Date Published: 2 July 2005

California State (US) considers requiring listing of all potentially harmful ingredients used in cosmetics

Health News from the United States of America (USA)

There is much debate in California (USA) about proposed new law SB484, which would require cosmetic manufacturers to report to the state Department of Health Services all ingredients in their products that may cause cancer or birth defects. Proposals also include enabling consumers to check online to see if specific products incl. beauty products contain chemicals thought to cause cancers. Manufacturers would have to report a hazardous chemical no matter how small an amount is in the product.

This bill has been proposed by Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, who has said that some manufacturers hide harmful chemicals by calling them a fragrance and therefore misleading consumers. She hopes the public pressure of having to list products as carcinogens will cause manufacturers to begin to change their products.

Discussions about this proposed new legislation CA have included references to and comparisons with situations in other countries and parts of the Western World. For example, the European Union has already banned products with phthalates, a carcinogen that is a major concern of some health experts.

Europeans may watch this Californian debate with interest - especially as within the European Union there has been (and continues to be) considerable protest against proposals to restrict the availability of some vitamins and other health supplements from general sale.
In this context, a requirement that substances known to be potentially to human skin/tissue, and which are included in the ingredients of cosmetics be publicly listed together with the products that contain them - but not the products concerned removed from sale - may seem to be both liberal and in the interests of informed consumer choice.

Perhaps the real significance of this proposed legislation may only be evaluated if, and after, it has been passed - by analysing visitor statistics to the website pages that list these products/ingredients, and also in terms of any changes in products available for sale over an extended period.

Regardless of the quality of the science behind the reasons for/against this bill, providing information to consumers may only be as beneficial as publicising the availability and importance of that information. To what extend will people use it ?

SB484 must clear the full Assembly before reaching Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk. According to his office, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger does not have a position on this bill.

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