What's in that stuff you're dumping your head/rubbing into your face/ pouring into your bath? How about the stuff that goes onto - and, quickly, into - your kids' bodies?
Because personal care products are essentially unregulated and sketchily labeled, it's not easy for consumers to find out exactly what ingredients are in them. And even when they do, they discover that most of these compounds haven't been safety-tested BEFORE the products went on the market.
For the past 10 years, we at Environmental Working Group have been pushing to change that. We've built a database called Skin Deep that analyzes some 60,000 products for possibly harmful ingredients. That database gets 1 to 2 million searches a month, indicating that a lot of people know and care about cosmetics safety.
Ultimately, it's the federal Food and Drug Administration's job to assure cosmetic safety. It needs more authority and flexibility to do so. That's why we're pumped about the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, introduced earlier this week by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.). Among other things, the bill would require full disclosure of cosmetic ingredients and bar or restrict chemicals linked to cancer or birth defects or toxic to the reproductive system or other systems during development.
Join us in this important national conversation. I'd welcome your comments, here on Huffington Post or on my colleague Jane Houlihan's blog, where she describes some of the more troubling findings of our laboratory research exploring the American body burden of industrial chemicals. For instance, lab tests of blood and urine samples from 20 teenage girls found 16 chemicals, including some linked to endocrine disruption and possible carcinogenicity. How dangerous are those chemicals in the very low concentrations the lab turned up? Scientists don't know. And that's not good.
As Jane points out, Americans are so vocal in their objections to mystery chemicals in their bodies that more than a thousand U.S. companies have pledged to make safer products through the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which we helped found.
We don't expect this bill to pass quickly. There are powerful interests who'll weigh in as the drafting and amending process goes on. All the more reason for consumers to let policymakers know they care and they're watching. As always, we are.