February 24, 2010
by Robert Tisserand
Reprinted with permission
People should expect reasonable and sensible protection from harm by those who regulate consumer products, and vulnerable groups such as children and pregnant women may need special consideration. Therefore, cosmetics that are totally free of all carcinogens and teratogens may sound like a good idea. But is it realistic? And is more legislation needed?
One problem is in that word “totally”. If you want to avoid encountering one molecule of a toxic substance, then you need to either live in a bubble, or stop eating, drinking, and breathing. Traces of cyanide, for instance, are found in foods and beverages, both natural and manufactured. That doesn’t mean its OK to consume in quantity, but toxicity is avoided by limiting the permitted amount to a few parts per million. The same goes for heavy metals and in fact most other toxins.
Why not zero tolerance? Well, in many cases it is both unrealistic, and unnecessary. All toxic substances have NOAELs (No-Adverse-Effect-Levels) even carcinogens. NOAELs are established in animal studies, and then ratcheted down by 100 or 500 or 1,000 times. These mathematical excursions are a bit arbitrary sometimes, but if anything, they result in too much protection, not too little.
A “zero tolerance” bill is on the table in the state of Colorado, and you can find more information about it here and here. Enacting this bill would mean, for example, that any amount of acetaldehyde would not be permitted in personal care products. Your body produces acetaldehyde whenever you drink alcohol, as it’s the major metabolite of ethanol. And chronic alcoholism can lead to cancer, with acetaldehyde the main suspect. Acetaldehyde is also a trace constituent of apples, bananas, bilberries, cherries, citrus fruits, cranberries, grapes, olives, passionfruit, peaches, plums, strawberries, raspberries, carrots, celery, cucumbers, garlic, onions, peas, potatoes and tomatoes. So, goodbye fruit extracts in cosmetics.
If you see a strawberry only as something that contains acetaldehyde (tunnel vision), then suddenly, everything you thought was good for you, is now bad for you. But (problem number two), fruits and vegetables contain a plethora of antioxidants and antimutagens that more than compensate for any toxicity from the tiny traces of acetaldehyde they contain.
Also, goodbye to rose otto and rose absolute. It was nice knowing you. And so long to nutmeg oil, mace oil, myrtle oil, basil oil, holy basil oil, citronella oil, ho leaf oil (linalool ct), elemi oil, and many other less common essential oils. Not because they contain acetaldehyde, but because they contain methyleugenol (ME). ME is occasionally found in traces in rosemary oil, clove oil, hyssop oil, tea tree oil, cananga oil, mastic oil, cassia oil, cinnamon leaf oil, savory oil, black pepper oil and, again, many others. Have you eaten any fresh basil or pesto lately? Then you have been consuming ME. But, neither fresh basil nor pesto is carcinogenic, because they also contain antimutagens and anticarcinogens that counteract any toxic effect of ME. I’m not just saying this, it has been demonstrated. The same goes for holy basil oil, to take one example – not only is it non-carcinogenic, but it is actually anticarcinogenic. The high content of geraniol in rose otto is almost certainly protective because of its anticarcinogenic action.
Does this make a difference? Not if you have tunnel vision.
The Environmental Working Group (and associated Skin Deep and Campaign for Safe Cosmetics) is an increasingly vociferous pressure group, which is now flexing its political muscle. Everywhere these people look, they find dangerous toxins, and guess what – if you look for them you will find them. And, if your vision becomes so narrow that all you can see is toxins, and the poor fetuses and children that you convince yourself they must be harming, it becomes difficult to take a step back and see the big picture. The EWG do not seem to appreciate that finding a substance in human tissue does not necessarily mean that the owner of that tissue has been harmed.
Risk assessment has many facets (problem number three) but basically it is about deciding whether exposure to a substance in a particular way is or is not actually harmful, and where safety thresholds lie. Risk assessment is not about scaremongering, it’s not about getting people fired up about “chemicals”, and it should not be about pre-emptive and sweeping legislation. It should be about ensuring safety by looking at all aspects of a problem, and then making the best decision you can. I agree with many of the EWG campaigns. It’s just a shame that they have adopted the same “single-chemical” view of essential oils that has infected the EC legislation.
If you live in Colorado and you agree with my opinion, you should act. If you don’t live in Colorado stay vigilant, because there’s more of the same on the way.
Robert Tisserand is an esteemed aromatherapy educator, author, founder of the Tisserand Institute and consultant to the personal care products industry.
