Nobel Prize-winning biochemist and president of Rockefeller University, was the inspiration of Gates and took place three weeks ago.

"The informal afternoon session was so discreet that some of the billionaires' aides were told they were at 'security briefings,'" the Times reported today.

Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, speculated that the secrecy surrounding the meeting may have been due to concern that "they don’t want to be seen as a global cabal."

The philanthropists who attended a summit convened on the initiative of Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, discussed joining forces to overcome political and religious obstacles to change.

Described as the Good Club by one insider it included David Rockefeller Jr, the patriarch of America’s wealthiest dynasty, Warren Buffett and George Soros, the financiers, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, and the media moguls Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey.

These members, along with Gates, have given away more than £45 billion since 1996 to causes ranging from health programmes in developing countries to ghetto schools nearer to home.

They gathered at the home of Sir Paul Nurse, a British Nobel prize biochemist and president of the private Rockefeller University, in Manhattan on May 5. The informal afternoon session was so discreet that some of the billionaires’ aides were told they were at “security briefings”.

Gates, 53, who is giving away most of his fortune, argued that healthier families, freed from malaria and extreme poverty, would change their habits and have fewer children within half a generation.

At a conference in Long Beach, California, last February, he had made similar points. “Official projections say the world’s population will peak at 9.3 billion [up from 6.6 billion today] but with charitable initiatives, such as better reproductive healthcare, we think we can cap that at 8.3 billion,” Gates said then.

Patricia Stonesifer, former chief executive of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which gives more than £2 billion a year to good causes, attended the Rockefeller summit. She said the billionaires met to “discuss how to increase giving” and they intended to “continue the dialogue” over the next few months.

Another guest said there was “nothing as crude as a vote” but a consensus emerged that they would back a strategy in which population growth would be tackled as a potentially disastrous environmental, social and industrial threat.

“This is something so nightmarish that everyone in this group agreed it needs big-brain answers,” said the guest. “They need to be independent of government agencies, which are unable to head off the disaster we all see looming.”

Why all the secrecy? “They wanted to speak rich to rich without worrying anything they said would end up in the newspapers, painting them as an alternative world government,” he said.

Wonder if any of these industry leaders has ownership in the cosmetics industry?

For more detail see my other related posts....