Dangerous Green Hype about Cosmetics

Today, CEI releases the first of a series of studies on chemicals and the precautionary principle. Activist groups around the nation have been calling for greater regulation of chemicals, which they say would protect the public from the scourge of such things as cancer. In reality, their claims are based on junk science and their prescriptions threaten to undermine public health.

CEI’s first paper addresses activist hype related to cosmetics. Author Dana Joel Gattuso explains why consumers should not fall for the activist hype attacking cosmetics and other personal care products. In particular, she points out that if lawmakers followed consumer advice and removed certain chemicals from cosmetics, public health would suffer: “Present in quantities so small—typically, less than 1 percent of a product’s total weight—they are added to prevent contamination and to protect consumers from the buildup of dangerous bacteria that can cause eye infections, skin rashes, and even deadly infections such as E. coli and Salmonella,” Gattuso notes. She explains further:

In spite of the lack of scientific evidence of health risks from these ingredients, the anti-chemical groups have been successful in creating a climate of fear among many consumers—and lawmakers. The legislation they are promoting, the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011, would ban any cosmetic and skin care ingredients that exceed a one in a million risk of an adverse health impact—which is to say it would ban most ingredients since almost everything carries risk greater than one in a million. While the risks from products not containing these additives would be much higher, those risks would not be considered. In effect, the bill would ban the very chemicals that protect consumers.