I was listening to NPR last night and this guy Mark Schapiro was on Fresh Air. He just wrote a book about toxic chemicals in a bunch of US consumer products: car dashboards, computers, iPods, cosmetics, toys, etc. etc. Essentially there's a bunch of research suggesting that we should regulate these toxins or substances in our products but we don't; however, the EU has run with the research. They instituted bans on phthalates (real word! it is something that makes plastic pliable) in children's toys, which, over time, basically degrade and leak these phthalates into our environment, including kids' mouths or whatever; when toys containing phthalates are pulled from the shelves in Europe, they end up here! (Keep in mind the majority of all the toys, with phthalates or not, are made in China, but they are made to different specifications for EU versus the US.) The EU has also banned mutation-causing agents, carcinogens, and birth-defect-causing agents in cosmetics (seems sort of obvious, doesn't it?). But California was trying to pass a law stating that cosmetics company had to list (just list, not ban) the potentially harmful substances in their products, and the companies were lobbying like hell against the law. However, those same companies are selling products without all that stuff in them in the EU. Kind of scary, right? Not as scary as this: Apparently, and I did not know this (and neither did good ol' Terry Gross), the FDA does not regulate the cosmetics industry. Back when the FDA started, the makeup business was so small that it managed to wrangle itself out of FDA regulation and so it has apparently stayed. I find that sort of terrifying, given that I have no understanding of the ingredients even when they are listed on my make-up products and apparently some of them could cause cancer (not to mention contain lead, per that lipstick scandal a little while ago). I have to say that realization sort of made me pause over my mascara, which causes me major eye pain whenever it gets in my eyes (which is all the time since I am really bad about using makeup remover and usually just wash my face and let it run). Um, not to sound more like a hippie SF type, but, are organic products safer? If so I may have to make a Whole Foods make-up run.
(Mark Schapiro's book is here, the NPR story is here)