July 07, 2011
Déjà vu–It’s Still NO To SCA 2011 (HR 2359)
The so called “Safe Cosmetics Act” has been rolled out again, with even more attendant shock and awe PR from the misguided zealots at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics using misinformation on Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database. If one were to rate the importance of this bill . . . what with a fragile economy in slow recovery, an unemployment rate stuck at over 9%, entire states in disarray (WI) or in near-complete shutdown (MN), so many environmental catastrophes (Exxon-Mobil/Yellowstone River Spill) or near catastrophes (Las Alamos National Laboratory Site Fire), (Nebraska Nuclear Power Plant Missouri River Flood) . . . it logically would be of low priority. To me, there appears to be so much more urgency to address myriad larger problems facing the Nation, I sometimes feel like Atlas with that giant granite weight crushing any hope that used to glimmer that our elected leaders are going to stop their partisan bickering and get on with the business of governing and helping remedy the continuing effects of a massive economic recession. I put the importance of HR 2359 at about a –minus –minus –minus ridiculous number. I don’t know about you, but I would much prefer our lawmakers to be focusing their time and efforts on some of these macro issues desperately in need of their attention. You know, like making sure our kids can go to school 5 days a week instead of the 3 or 4 now having to be imposed because of necessary budget cuts in many states. Hello! That’s surely going to help regain academic status in the world, isn’t it, and perhaps not possibly lose an entire generation to ignorance? And you can be damned sure my colleagues and I have more important things to do than weed through a poorly written bill, obviously crafted by those with little or no knowledge in the multiple scientific disciplines necessary to understand the minutia of cosmetic formulation, and especially pertaining to essential oils and natural plant extracts – the very ingredients consumers most want in their natural personal care products.
Samara Botane/Nature Intelligence opposes Safe Cosmetic Act 2011 (HR 2359).
As much as I and many other colleagues in the personal care, spa, herbal, natural perfume and aromatherapy industries may wish it weren’t so, we are once again faced with having to raise our small voices to defend the integrity of our professional pursuits to bring safe, effective personal care products into the marketplace . . . to avoid unnecessary, sometimes impossible regulations that are not going to make cosmetics any safer than they are now and only raise consumer prices because of the additional money, time and effort to comply.
Never mind that, when this bill was first introduced in 2010, we have previously pointed out that lead has not purposefully been added to lipstick by unscrupulous manufacturers gleefully twirling their mustaches, and that it naturally occurs as an element of the Earth’s surface and is in EVERYTHING in microscopic amounts, especially natural botanical ingredients. It is in your water. How many times must one state a FACT before it is understood and accepted? This is still one of CFSC’s major talking points. It has grown to epic proportions and wends its way into many lists of toxins to avoid, such as Green America’s 9 Toxins to Avoid in Personal Care Products, a document not referenced nor annotated with any scientific substantiation. Those inclined to do more research on this matter would quickly find “Easily Led” a comprehensive thorough investigation of the claim (now urban legend), ending with the caveat, “The bottom line is that U.S. medical literature has yet to record a single case of anyone’s coming down with lead poisoning through lipstick use.” Of course, the CFSC has trotted out “Lead in Lipstick” in an attempt to overstate the danger in a desperate, somewhat hysterical hue and cry that microscopic levels of lead in lipstick at the highest tested 0.00000306 are of sufficient danger to browbeat our legislative representatives once again to put forth a bill that will never make its way through the process to become law, as it is now written. All of this frenzied PR hype (rolled out by CFSC before the bill was even publicly announced) cannot counter “A Perspective on the Safety of Cosmetic Products: A Position Paper of The American Council on Science and Health”. Nor can it counter the response from the Personal Care Products Council in 2010, nor their current response. If you’d like pleasantly-presented, factual, scientific based information on cosmetic safety, PCPC has produced this series of short videos for the consumer. You can search this site for a specific ingredient or browse by product category. If you are looking for an easily-searched, more scientific database, try Toxipedia, where you will find no alarming leading questions like “Are you sure about your lotion?” or untrue statements like “Most sunscreens aren’t safe.” such as are found on EWG’s Skin Deep. You will also not be subjected to a ineffective numerical rating system for product hazard, just scientific research and facts, no opinion . . . how refreshing.
