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Governor Signs Safe Cosmetics Bill

New Law Heightens Scrutiny of Industry Safety

Contacts: Rebecca Farmer, Breast Cancer Action 415-243-9301 x16; Kevin Donegan, Breast Cancer Fund, 415-346-8223 x14, 415-307-2348 mobile; Pete Price, National Environmental Trust, 916-448-1015, 916-712-9201 mobile

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—In a landmark advance in the safety of cosmetics products, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed SB 484, the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005. The decision caps a two year campaign by Breast Cancer Action, the Breast Cancer Fund, and the National Environmental Trust to bring additional scrutiny to an industry accustomed to only minimal oversight.

“The new law has national significance,” said Luis Cabrales, California Organizer for the National Environmental Trust. “For decades the FDA has allowed the cosmetics industry to police itself. Now, California is stepping into the breach in order to address the latest science on chemicals and human health.”

The chemical and cosmetic industries both vigorously opposed the bill, mounting a major campaign to convince salon owners and workers that they would be shut down if the new law passed.  The cosmetics industry spent heavily to defeat SB 484.  Proctor and Gamble paid Sacramento lobbyists more than $90,000 in the first six months of 2005, and the Cosmetics, Toiletries and Fragrance Association (CTFA) spent more than $600,000 in the 2003-04 legislative session and the first quarter of 2005 to oppose SB 484 and other environmental health legislation in California. 

“We thank the Governor for signing this landmark bill, despite the unprecedented lobbying efforts of the cosmetics industry,” said Jeanne Rizzo, R.N., executive director of the Breast Cancer Fund. “This is an important disclosure bill and an important victory for women’s health. California has set the stage for states asserting regulatory authority around toxic chemicals in cosmetics, which the federal government has thus far refused to lead on.”

Currently, the FDA does not review cosmetic ingredients for their safety before they come to market, nor does it have the authority to recall hazardous products. SB 484 will: 

• Require cosmetics manufacturers to disclose to the state any product ingredient that is on state or federal lists of chemicals that cause cancer or birth defects.
• Allow the state Department of Health Services (DHS) to demand manufacturers supply any health related information about cosmetic ingredients.
• Authorize CalOSHA to regulate the products to protect salon workers if they determine a safety risk. 

The author of SB 484, Senator Carole Migden (D-San Francisco), applauded Governor Schwarzenegger’s action: “This is the strongest bill in the nation to protect cosmetics consumers.  It will go a long way to protect public health.” 

Schwarzenegger signed the law against a backdrop of new science related to chemicals in cosmetics. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that exposure to certain phthalates—compounds that are used in many cosmetics products—is increasing. A recent study for the National Study for Environmental Health Sciences linked higher phthalate exposure by pregnant women to birth defects and developmental problems in infant boys. Though these health affects have long been established in animal studies, recent research has shown that even very low levels of the compounds can impair reproductive development and cause birth defects. 

SB 484 was supported by a wide range of public health organizations, including Catholic Health Care West and advocates for Asian-Americans health services, as well as organized labor.  The vast majority of California salon workers are of Asian descent.

“The chemical industry opposed this bill as though it were a peasant revolt rather than a right to know bill,” said Igrejas, Andy Igrejas, Environmental Health Director of the National Environmental Trust. “Now we’ll find out what they were so afraid of.”

Over 20 California cosmetics manufacturers supported SB 484. Two-hundred companies, including Burt’s Bees and The Body Shop, have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, a pledge to replace hazardous ingredients with safer alternatives within three years, circulated by the national Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

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