California Senator Carole Midgen is attempting to get a bill passed that will make cosmetic labeling more informative for consumers. A bill she had proposed earlier included outlawing certain phthalates as ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products. That bill was shot down but Senator Midgen hopes if her new legislation passes it will draw attention to the safety concerns of phthalates.
What are phthalates and why should we worry about them? They are a large group of chemical compounds used in the production of plastics, household articles, packages, and plant pesticides as well as cosmetics. World production of phthalates is estimated to be several million tons a year. Recent observations indicate some may be mutagenic, cancer-causing, and adversely affect human male sperm. In 2004, the European Union banned them in nail polish. The FDA said in 2004 that phthalates are safe for humans in the amounts to which we are exposed.
In the meantime, the US-based Rohm and Haas has announced worldwide approval for a newer preservative, Neolone, which is said to be a viable option for the controversial cosmetic ingredients, parabens. The most commonly used preservatives in the United States, approximated 75 to 90 percent of cosmetics have them including shampoos, makeup, lotions and deodorants. Water is the only ingredient used more frequently. In 2004, however, a study published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, reported parabens are a cause of concern. British researchers found traces of it in twenty women who had breast cancers. Parabens are believed to act like the female hormone estrogen. In high levels estrogen can cause some women to develop breast cancer.
Rohm and Haas says the key ingredient its Neolone preservative is methylisothiazolinone. This ingredient is already widely used as a preservative in shampoos to replace formaldehyde, a well-known sensitizer. While methylisothiazolinone is a sensitizer in animals, it has not been reported to be a sensitizer in shampoos for humans. Methylisothiazolinone is also used in baby products, moisturizers, body and hand preparations, and cleansing creams as well as makeup removers and suntan preparations. It is on the Canadian Hotlist, which contains information about cosmetic ingredients that have the potential for adverse affects or which have been restricted or banned. Check http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hecs-sesc/cosmetics/hotlist_m-p.htm