Cosmetics Regulation Under Fire In NYT Investigation
May 10, 2015
An investigation into the nail care industry by the New York Times finds rampant health problems among salon workers as the result of their exposure to chemicals, and a regulatory system that fails to protect them. According to Dr. David Michaels, head of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the failure lies in the standards themselves, which allow workers to be exposed to levels that are dangerous but legal. The problem stems in part from the fact, as explained on the FDA’s own website, that most chemicals in cosmetics products don’t need pre-market approval. The Times article singles out three problem chemicals in particular for the nail care industry: dibutyl phthalate, called DBP; the solvent toluene; and formaldehyde, which is used as a hardening agent in nail products. DBP is banned for used in cosmetics in the EU, and formaldehyde will be banned in the EU in 2016. A bipartisan bill recently introduced in the Senate would make a major change in how cosmetics products are regulated, but according to the Times, critics are maintaining that law is inadequate because it leaves too much regulation in the hands of industry and it would preempt state regulation.
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