Senator Dianne Feinstein preempted #EarthDay2015 coverage yesterday by introducing a new bill to reform the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. And surprisingly, considering the cutthroat battle to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act, it garnered very little attention. The bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Republican Senator Susan Collins, would help the FDA regulate cosmetics. Under the current legislation, which was passed in 1938, personal care and cosmetics manufacturers are not required to disclose formulations and the FDA is only allowed to ask them to recall products. Which is how we got formaldehyde in hair straighteners, lead in lipstick and mercury in mascara. But I digress.
Here’s what scares me about this bill: According to the New York Times, the Personal Care Products Council is behind it. Here’s what gives me hope: So is the Environmental Working Group.
The bill would force companies to disclose within 15 days when their customers report serious health problems associated with the use of their personal care and cosmetic products, and to disclose “non-serious” problems like skin reactions in annual reports.
On the FDA side, five chemicals would be studied each year, beginning with propylparaben, methylene glycol, lead acetate and two preservatives that release formaldehyde.
I guess it’s a start. But regardless of what happens with this bill, consumers can do better by researching labels and refusing to buy products that contain toxic chemicals.