February 23, 2010
Colorado Safe Personal Care Products Act : Take Action Immediately
by Kayla Fioravanti
Reprinted with permission
If you live in Colorado or sell cosmetics into Colorado it is time for you to speak up. Colorado has a proposed a bill before them during this session known as The Colorado Safe Personal Products Act. This Act is so broad and vague that if it passes in this form the personal care shelves in stores would go bare. You can read the entire bill here. To follow the bill as it is updated click here and change the range to House Bills 1201-1250 and then scan down to 1248.
As of February 3, 2010 the bill was assigned to House Judiciary Committee. There is a hearing scheduled March 1, 2010 for sponsors and those opposing the act to be heard. The committee meets in room 0107 (in the basement of the Capitol) beginning at 1:30 pm.
You can find the phone number and email addresses of your Colorado State Representative here. The bill is sponsored in the house by Dianne Primavera phone # 303-866-4667 click here to email, Dennis Apuan phone # 303-866-3069 click here to email, Karen Middleton phone # 303-866-3911 click here to email, Joe Miklosi Cap phone # 303-866-2910 click here to email.
The Women's Lobby of Colorado is holding open meetings. They support this bill and even have the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics logo on their website. Sadly, they have fallen for the bad science that the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is using to cause hysteria. The voices of small businesses in the personal care industry need to be heard. The Women's Lobby of Colorado meetings are held at Colorado Education Association on the corner of Colfax and Grant—1500 Grant St—from 12:00-1:15 pm in the Bluebell Room. You can park free in their lot if you sign in in the lobby. Lunch will be provided. Upcoming meetings will be held March 3, March 17, March 31, February 3, April 14 and April 28.
I will go into the faults of this bill in greater depth within the next few days, but in the mean time let me point out some of the serious flaws of this bill.
"The bill creates the "Colorado Safe Personal Care Products Act" (act), which prohibits a manufacturer from knowingly selling, offering for sale, or distributing for sale or use in Colorado on and after September 1, 2011, any personal care product that contains a chemical identified as causing cancer or reproductive toxicity." HOUSE BILL 10-1248
Quick Response: Will these chemicals be ones that cause cancer when topically applied at normal usage percentges or will this information come from studies in which rats were injected with 100% concentration of said ingredients? There is a big difference between putting an diluated ingredient on the skin than injecting an ingredient into the body at full concentration.
"THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY (23) DECLARES IT TO BE IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE PEOPLE OF THIS STATE (24) TO TAKE STEPS TO ENSURE THAT PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS SOLD AND (25) USED IN THIS STATE ARE SAFE AND DO NOT CONTAIN SUBSTANCES THAT (26) CAUSE CANCER OR REPRODUCTIVE TOXICITY." HOUSE BILL 10-1248
Quick Response: There should be acceptable limits set and not a complete ban on ingredients. Many things in nature in high doses are known to cause cancer; for instance the sun!
"2 (1) "AUTHORITATIVE BODY" MEANS THE FOLLOWING AGENCIES OR (3) FORMALLY ORGANIZED PROGRAMS OR GROUPS RECOGNIZED AS (4) AUTHORITATIVE FOR PURPOSES OF IDENTIFYING CHEMICALS THAT CAUSE (5) CANCER OR REPRODUCTIVE TOXICITY:
6 (a) THE UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, (7) OR ITS SUCCESSOR AGENCY;
(8) (b) THE UNITED STATES FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, OR ITS (9) SUCCESSOR ENTITY;
10 (c) THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND (11) HEALTH, OR ITS SUCCESSOR ENTITY;
12 (d) THE NATIONAL TOXICOLOGY PROGRAM, OR ITS SUCCESSOR 13 PROGRAM; AND
14 (e) THE INTERNATIONAL AGENCY FOR RESEARCH ON CANCER, OR (15) ITS SUCCESSOR AGENCY." HOUSE BILL 10-1248
Quick Response: I think this portion of the bill gets to the heart of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), aka Skin Deep, aka Campaign for Safe Cosmetics entire agenda. The EWG wants to be that "or successor agency" mentioned in in the above list, my guess is the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel is not listed as a resource for information on cosmetic ingredient safety. Having any open ended "or successor agency" declare what causes cancer and what doesn't is dangerous.
The EPA is an interesting choice as an expert on cosmetics. I read over there list of cancer causing chemicals and only a very small handful are used in cosmetics at all. I will give further detail on this list and provide a link to it this week.
