Today, I’m going to chat about education and our top tips! When you start to look at toxic products in your household, it’s sometimes overwhelming, but BCPP has some easy recommendations to follow.Read More
As seen on Frensche, Post by Nicole Parker, BCPP Development Manager
October is traditionally known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but for us at Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, it’s Breast Cancer Prevention Month! Currently, 1 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer, a stat all too many of us are familiar with.
When I started working at BCPP, one of the things that surprised me was that our exposure to toxic chemicals, beginning even before conception, influences the possibility of a breast cancer diagnosis. Our science-based mission of eliminating exposure to these exposures is threefold: policy + advocacy work, education + engagement, and movement of industries.
Today, I’m going to chat about education and our top tips! When you start to look at toxic products in your household, it’s sometimes overwhelming, but BCPP has some easy recommendations to follow.
My first suggestion is always eliminating fragrance or looking for companies that fully disclose their ingredients. Fragrance ingredients are often secret and contain anything from allergens to endocrine disruptors and carcinogens. The good news is this doesn’t mean you can’t wear perfume, use a floral-scented facial oil, or need to ditch that lemon-scented cleaning product. It does mean you need to look at ingredients though! I recommend using an app like Clearya or Think Dirty to help you sort through those lists that are especially long.
“Our exposure to toxic chemicals, beginning even before conception, influences the possibility of a breast cancer diagnosis.”
Don’t Get Overwhelmed
After my first day at BCPP, I came home, looked around my house, and realized I had to switch out almost everything. But you don’t have to do it all at once! Use your products, and when you run out, find something safer.
Easy Changes You Can Make Today
- Read ingredient labels! Check out our Glossary of Exposures, highlighting substances with the strongest evidence linked to breast cancer.
- Don’t be fooled by natural and organic claims. These words have little meaning in a largely unregulated personal care products industry.
- Clean your house with a wet towel. You’ll capture more grime in your house by dusting with a wet towel, and it won’t stir up dust.
- Make your own products! BCPP has created some safe home recipes, for everything from bath and body to cleaning products, located here.
- Take off your shoes at the door. Keep your home clean by avoiding toxic chemicals tracked in by your shoes.
- Ditch plastic! Plastics can leach harmful chemicals like BPA and phthalates into your food and beverages – and in turn – into you.
- If you’re one of the 1 in 8 who has been diagnosed, BCPP has created a resource guide for you as well, located here.
Choosing safer products is a lifelong process, and our goal at BCPP is to make this easier through policy reform. In fact, in California, BCPP-sponsored legislation had three big wins in September 2020 that were signed into law: Toxic Free Cosmetics Act, prohibiting 24 toxic chemicals in cosmetics in California; Cosmetic Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right to Know Act of 2020, making California the first government in the world to require the public disclosure of hazardous fragrance and flavor ingredients; and PFAS-Free Firefighting Foam Act, stopping the use of toxic PFAS in firefighting foam on flammable liquid fires. As CA goes…so does the rest of the country!
Visit our Action Center to help push forward legislative priorities to keep you and your family safe!
As you start to get into the groove of finding new products and replacing the ones you have, continue to visit bcpp.org to stay up to date on the latest science.
Visit our Tips for Prevention to learn even more.
At BCPP, our goal is to live in world where fewer women hear the words “You have breast cancer.” By supporting our work, shopping safer brands, and pushing for policy reform, our collective goal will become a reality.
Download the CFE Network Election Guide on how to talk to elected officials and community leaders about protecting our communities from pollution, toxins, and toxic chemicals, and making public health a priority for all. Read More
Post By BCPP Staff
Think voting has nothing to do with your health and breast cancer? Think again! We know most breast cancer is not due to genetics, but rather other factors like environmental exposures. Our the laws and regulations that govern the environment we live in have a huge impact on breast cancer risk levels and outcomes. And, our recently released plan for reducing breast cancer in California, Paths to Prevention, includes whole sections on how our elected officials can help to foster safer and healthier environments for us to live, work, and play. Now it’s crucial that we elect the right people to help build a healthier world with less breast cancer!
BCPP is a member of the Cancer Free Economy Network, a dynamic, collaborative network that works to accelerate progress towards a society that values healthy communities above profit. In the Network’s words, “It’s time for local, state, and federal officials to put health first and protect communities whose lives are being disproportionately impacted by pollution, toxins, & toxic chemicals. We created this guide to assist you in holding them accountable for decreasing and preventing harmful environmental exposures in your community.”
Download the CFE Network Election Guide on how to talk to elected officials and community leaders about protecting our communities from pollution, toxins, and toxic chemicals, and making public health a priority for all.
