Makeup may contain potentially toxic chemicals called PFAS, study finds

(CNN) — The “No PFAS in Cosmetics Act” was launched within the US House and Senate on Tuesday, following the discharge of a brand new study that discovered excessive ranges of a marker for toxic PFAS substances in 52% of 231 make-up merchandise bought within the United States and Canada.
Some of the best ranges have been present in foundations (63%), waterproof mascara (82%) and long-lasting lipstick (62%), in accordance with the study revealed Tuesday within the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters.
In addition, the study discovered some 88% of the examined merchandise didn’t disclose on their labels any elements that might clarify these chemical markers, though that could be a requirement of the US Food and Drug Administration.
“It’s just a little stunning and hopefully a wake-up name for the cosmetics trade by way of how widespread the PFAS contamination is throughout sorts of make-up merchandise,” stated David Andrews, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, or EWG, a client group that maintains a database on private care merchandise which contain toxins.
“The commonest PFAS is polytetrafluoroethylene, the ingredient mostly often known as Teflon, or the coating on pans. But alll in all, we have now recognized 13 totally different PFAS chemicals in additional than 600 merchandise from 80 manufacturers,” stated Andrews, who was not concerned within the study.
The invoice was launched within the US Senate on Tuesday by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and within the House by Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan.
“Americans ought to be capable to belief that the merchandise they’re making use of to their hair or pores and skin are secure. To assist shield folks from additional publicity to PFAS, our invoice would require the FDA to ban the addition of PFAS to cosmetics merchandise,” stated Collins in a press release.
“Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a category of synthetic chemicals, which incorporates PFOA, PFOS, and GenX. These chemicals can bioaccumulate in our bodies over time and have been linked to most cancers, thyroid illness, liver harm, decreased fertility, and hormone disruption,” the assertion stated.
In an e-mail to CNN Health, Dingell stated, “These chemicals are in merchandise that we use each single day and most of the people do not even know the hazard they face day by day.”
The proposed act would direct the FDA to situation a proposed rule banning the intentional addition of PFAS in cosmetics inside 270 days of enactment, with a remaining rule to be issued 90 days thereafter.
Lack of disclosure
The new study used a marker for PFAS — the chemical fluorine, which is totally different than the inorganic fluorine added to consuming water — to establish the presence of PFAS chemicals within the 231 merchandise they bought from retail shops within the United States and Canada.
“We discovered fluorine as a surrogate for PFAS was in all kinds of cosmetics. We did not anticipate virtually each beauty to gentle up prefer it did,” stated study creator Graham Peaslee, a professor of physics, chemistry and biochemistry on the University of Notre Dame.
The study discovered that greater than three-quarters of waterproof mascara, practically two-thirds of foundations and liquid lipsticks and greater than half of eye and lip merchandise had excessive fluorine concentrations.
In addition, samples from 29 of the merchandise with the best ranges of fluorine have been despatched to an outdoor lab for an in-depth evaluation that might establish 53 particular PFAS chemicals. The evaluation discovered every of these 29 merchandise contained not less than 4 PFAS chemicals of concern.
However, probably the most disturbing discovering, Peaslee stated, is that 28 of the 29 merchandise by which particular PFAS chemicals have been discovered didn’t disclose these chemicals on the label.
“Some of it may very well be unintentional, as a consequence of manufacturing points, however there are a number of merchandise the place the degrees are so giant, they needed to be deliberately added for one thing like sturdiness or water resistance, as a result of that is what PFAS do very nicely,” Peaslee stated.
“Although I’ve typically endorsed my sufferers to keep away from merchandise with “perfluor” or “polyfluor” on the ingredient record, this new study issues me as a result of most of the merchandise contaminated with these compounds didn’t even record these compounds on the ingredient record,” stated Dr. Whitney Bowe, a scientific assistant professor of dermatology on the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center, who was not concerned with the study.
“Moreover, the sorts of merchandise that examined optimistic for top ranges of fluorine — and thus more likely to contain PFAS — are sometimes used near and across the eyes and lips,” Bowe stated.
That’s a hazard as a result of PFAS chemicals may be extra readily absorbed by the “skinny, delicate mucous membranes” which are near the eyes tear ducts, she stated. In addition, girls typically “lick their lips and unknowingly ingest the elements of their lipstick, which is one more route of publicity,” Bowe stated.
In response, the Personal Care Products Council, a commerce affiliation whose 600 members “symbolize greater than 90% of the U.S. magnificence trade,” stated “we’re ready for inside scientific overview” earlier than commenting.
CNN additionally reached out to the Cosmetics Alliance Canada however didn’t hear again earlier than publication.
What are PFAS?
PFAS chemicals are made up of a sequence of linked carbon and fluorine atoms, which don’t degrade within the surroundings.
“In reality, scientists are unable to estimate an environmental half-life for PFAS, which is the period of time it takes 50% of the chemical to vanish,” in accordance with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
PFAS chemicals are utilized in all kinds of merchandise: Nonstick cookware, infection-resistant surgical robes and drapes, cell telephones, semi-conductors, industrial plane and low-emissions autos.
The chemicals are additionally used to make carpeting, clothes, furnishings and meals packaging proof against stains, water and grease harm. Foods that contain numerous grease — equivalent to burgers, fries and cookies — are prime candidates for wrappers made with PFAS.
While two of probably the most ubiquitous PFAS — the 8-carbon chain perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) — have been faraway from client merchandise within the United States within the early 2000s, the trade has created many new variations. More than 4,700 sorts of PFAS existed in 2018, a quantity that rises as trade invents new types.
