Consumers have had enough.
There are now more than 2,400 chemicals in cosmetics, including some 100 known to be carcinogenic, according to a report released this week by the Environmental Working Group.
Some, such as bisphenol A (BPA), which has been linked to birth defects and heart problems, are now banned in the U.S. and abroad.
Another is the common ingredient benzyl alcohol.
The group, which also analyzed chemicals that are commonly found in cosmetics and other products, found that consumers pay far too much for these chemicals, including a staggering $2 billion in U.K. alone last year.
And yet, cosmetics giants and the cosmetic industry continue to thrive.
Companies have lobbied Congress to ban the chemicals for years, and some even offer free, full-body spray treatments to consumers who buy the cosmetics and use it daily.
But the EWG report, based on consumer data, highlights that consumers don’t always know how to buy the products they are buying.
The report also shows that companies are using marketing tactics to mislead consumers about the chemicals’ safety, often by saying they are safer than alternatives.
What are the chemicals?
The Environmental Working Network’s report focuses on three types of chemicals: BPA, benzyl chloride and other common plastics.
Some of these chemicals have been linked in studies to birth defect, heart disease and developmental problems.
Some are carcinogenic.
(CBC)The EWG group looked at how people respond to products containing these chemicals.
In the United States, for example, some of the most popular cosmetics include body lotions, hair dyes, body lotion remover and toothpaste.
Consumers are buying cosmetics in bulk, and the EWGV found that the brands using these chemicals spend $1.2 billion on their products annually.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has warned that some of these ingredients could cause birth defects in infants and other developmental problems, including cancer.
A few brands have offered spray treatments that contain BPA and benzyl oxide, which can be toxic.
They’re called biohazardous, and they can cause skin and eye irritation and even blindness.
BPA is also used in some dental sealants and in many consumer products.
A BPA-based toothpaste has been the subject of a lawsuit in California that is currently before the U:C.
Many of the products have also been linked by the U of T’s Centre for Bioethics to heart disease, developmental problems and cancer.
For some products, the EWGP found that companies use deceptive marketing tactics that include claims that the products contain a safe alternative, such a biohazard free alternative, and that the alternative has been tested.
Some companies even advertise that the product is made with bio-safe ingredients, such bio-plastic or bio-aluminum.
But this is a marketing ploy.
There is no proven safety data that could indicate that the bio-abundant ingredients in these products will protect against cancer, birth defects or other diseases.
It is not even certain that these products are safe.
The EWG also found that many companies, including the big three, are using misleading claims to sell their products.
“This report offers consumers a glimpse into the industry’s deceptive practices,” says Julie Boudreau, an environmental justice activist who co-authored the report with former Greenpeace campaigner Peter MacKay.
Boudrieres co-wrote a report for the Environmental Defence Fund, which was recently awarded $3 million by the Ontario government to fight global climate change.
B.C.’s Ministry of Environmental Protection has warned consumers to avoid these products.
The company that sells the products, Tampax, has been asked to pay a $20,000 fine.
“We will continue to work with the industry to educate and encourage consumers to be aware of the potential health risks associated with their cosmetics,” says Boudroy.
Consumers should be aware that these chemicals are used in cosmetics by many major brands including: Chanel, Marc Jacobs, Puma, Too Cool For School, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, and others.
There’s also a growing market for alternative, non-BPA products such as beeswax, waxes, emollients and emulsifiers.
But it is important to note that there are no government regulations that specifically address the safety of these products, and consumers should not rely on the companies that offer them.
The companies selling the products say they use only BPA.
And many consumers who purchase these products say the company that supplies them does not offer an alternative.
“They don’t tell you that you can buy the other stuff or even offer to do so,” says Lisa Loughran, a senior researcher with the EWGH.
“It’s a very confusing industry.”
What can you do about it?
The EWGF recommends consumers take a look at the labels of their cosmetics and make sure the ingredients are labeled.
And consumers should