Get the Election Guide
Thank you for taking part in our 25th annual Peak Hike for Prevention! We loved seeing all 377 of our dedicated hikers from 39 states across the country come together in the name of prevention. Your participation inspires each of us at BCPP to continue moving our mission forward.Read More
Letter from BCPP President & CEO Amanda Heier
Thank you for taking part in our 25th annual Peak Hike for Prevention! We loved seeing all 377 of our dedicated hikers from 39 states across the country come together in the name of prevention. Your participation inspires each of us at BCPP to continue moving our mission forward.
Thanks to you, we:
Blew past our goal of $150K
Beat our stretch goal of $160K
And raised a total of $170K all for breast cancer prevention!!
Special thanks to our Top Fundraisers:
1. Kaki Saxon-Moyce ($11,530)
2. Christina Piehl ($8,481)
3. Laura Fenster ($6,593)
4. Maggie Vanneman ($4,674)
5. Anne Simons ($3,483)
And our Top Teams:
1. Em the Gem, Captain Kaki Saxon-Moyce ($26,878)
2. Team Teton, Christina Piehl ($18,448)
3. No Toxics on Tam, Laura Fenster ($16,729)
4. Crunchi Team Prevention, Kelly Kreusler ($9,516)
5. P11, Ellen Kahn ($5,785)
We appreciate each of you for all your efforts to fundraise on our behalf. You are our best ambassadors, spreading the message of prevention far and wide.
Fundraising will remain open until the end of the year, so there is still time to collect donations from your friends and family in support of an organization you care about.
The important funds that you raised will make an incredible impact by allowing BCPP to continue protecting you – and all of us – from chemical exposures linked to breast cancer.
Thanks again for hiking with us. We value your participation and look forward to seeing you next year for the 26th annual Peak Hike, if not before!
BCPP President & CEO
P.S. Your donation to BCPP (a 501(c)3) is eligible to be matched by most company’s giving programs. Check with your HR or corporate giving personnel to double your impact!
Major thanks to our sponsors:
I am writing to say HOORAY and thank you! Last week CA Governor Newsom signed 3 BCPP-sponsored bills into law, reducing our exposure to chemicals linked to breast cancer. As California’s the 5th largest economy in the world, these three new laws will ultimately benefit everyone, everywhere!Read More
Letter from Janet Nudelman, BCPP Director of Program & Policy and Director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
I am writing to say HOORAY and thank you! Last week CA Governor Newsom signed 3 BCPP-sponsored bills into law, reducing our exposure to chemicals linked to breast cancer.
As California’s the 5th largest economy in the world, these three new laws will ultimately benefit everyone, everywhere!
Let’s be real. 2020 has been really hard, which is why it’s especially sweet to have something to celebrate! We never could have gotten these bills over the finish line without your calls, letters, social posts, moral support, and donations.
Thanks to your support, we:
- Banned 24 of the most toxic chemicals on the planet from beauty and personal care products sold in CA, including mercury, four types of formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates and more! Most of these are linked to breast cancer and an increased susceptibility to COVID-19! Learn more
- Forced the disclosure of secret, toxic chemicals that hide in beauty and personal care products sold in CA that smell or taste good under the words ‘fragrance’ or ‘flavor’ on product labels. Many of these chemicals are endocrine disrupting compounds linked to breast cancer and other serious diseases. Learn more
- Protected our heroic firefighters and our drinking water by banning the toxic PFAS “forever” chemicals from firefighting foam sold or used in CA. PFAS chemicals are linked to breast and other cancers, cause reproductive and developmental harm, increase COVID susceptibility and never biodegrade, literally staying in the environment forever. Learn more
Passage of these 3 historic measures brings BCPP’s total to 15 local, state and federal laws enacted over the past 17 years. Laws that force the stricter disclosure and regulation of chemicals linked to breast cancer and bring us closer to preventing this devastating disease before it starts. We could not have done this without you.
And with your generosity, we will keep these victories coming! Please celebrate with us today and make a generous donation to fuel this work so our daughters, mothers, wives, sisters, and loved ones never have to hear those 4 words: “You have breast cancer.”
Together, we demonstrate, as Margaret Mead said, that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can indeed change the world.
Thank you again for your steadfast support.
Support Our Life-Saving Work
We teamed up with our partners in prevention to bring you businesses that support BCPP and do pink products the right way: by valuing the health of people and the planet. Check out the great brands and products below! Read More
Purchases that support our prevention work
We teamed up with our partners in prevention to bring you businesses that support BCPP and do pink products the right way: by valuing the health of people and the planet. Check out the great brands and products below!
We call October Breast Cancer Prevention Month. For over 20 years, October has signified the month to promote awareness of breast cancer and shop in support of finding a cure. Yet, 1 in 8 women in the US will still be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. That’s why we continue to shift the conversation from awareness to prevention.
