Cosmetic Labeling Laws

On Oct 19th CBC released the results of a recent study by the David Suzuki Foundation on cosmetic labeling laws and the toxic chemicals found in common cosmetic products. Although the study was limited to cosmetics, cleaning products have many of the same ingredients, and the scent/perfume issues discussed in the article are in issue in cleaning products as well as cosmetics.

They focused specifically on 12 common chemicals referred to as the 'Dirty Dozen'. Although the 'final word' on some of the chemicals on the list is still outstanding (for example, although sodium lauryl sulfate is well-known to be a problem it's cousin sodium laureth sulfate gets mixed reviews by the environmental and health lobby), most of them are well-known problems.

These chemicals have been linked with long-term health issues like cancer and reproductive issues, and short-term allergic reactions in sensitive persons.

One of the things that always surprises me is the response of readers - how many are scared to believe that the products they can buy at their local grocery store may be harming their health. As a people we want to believe that government and large corporations will do it's jobs to protect it's citizens from dangers on our store shelves. Unfortunately government regulation only covers the most toxic of chemicals, and many others with long-term effects are not as regulated as we might wish.

Unfortunately, history clearly shows that it is 'buyer beware':

From 1898 through to 1910 diacetylmorphine was marketed under the trade name Heroin as a safe non-addictive morphine substitute and cough suppressant - frequently given to children.

In the same time period cocaine was added to wines as a pleasant tonic and invigorator that could speed up recovery from influenza.

Until the mid sixties - both government and industry fought tooth and nail to try to convince us that cigarett smoking was safe.

Until recently industry denied the toxicity of a plastic we know as BPA, and it was removed from toys, bottles or utensils a child might put in their mouths. It is still commonly found in the pastic inner lining of canned food.

My 'least favorite' of these chemicals is triclosan , which is still showing up in a very popular boutique brand of hand cream, despite it's well-known risks to human health and the environment. It is also marketed as 'microban' and impregnated into plastics.

Whichever way you feel on this issue, this short article is well worth reading - even if it is just to familiarize yourself with the names of suspect ingredients.

Suzuki Dirty Dozen

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