Never mind that we have carefully critiqued and debunked Annie Leonard’s cleverly crafted propaganda video “The Story of Cosmetics” as the supreme shock and awe scare tactic hype it is. Oh, but it’s cute, and cute appears to trump rational fact and common sense these days. The sad thing is that the frenzied imagery of a masked assembly line worker purposefully inserting poison (international skull and cross bones = SCARY) into a cosmetic container, followed by the same skull and crossbones ruthlessly stamped on a baby (even more SCARY) in the bathtub does not seem to invigorate the critical thinking necessary to separate fact from overblown fiction. And, this fictional video seems to incite, rather than inform those not capable of critically assessing information by comparing with credible reference and countering professional opinion. How sad.
Examine the current FDA Authority Over Cosmetics and you will see it is comprehensive. It is true that there are issues of concern to be addressed. I believe the FDA will continue to do due diligence to insure the safety of cosmetic products. I believe that the industry will be more than willing to assist this effort and comply with reasonable regulations. HR 2359 is not the answer. At this time when we have so many stressful problems facing us, let us focus on what is urgent and necessary.
Please join me in opposing HR 2359 by signing the petition.
July 06, 2011
Ten reasons why you should not support SCA 2011
The Environmental Working Group, who have given birth to this legislation, is an incompetent organization that does not understand the science of toxicology, does not understand natural products, and that takes a biased, negative view of safety, often seeing dangers that do not exist.
- SCA 2011 requires that all ingredients of ingredients must be declared on product labels or company websites (where labels are not large enough). This unfairly targets companies that make natural products. A product containing several herb extracts and/or essential oils will have an ingredient list with thousands of ingredients. This will make reading ingredient lists harder for consumers, not easier.
- Unlike some other safety regulations, SCA 2011 does not distinguish between a naturally occurring substance (such as an ingredient of a herbal extract) and the intentional addition of a synthetic chemical. The end result of this will be that many herb extracts and essential oils will no longer be permitted as cosmetic ingredients as has already happened in Europe.
- SCA 2011 requires that “contaminants” (the word is not defined anywhere in the bill) that are present in a cosmetic at one part per billion or over be declared on the ingredients list. This expectation is naïve, unnecessary and impractical. Even pharmaceuticals are not regulated to such a degree.
- SCA 2011 requires a safety standard for cosmetics that is defined as a risk not greater than one in a million. Demonstrating this conclusively would, by definition, require testing on millions of either animals or humans. This is similarly naïve, unnecessary and impractical but if enforced, would mean that there will be no cosmetics, because it is an unreachable standard.
- The above safety standard is specifically stated to include all “vulnerable populations” including a sick person with a compromised immune system, someone with asthma, and a newborn infant. Every cosmetic produced has to present zero risk to every human being. However, zero risk is a fantasy of the EWG – it does not exist on planet Earth.
- Even though the bill includes a clause about alternatives to animal testing, the stipulations of SCA 2011 for safety testing for carcinogenicity and reproductive toxicity will necessitate the deaths of thousands of animals because there are as yet no viable substitutes for these two toxicity tests.
- The massive amount of new testing proposed by SCA 2011, and all the attendant administration will cost billions of dollars. One way or another, this cost will be passed on to consumers. This is not the time to be spending this kind of money on unnecessary legislation.
- The amount of checking, testing, listing, re-designing, re-formulating, re-printing and form-filling would be a massive burden to cosmetics companies. Some, both large and small, will go out of business, with attendant job losses.
- Labeling regulations are already onerous for any company selling internationally. Since the labeling requirements of SCA 2011 are not in line with those of any other country or region, this will create chaos in the industry.
- Although SCA 2011 delegates authority to the FDA, it also allows for any “responsible party” to file a claim that a product may cause serious adverse health effects. This is the EWG giving itself the power to endlessly pursue products or companies that it does not like.
Cosmetics safety regulations in the USA could be improved, but this is not the answer. It is over-reaching, unworkable and unnecessary.
Robert Tisserand is internationally recognized for his pioneering work in many aspects of aromatherapy since 1969 and frequent contributor to the aromaconnection blog.