More than Half of US Cosmetics May Contain "Forever Chemicals"

More than Half of US Cosmetics May Contain Forever Chemicals image

Fifty-six percent of foundations and eye products, 48 percent of lip products and 47 percent of mascaras contained high levels of fluorine.

More than half of the make-up products sold in the United States and Canada may contain toxic chemicals, a new study suggests.

When researchers out of the University of Notre Dame tested 231 commonly used cosmetics, they found that 56 percent of foundations and eye products, 48 percent of lip products and 47 percent of mascaras contained high levels of fluorine, which suggests the possible presence of PFAS or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. These are often called "forever chemicals" because they bioaccmulate and don't break down.

“The manufacture, use, and disposal of cosmetics containing PFAS are all potential opportunities for health and ecosystem harm,” the study authros conclude. “Given their direct exposure routes into people, better regulation is needed to limit the widespread use of PFAS in cosmetics.”

Some of the highest PFAS levels were found in waterproof mascara (82 percent) and long-lasting lipstick (62 percent), according to the study which appears in the Environmental Science & Technology Letters.  When 29 products with high fluorine concentrations were tested further, they were found to contain between four and 13 specific PFAS chemicals.

Just one product had PFAS listed on the ingredient panel.

The study results come  just as a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill to ban the use of PFAS in cosmetics and other beauty products. The No PFAS in Cosmetics Act aims to ban the intentional use of these chemicals in makeup and would go into effect 270 days after it is passed. 

Exposure to PFAS may affect the immune system, and studies have linked exposure to increased cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and increased risk of kidney and testicular cancer, and preeclampsia in pregnancy, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

 “A small number of PFAS may be found as ingredients or at trace levels in cosmetics and personal care products, such as lotion, nail polish, eye makeup and foundation,” said Alexandra Kowcz, Chief Scientist, Personal Care Products Council, a trade association representing the cosmetics industry, in a statement. “Since trace amounts are not intentionally added to products, they are not required to be listed on the label. FDA recognizes their possible presence and offers guidance on allowable levels. The Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) supports FDA’s authority to review these compounds, and they have the expertise to do so."

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