California legislators consider banning all cosmetics with cancer-causing chemicals

California legislators consider banning all cosmetics with cancer-causing chemicals
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California is considering a bill that would ban the sale of all cosmetics in state that contain certain chemicals known to cause cancer and other health effects.

State legislators introduced a bill Tuesday that would ban makeup made with 20 highly toxic chemicals including asbestos, mercury, lead, formaldehyde and fluorinated compounds known as PFAS.

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The cosmetics under the bill would be classified as “adulterated cosmetics,” and would not be able to be sold in the state. Some of the chemicals have been linked to reproductive harm and hormone disruption in addition to cancer.

“Californians deserve to know whether the cosmetic products they purchase in the state are not harmful to their health,” said Assembly member Al Muratsuchi (D), a co-sponsor of the state bill in a statement.

“While cosmetic products sold in the U.S. are largely unregulated, other nations — and even retailers — have proactively banned or restricted the use of hundreds or thousands of cosmetic ingredients. AB 495 will protect consumers by banning the sale in California of cosmetics containing known carcinogens, reproductive toxins, and endocrine disruptors that are harmful to human health.”

Environmental and consumer advocacy groups have long argued that the US does not do enough to regulate the chemicals used in makeup and personal care products.

Toxic chemicals that cause cancer or reproductive harm have no place in any consumer products, especially those that adults and children alike apply to their bodies every day,” said Susan Little, senior California advocate for government affairs of the Environmental Working Group.

“This common-sense proposal is exactly what is needed to clean up the cosmetics aisle so that Californians can be assured their makeup, soap and shampoos don’t include harmful chemicals.”  

PFAS, one of the chemicals that would be banned under the bill, is currently under the microscope federally as the Environmental Protection Agency is working to propose new limits for the chemical in drinking water.

PFAS is used in non-stick cookware and fire retardants and its use has been linked to cancer. Advocates have long asked the EPA to set more stringent standards for the chemical, which is often found at heightened levels of drinking water near military bases.

If passed, California’s cosmetics bill would not be the first environmental issue the state has taken the lead on.

In December, California was the first state to ban the sale of animal-tested cosmetics with its Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act. The state was also the first state to effectively ban the use of plastic straws by retailers.