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The "No PFAS in Cosmetics Act" is scheduled to be introduced in the US House and Senate on Tuesday, following the release of a new study that found high levels of a toxic substance marker PFAS. in 52% of 231 makeup products purchased in the United States and Canada.
Some of the highest levels were found in foundation (63%), waterproof mascara (82%) and long-wear lipstick (62%), according to the study published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters.
Additionally, the study found that about 88% of the products tested did not reveal any ingredients on their labels that could explain those chemical markers, despite this being a requirement of the US Food and Drug Administration.
"It's a bit of a shock and hopefully a wake-up call for the cosmetics industry in terms of how widespread PFAS contamination is in makeup product types," said David Andrews, Senior Scientist at the Environmental Working Group, o EWG, a consumer organization that maintains a database of personal care products that contain toxins.
“The most common PFAS is polytetrafluoroethylene, the ingredient most commonly known as Teflon, or the coating on pans.
But overall, we have identified 13 different PFAS chemicals in more than 600 products from 80 brands, ”said Andrews, who was not involved in the study.
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What is the new legislation looking for?
The bill will be introduced in the United States Senate Tuesday by Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and in the House of Representatives by Democratic Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan.
“Americans should be able to trust that products applied to their hair or skin are safe.
To help protect people from further exposure to PFAS, our bill would require the FDA to prohibit the addition of PFAS to cosmetic products, ”Collins said in a statement.
'Per and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) are a class of man-made chemicals, including PFOA, PFOS, and GenX.
These chemicals can bioaccumulate in bodies over time and have been linked to cancer, thyroid disease, liver damage, decreased fertility, and hormonal disruption, "the statement said.
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In an email to CNN Health, Dingell said: "These chemicals are found in products we use every day and most people don't even know the danger they face on a daily basis."
The proposed law would direct the FDA to issue a proposed rule prohibiting the intentional addition of PFAS in cosmetics within 270 days of its enactment, with a final rule to be issued 90 days later.
Lack of disclosure
The new study used a marker for PFAS, the chemical fluorine, which is different from inorganic fluoride added to drinking water, to identify the presence of PFAS chemicals in the 231 products they purchased from retail stores in the United States and Canada.
“We found that fluoride as a substitute for PFAS was in all kinds of cosmetics.
We didn't expect almost all cosmetics to light up the way it did, ”said study author Graham Peaslee, a professor of physics, chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame.
The study found that more than three-quarters of waterproof mascara, nearly two-thirds of liquid lipsticks and foundations, and more than half of eye and lip products had high concentrations of fluoride.
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In addition, samples of 29 of the products with the highest levels of fluoride were sent to an external laboratory for in-depth analysis that could identify 53 specific PFAS chemicals.
The analysis found that each of those 29 products contained at least four PFAS chemicals of interest.
What are you most concerned about about PFAS?
However, the most disturbing finding, Peaslee said, is that 28 of the 29 products in which specific PFAS chemicals were found did not reveal those chemicals on the label.
“Some of this could be unintentional, due to manufacturing issues, but there are several products where the levels are so great that they had to be intentionally added for something like durability or water resistance, because that's what PFAS do very well. Peaslee said.
"Although I have often advised my patients to avoid products with" perfluor "or" polyfluor "in the ingredient list, this new study worries me because many of the products contaminated with these compounds did not even include them in the ingredient list. "Said Dr. Whitney Bowe, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center's Icahn School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study.
"Also, the types of products that tested positive for high levels of fluoride, and therefore are likely to contain PFAS, are often used near and around the eyes and lips," Bowe said.
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That's a danger because PFAS chemicals can be more easily absorbed by the "thin, delicate mucous membranes" near the tear ducts of the eyes, he said.
Additionally, women often "lick their lips and unknowingly ingest the ingredients in their lipstick, which is another route of exposure," Bowe said.
In response, the Personal Care Products Council, a trade association whose 600 members "represent more than 90% of the US beauty industry," said "we are awaiting an internal scientific review" before commenting.
CNN also reached out to Cosmetics Alliance Canada, but received no response prior to publication.
What are PFAS?
PFAS chemicals are made up of a chain of bonded carbon and fluorine atoms, which do not break down in the environment.
"In fact, scientists cannot estimate an environmental half-life for PFAS, which is the amount of time it takes for 50% of the chemical to disappear," according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
PFAS chemicals are used in all types of products: non-stick cookware, infection resistant surgical gowns and drapes, mobile phones, semiconductors, commercial aircraft, and low-emission vehicles.
Chemicals are also used to make carpets, clothing, furniture, and food packaging resistant to stains, water, and grease damage.
Foods that are high in fat, such as hamburgers, fries, and cookies, are prime candidates for wrappers made with PFAS.
While two of the most ubiquitous PFAS, 8-carbon chain perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), were phased out of consumer products in the United States in the early 2000s, the industry has created many new versions.
