ARE YOUR PERSONAL
CARE PRODUCTS SAFE?
Written by: Environmental Working Group. EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C., that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.
Through a new, interactive personal care product safety guide, "Skin Deep," consumers can consult brand-by-brand safety ratings for more than 14,000 products. "Skin Deep" fills the information gap left by an industry that markets thousand of products with ingredients that have not been assessed for safety by either industry or government health experts. Those safety decisions are made behind closed doors, guided by an industry-funded panel, without the benefit of peer-reviewed pre-market testing. The industry's own panel has screened only 11 percent of 10,500 ingredients for safety.
The searchable "Skin Deep" database features in-depth information on shampoos, lotions, deodorants, sunscreens and other products from almost 1,000 brands, built from a core of 37 toxicity and regulatory databases.
Consumers can use "Skin Deep" to create customized shopping lists - products free of fragrances or carcinogens, for instance - while manufacturers can construct one-of-a-kind safety assessments, rating all their product ingredients at once to aid reformulation plans.
"Most of us expect that the products we find on store shelves have been tested for safety, but the government has no authority to require tests," said Environmental Working Group (EWG) Vice President for Science Jane Houlihan. "An average adult is exposed to over 100 unique chemicals in personal care products every day - these exposures add up."
There is no industry-wide safety standard for personal care products or ingredients, and in a September 29 response to an EWG petition, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it would not set one. Industry now decides what is safe for consumers, and it does so with no guidelines whatsoever.
"Without federal oversight or standards, companies should inform consumers of their own internal studies, and how they decide if a product or ingredient is safe enough to sell," Houlihan said.
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