Newer PFAS chemicals are made with 4- or 6-carbon chains however seem to have most of the harmful well being results because the older variations, leaving shoppers and the surroundings nonetheless in danger, specialists say.
“They went to the shorter chain carbons, and also you study them, they usually do nearly the identical factor,” microbiologist Linda Birnbaum, the previous director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, in a previous CNN interview.
“Some folks name it the ‘Whack-a-Mole’ downside; others name it the chemical conveyor belt,” Birnbaum stated. “We do not actually require enough security testing earlier than issues are put in the marketplace.”
Called “without end” chemicals as a result of they don’t degrade within the surroundings, PFAS are so widespread that ranges have been detected within the blood of 97% of Americans, in accordance with a 2015 report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
PFAS in cosmetics
The indisputable fact that PFAS chemicals are added to cosmetics shouldn’t be new.
The FDA says they’re “deliberately added” to merchandise equivalent to “lotions, cleansers, nail polish, shaving cream, basis, lipstick, eyeliner, eyeshadow, and mascara” to situation, easy or make pores and skin seem shiny or to “have an effect on product consistency and texture.”
Common names for PFAS embrace “PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), perfluorooctyl triethoxysilane, perfluorononyl dimethicone, perfluorodecalin, and perfluorohexane,” the FDA stated.By regulation, all elements are speculated to listed on the product label, in descending order of magnitude. However, the FDA stated, a few of these chemicals “may even be current in cosmetics unintentionally as the results of uncooked materials impurities or as a result of breakdown of PFAS elements that kind different sorts of PFAS.”
How a lot PFAS could be absorbed by way of the pores and skin? That’s a query that must be resolved with future research, the FDA says.
What to do?
If you’re involved about PFAS chemicals within the make-up you put on, you possibly can begin by avoiding utilizing any waterproof or long-lasting merchandise. Much of the make-up with the best ranges of PFAS markers have been labeled as “wear-resistant” or “long-lasting,” the study stated.
“Although it is fascinating to have mascara or lipstick or basis that lasts just a little longer, I imagine most shoppers would reasonably go for secure merchandise which may not have the identical endurance,” Bowe stated. “They do current a reliable public security concern.”
Shopping for natural or “pure” make-up product would not at all times assist both, specialists say.
“Although many shoppers assume {that a} product labeled ‘pure’ is inherently safer for the pores and skin, that is not truly the case,” Bowe stated. “I’ve seen many manufacturers use the phrase “pure” on their labels and of their advertising, but they contain elements which are thought of controversial by way of security for people and the surroundings.
“I encourage my sufferers to buy manufacturers which are clear about their provide chain and take efforts to make sure that elements and packaging are being sourced from secure, dependable sources in a sustainable and moral manner,” Bowe stated.
Although it will not seize merchandise by which PFAS chemicals should not disclosed on labels, shoppers can use the Skin Deep database on EWG’s website to lookup particular merchandise, Andrews stated. EWG has additionally created a web page for every of the 13 chemicals they’ve seen listed on labels:
PTFE (Teflon)
Perfluorononyl Dimethicone
C9-15 Fluoroalcohol Phosphate
Octafluoropentyl Methacrylate
Polyperfluoroethoxymethoxy Difluoroethyl Peg Phosphate
Polyperfluoroethoxymethoxy Peg-2 Phosphate
Methyl Perfluorobutyl Ether
Perfluorononylethyl Carboxydecyl Peg-10 Dimethicone
Some retailers are taking motion
Some retailers, together with Walmart, Target, Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreens and Amazon, have stated they’re now searching for toxic chemicals in magnificence merchandise, together with these marketed to girls of shade, together with pores and skin lightening lotions, hair straighteners and relaxers, in accordance with the 2021 Who’s Minding the Store? A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals.
The report is a collaboration of nonprofit associate organizations, together with the environmental advocacy teams Toxic-Free Future, WE ACT for Environmental Justice and Defend Our Health.
“Restrictions on cosmetics offered by Target, Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreens and Amazon primarily apply to their non-public model magnificence merchandise,” stated report coauthor and Mind the Store marketing campaign director Mike Schade.
The World Health Organization has called out the risks of mercury in pores and skin lightening lotions, whereas research have discovered endocrine-disrupting chemicals in hair relaxers and different merchandise marketed to girls of shade. Women of shade usually use extra magnificence merchandise than different races, together with pores and skin lightening lotions, hair straighteners and relaxers.
Formaldehyde is launched into the air as a fuel when some hair options are utilized after which processed with warmth, in accordance with the US Food and Drug Administration.
“Research exhibits that ladies of shade have larger ranges of toxic chemicals associated to magnificence merchandise of their our bodies, and that is linked to larger incidences of most cancers, poor toddler and maternal well being outcomes, studying disabilities, weight problems, bronchial asthma, and different severe well being issues,” stated Taylor Morton, director of environmental well being and training at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, when the report was launched.
“Availability of secure and inexpensive client merchandise marketed to Black girls is an environmental justice situation,” stated Mount Sinai pediatrician Dr. Maida Galvez, the founding director of the New York State Children’s Environmental Health Center, in a press release on the time.
Some of the best features by firms evaluated by the report card have been within the magnificence and private care sector. The report named Ulta Beauty as probably the most improved retailer — rising from an F end in 2019 to a C grade immediately. Sephora confirmed the best enchancment over time, the report card discovered, transferring from a D in 2017 to an A immediately.
This story was first revealed on “Makeup may contain potentially toxic chemicals called PFAS, study finds”

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