Environmental Health – Cosmetics & Chemicals

I recently discovered what the law requires for cosmetic products in terms of how they list the ingredients for cosmetics and what is considered a cosmetic. According to the U.S. Food and Drug,  “the law does not require cosmetic products and ingredients, other than color additives, to have FDA approval before they go on the market, but there are laws and regulations that apply to cosmetics on the market in interstate commerce.”

The FD&C Act defines cosmetics by their intended use, as “articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body…for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance” (FD&C Act, sec. 201(i)) Among the products included in this definition are skin moisturizers, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail polishes, eye and facial makeup, cleansing shampoos, permanent waves, hair colors, and deodorants, as well as any substance intended for use as a component of a cosmetic product. It does not include soap.”

Screen Shot 2019-02-14 at 7.51.30 AMAfter discovering that the law does not require cosmetic products to disclose ingredients, other than color additives. I wanted to assess the chemical content of two products used daily within my home. I utilized the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website database to gather the following information. The mission of EWG is to protect human health and the environment. EWG’s Skin Deep database gives you practical solutions to protect yourself and your family from everyday exposures to chemicals. My two products analyzed are Aquaphor and Rembrandt toothpaste. Initially, I was shocked to see that they both had some negative data points related to developmental toxicity and immunotoxicity. I also discovered more information about Endocrine Disruptors – chemicals that may interfere with the production or activity of human hormones. According to NIH, Tox Town, the disruptors include dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and plasticizers such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates.

Endocrine disruptors may be found in some plastic bottles, metal food can linings, cosmetics, detergents, medicines, flame retardants, food, toys, and pesticides.journal.pone_.0116057.g001

Some endocrine disruptors have been banned in the United States because of their human or wildlife health effects. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advised physicians to stop prescribing DES (diethylstilbestrol) in 1971.

Screen Shot 2019-02-13 at 12.22.07 AMMy Cosmetic Discovery  – We will most likely continue to use the Rembrandt toothpaste. However, we might consider seeking a substitute body ointment to replace Aquaphor. I find it interesting that no matter WHAT price point – hygiene products contain chemicals associated with a negative impact on our health and wellness. Society operates by trust and thus the community is not trained to investigate the ingredients of their cosmetic products.  Society by default trusts manufacturers to do what is right.Screen Shot 2019-02-13 at 12.28.23 AM

That is until there is a direct hazard or health risk identified like smoking cigarettes causes cancer. After this type of information becomes available especially with correlated increases in costs (healthcare, legal, tax, product, etc) society will more easily accept the truth about a product’s impact the individual’s health. Current disclosure practices don’t normally cover everyday products that are viewed to be safe in the eyes of society.

As a medical provider I will take more time to ask my patients if they are aware of the ingredients related to the processed foods and/or cosmetics used in their daily lives. I believe there should be a full disclosure law of any chemicals considered toxic and associated with all products. Such a law will allow the public to make better informed decisions about what they ingest and use on their bodies. 

Members of the health care team should join together to increase the use of going green within hospitals, ambulatory outpatient clinics and long-term care / skilled nursing facilities. Institutions delivering any type of health care for the public at large should be the leading example and ambassador of energy-efficient features utilizing sustainable green products and practices. According to data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), each day the nation’s hospitals generate close to 7,000 tons of infectious, hazardous and toxic waste. To incentivize the use of more green products and practices health care centers should receive a Green Rating and this number be placed in the entrance of the facility and publicized on their website. 

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