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Bath and Beauty

David Suzuki targets 'dirty dozen' toxic ingredients
Last Updated: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 

The David Suzuki Foundation took aim Tuesday at a “dirty dozen” chemicals that are found in 80 per cent of the most common cosmetic products and urged better labelling laws to help consumers avoid them. .....CBC

In a report on a chemical survey, the foundation said it got 6,200 volunteers to check the ingredients listed on 12,550 everyday cosmetic products, including shampoo, toothpaste, lipstick and skin cleanser.

The volunteers specifically looked for 12 chemicals the foundation says are linked to cancer, reproductive disorders, severe allergies and asthma.

When the results came in, four out of five products on the list of 12, 550 were found to contain at least one of the 12 chemicals, said Lisa Gue, the group’s health policy analyst.

"Our survey results indicate the widespread presence of a ‘dirty dozen’ ingredients in products that we use on our bodies every day," she said. "Clearly, we need more effective regulatory action to keep these potentially harmful chemicals out of consumer products."

The foundation says there are several weaknesses in Canada's cosmetic ingredient labelling. One of the more serious is that Canadian law does not mandate listing all the ingredients that make up the fragrance inside a cosmetic product. The blanket term of “parfum” disguises a cocktail of harmful chemicals, the group says.

"The fragrance loophole clearly fails the sniff test," Gue said. "Cosmetic manufacturers should be required to specify which chemicals they use as fragrance ingredients, and potentially harmful ingredients should be replaced with safer alternatives."

More than half the 12,550 products in the survey contained parfum as an ingredient. Some 57 per cent contained more than one of the 12 ingredients, and for 1,006 products, it was impossible to find a complete ingredient list.

Personal care products that are regulated as "drugs" on the basis of therapeutic claims, such as toothpaste with tartar-fighting powers, face cream with a UV rating, or hand sanitizers with bacteria-killing properties, are not subject to labelling requirements for cosmetic ingredients.

The foundation recommends controls over when phrases such as "fragrance free" can be used on labels and says eight of the 12 chemicals in question should be banned outright from use in cosmetics.

Bisphenol-A was the most recent high-profile chemical added to the federal government's official list of toxic substances. The chemical is found in many plastics and in lining in tin cans, and its toxic designation this month, after years of intense lobbying, will make it difficult to sell anything containing BPA in Canada.
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