In 2018 there were more than 4,700 types of PFAS, a number that is increasing as the industry invents new forms.
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Newer PFAS chemicals are made with 4- or 6-carbon chains, but appear to have many of the dangerous health effects of older versions, leaving consumers and the environment still at risk, experts say.
"They went to the shorter chain carbons, you study them, and they do much the same thing," said microbiologist Linda Birnbaum, former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, in a previous interview with CNN. .
“Some people call it the 'Whack-a-Mole' problem;
others call it the chemical conveyor belt, ”Birnbaum said.
"We don't really require proper security testing before things are put on the market."
Called "forever" chemicals because they don't break down in the environment, PFAS are so widespread that levels have been detected in the blood of 97% of Americans, according to a 2015 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diseases of the USA
PFAS in cosmetics
The fact that PFAS chemicals are added to cosmetics is not new.
The FDA says they are "intentionally added" to products such as "lotions, cleansers, nail polish, shaving cream, foundation, lipstick, eyeliner, eye shadow, and mascara" to condition, smooth, or make skin appear shiny or to "affect product consistency and texture."
Common names for PFAS include "PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), perfluorooctyl triethoxysilane, perfluorononyl dimethicone, perfluorodecalin and perfluorohexane," the FDA said.
By law, all ingredients are supposed to appear on the product label, in descending order of magnitude.
However, the FDA said, some of these chemicals "may also be present in cosmetics unintentionally as a result of impurities in the raw material or due to the breakdown of PFAS ingredients that form other types of PFAS." .
How much PFAS can be absorbed through the skin?
That's a question that needs to be resolved with future studies, says the FDA.
If you are concerned about PFAS chemicals in your makeup, you can start by avoiding long-lasting or waterproof products.
Much of the makeup with the highest levels of PFAS markers was labeled "wear resistant" or "long-lasting," according to the study.
"While it is desirable to have mascara, lipstick or foundation that lasts a little longer, I think most consumers would prefer to opt for safe products that may not have the same staying power," Bowe said.
"They present a legitimate concern for public safety."
Buying organic or "natural" makeup products doesn't always help either, experts say.
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"Although many consumers assume that a product labeled 'natural' is inherently safer for the skin, that is not the case," Bowe said.
“I have seen many brands use the word 'natural' on their labels and in their marketing, but they contain ingredients that are considered controversial in terms of safety for humans and the environment.
"I encourage my patients to purchase brands that are transparent about their supply chain and make efforts to ensure that ingredients and packaging are sourced from safe and reliable sources in a sustainable and ethical manner," Bowe said.
Where do I find out about PFAS?
Even if you consume products in which PFAS chemicals are not disclosed on the labels, consumers can use the Skin Deep database on the EWG site to search for specific products, Andrews said.
EWG has also created a page for each of the 13 chemicals they have seen listed on the labels:
Fluoroalcohol Phosphate C9-15
Polyperfluoroethoxymethoxy difluoroethyl pin phosphate
Polyperfluoroethoxymethoxy Peg-2 Phosphate
Methyl perfluorobutyl ether
Perfluorononylethylcarboxydecyl Peg-10 dimethicone
Some retailers are taking action
Some retailers, including Walmart, Target, Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreens and Amazon, have said they are now looking for toxic chemicals in beauty products, including those marketed for women of color, including skin lightening creams, hair straighteners, and to relax the waves, according to 2021 Who takes care of the store?
Report Card on Retailers Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals.
The report is a collaboration of nonprofit partner organizations, including environmental advocacy groups Toxic-Free Future, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and Defnd Our Health.
"Restrictions on cosmetics sold by Target, Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreens and Amazon apply primarily to their private label beauty products," said report co-author and Mind the Store campaign manager Mike Schade.
The World Health Organization has pointed out the dangers of mercury in skin lightening creams, while studies have found endocrine-disrupting chemicals in hair straighteners and other products marketed for women of color.
Women of color tend to use more beauty products than other races, including skin lightening creams, straighteners to flatten and control hair.
Formaldehyde is released into the air as a gas when some hair solutions are applied and then processed with heat, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.
"Research shows that women of color have higher levels of toxic chemicals related to beauty products in their bodies, and this is linked to a higher incidence of cancer, poor maternal and child health outcomes, learning disabilities , obesity, asthma and other serious health problems, ”said Taylor Morton, director of environmental health and education for WE ACT for Environmental Justice, when the report was released.
"The availability of safe and affordable consumer products marketed to Black women is an environmental justice issue," said Mount Sinai pediatrician Dr. Maida Gálvez, founding director of the New York State Center for Children's Environmental Health, in a communicated at that time.
Some of the biggest gains for the companies evaluated by the report card were in the beauty and personal care industry.
The report named Ulta Beauty the most improved retailer, going from an F result in 2019 to a C rating today.
Sephora showed the most improvement over time, according to the report card, going from a D in 2017 to an A today.
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