"5 25-5-1204. Prohibition - sale of personal care products (6) containing unsafe chemicals. ON OR AFTER SEPTEMBER 1, 2011, A (7) MANUFACTURER SHALL NOT SELL, OFFER FOR SALE, DISTRIBUTE FOR SALE, (8) OR DISTRIBUTE FOR USE IN THIS STATE ANY PERSONAL CARE PRODUCT (9) THAT CONTAINS A CHEMICAL IDENTIFIED AS CAUSING CANCER OR (10) REPRODUCTIVE TOXICITY. (11) 25-5-1205. Enforcement by private citizens - civil penalty. (12) (1) ANY PERSON ALLEGING A VIOLATION OF SECTION 25-5-1204 MAY (13) BRING AN ACTION AGAINST THE MANUFACTURER IN A COURT OF (14) COMPETENT JURISDICTION IN THE COUNTY WHERE THE VIOLATION (15) OCCURRED. UPON FINDING A VIOLATION, IN ADDITION TO ANY OTHER (16) RELIEF AUTHORIZED BY LAW, THE COURT SHALL ORDER THE (17) MANUFACTURER TO CEASE AND DESIST CONDUCT VIOLATING SECTION (18) 25-5-1204 AND SHALL ORDER THE MANUFACTURER TO PAY THE (19) PREVAILING PARTY REASONABLE ATTORNEY FEES AND COSTS.
20 (2) A MANUFACTURER THAT VIOLATES SECTION 25-5-1204 IS (21) SUBJECT TO A CIVIL PENALTY OF UP TO FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS PER (22) VIOLATION PER PRODUCT FOR A FIRST OFFENSE, AND UP TO TEN THOUSAND (23) DOLLARS PER VIOLATION PER PRODUCT FOR A SECOND OR SUBSEQUENT (24) OFFENSE. PENALTIES COLLECTED PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION SHALL BE (25) DEPOSITED IN THE GENERAL FUND." HOUSE BILL 10-1248
Quick Response: Translation, the State of Colorado cannot afford to enforce this insane bill so they are leaving it in the hands of citizens to sue cosmetic companies. After California passed California Proposition 65 there was wide spread abuse. The lawyers got rich in California and companies wasted countless man hours and dollars defending themselves from all these lawsuits.
This bill does not address "naturally occurring" substances found in natural ingredients. For instance, lead would be banned, but lead is in water and cosmetics contain water. The issue is severely complicated with naturally occurring substances since there is a complete ban and not tolerable levels.
A great example of by-product of some cosmetics is formaldehyde. In 1987, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen under conditions of unusually high or prolonged exposure. In cosmetics there is not an unusually high or prolonged exposure to formaldehyde. tissues. Formaldehyde is water soluble and is not stored in fat so it can be metabolized very quickly with a half life in the human body of about 1.5 minutes.
For a list of formaldehyde preservatives read here. Formaldehyde is naturally produced our bodies, the air that we breathe, and even the food we eat. Formaldehyde is emitted as a natural by-product in the cooking of certain vegetables like, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
How many small companies could afford to do business in Colorado if this bill passes as it is written today? Would you risk being fined $5000 or $10,000 when citizen take up bounty hunting cosmetic products for the promised cash reward? If you were completely innocent could you afford to defend yourself from these potential lawsuits?
February 16, 2010
Notes & News
The authors at aromaconnection have been otherwise occupied and we apologize that it’s been rather silent here of late. We’ll be placing some major reprints of interest in the next few days. In the meantime, here are a couple of items in the news.
According to Cosmeticsdesign.com, the EPA has issued the first of its Chemical Action Plans (CAPs) that appear to strengthen the agency’s authority regarding laws that protect Americans from exposure to harmful chemicals. With this move, the EPA appears to have a new focus on phthalates and is, of course, challenged by the American Chemistry Council (ACC). The complete EPA Phthalates Action Plan can be read here. In addition to being used as a chemical ingredient to soften vinyl plastics, Diethyl phthalates (DEP) are used as a dispersing agent for reed diffusers, a popular method of adding fragrance to the household environment. Most natural products companies avoid use of DEP and you will find cautions for its use from aromatherapy companies who choose to not use synthetic chemicals. The EPA has previously established the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program beginning in 2009, with the Notice of Tier 1 Screening of the first 67 chemicals to be evaluated (order issuance for Diethyl phthalate Jan 2010). We will be watching the evaluations and update EPA resolutions as they come about.
Robert Tisserand has launched a new website which includes his I’m Just Saying blog which is a welcome new addition to internet discussions surrounding aromatherapy and the use of essential oils.