can not legally buy a drug in the United States that has not been subjected to rigorous testing, mandated by Congress, to prove it is safe and effective. On the contrary, lipstick, shampoo, deodorant or use every day may have suffered any such evidence.
And there is reason to wonder whether these products are safe. More than 21,000 complaints of itching, rashes and hair loss, for example, have been sent to the manufacturer and distributor of hair care products Wen. And hair straightening products containing formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, have caused allergic reactions, hair loss, rashes, blisters and other problems in salon workers and their clients.
A bill introduced by two senators – Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine – change that by requiring the Food and Drug Administration to evaluate a minimum of five chemicals used in cosmetics every year and collect fees from industry to pay for those comments. The agency would also have the power to order companies to remove hazardous products and to force companies to provide safety data and reports of adverse effects to the health of consumers.
The bill has the backing of public interest groups, such as the Environmental Working Group and Network American Cancer Action Cancer Society, and much of the cosmetics industry, including large companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble. However, some manufacturers, such as Mary Kay, oppose the bill, as they argue that its provisions would be too burdensome. They are pushing a much weaker measure introduced by Representative Pete Sessions, R-Texas, that would not require the F.D.A. to check the ingredients of risk and would not give the authority to order recalls agency.
Scientists and consumers have raised numerous concerns about personal care products. Experts are particularly concerned about the use of chemicals that may not cause immediate problems, but eventually could increase the risk of cancer, reproductive disorders and other ailments.
One of the first five chemicals F.D.A. would need to look at is the lead acetate, a color additive used in hair dyes, the European Union has banned because it is linked to reproductive problems. The other four ingredients are used in shampoos, lotions and other products. The United States. It has set limits for the concentrations in which the compounds can be used.
Overall, the European authorities have restricted or banned more than 1,300 chemicals and groups of chemicals products, experts say; the F.D.A. It has banned 11 ingredients. This shocking discrepancy makes it clear how far behind the United States is in this area. It also shows that sensible regulations do not paralyze companies that make cosmetics, as many of their products are already covered by European legislation.
The bill could be stronger. Since it would require the F.D.A. to review a minimum of only five chemicals at once, years would be needed to review many chemicals that scientists and consumers are worried. In later years, the F.D.A. chemicals choose in consultation with industry groups and consumers. The legislation, a compromise between the wishes of industry groups and consumers, also would pre-empt state regulation of cosmetics. It is, however, a vast improvement over the status quo and deserves prompt attention at a session of Congress that has only a few weeks between Labor Day and the November election.