Ettitude is a purpose-driven lifestyle brand with a vision for a better way of living. We make sustainably-made bedding, sleepwear, bathware and accessories from the world’s first CleanBamboo™ fabric. Everything we do is based on a mission to empower us all to live with eco-attitude, and to improve the comfort of all living things.
For every Pink Hope Pillowcase Set sold, Ettitude will donate $30 to BCPP. Enjoy free shipping on all U.S. orders when you purchase Pink Hope Pillowcase Set.
Shop natural skincare products at Honua Hawaiian Skincare. Find the skin care products you need to keep your skin radiant and flawless.
All Oct. 30% of the sale price from every bottle sold of Malu benefits BCPP. Orders over $100 get a free 1oz Pa’akai Cleansing Cream with code BCPP2020 *Must add 1oz Pa’akai Cream to cart before applying code.
Since the 1880s, ROYCE has showcased high quality leather and refined craftsmanship. Over the years our family business has grown from one generation to the next, but our vision has remained the same. We focus on functional design and remaining true to our artisanal roots, creating highly practical travel accessories that promote a seamless journey.
ROYCE donates 40% of purchases to BCPP with code “BCPP” on Royce.us
The North Face’s Pink Ribbon Collection proudly supports partners such as BCPP, focused on breast cancer prevention and an active lifestyle. Since 2006, we’ve partnered with BCPP with a shared goal of working towards a world without breast cancer.
Proceeds from this year’s collection contribute $20,000 to BCPP’s mission.
Community is core to everything we do at Balega. The Zulu word Ubuntu translates to “shared humanity” which comes to life through our Grit & Grace collection. This limited edition sock collection features new inspirational phrases each year. Do you have one that you’d like to see come to life? ENTER our Phrases Contest (10/5 – 10/30) to submit your ideas!
For every pair of Grit & Grace socks sold, $1 goes to benefit BCPP. Available through Oct. while supplies last.
Johnson Outdoors Watercraft is committed to building the finest kayaks and canoes in the world. The Ocean Kayak Venus series was specifically designed for free-spirited women. The super lightweight, easy-to-transport kayak, is loaded with features for all day comfort on the water.
Johnson Outdoors Watercraft donates 1% of Venus kayaks gross sales to BCPP!
We’re more than just a tape company. We are a movement company. We help athletes of every level go stronger, longer with the best kinesiology tape, cutting-edge education, and fitness support products. We want people to move more, and move better.
For all Oct. RockTape will donate 20% of purchase price from our Pink Tape in support of BCPP.
True Liberty® Bags are ‘The ORIGINAL All-Purpose Bags and Liners’ for people who cook, freeze, camp, hike, bike, hunt, fish, move, store, garden or grow. Our industrial-strength bags are produced in the USA from FDA-approved, BPA-free nylon: a durable, food-safe material used in countless ways.
Based in N. California, True Liberty® is a woman-owned and a community-focused company that prioritizes sustainability, service and partnerships, and is proud to support BCPP.
REMINDER: These products come from fabulous companies that financially support our efforts to prevent breast cancer, so purchases you make also support BCPP!
You can also donate directly to prevent breast cancer.
We got the wake-up call 4 years ago: my beloved wife Chen was diagnosed with breast cancer. We were shocked: why would a young and healthy yoga therapist, a vegetarian without a family history of cancer, get cancer? Read More
Guest Post by Amit Rosner
We got the wake-up call 4 years ago: my beloved wife Chen was diagnosed with breast cancer. We were shocked: why would a young and healthy yoga therapist, a vegetarian without a family history of cancer, get cancer? We will never know for sure, but according to a growing body of science, one reason could be exposure to carcinogens and hormone disruptors in our environment. A year later, following a surgery, chemo and radiation therapy, my wife recovered, and we restarted our life with a determined decision to keep toxic chemicals out of our home, and away from our two children.
Chen Rosner Orbach and Amit Rosner (Photo Credit: Michal Benedek)
Easier said than done! I remember stepping into our bathroom that day, picking up a bar of soap and a few creams to look at their ingredient lists, and realizing the magnitude of the challenge: it seemed as if these ingredient lists were intended to be indecipherable by us, the consumers. Where to start? Google doesn’t make it too easy to discern between facts and opinions, and the databases we found online were helpful, but left us with questions. These questions kept me awake at night, so I decided to use my tech experience and academic background in computational biology to develop a solution: an automatic “ingredient safety assistant” based on science and regulatory information.
It took two years of research and software development, before “Clearya” was born: for my family, and for everyone else to use: www.clearya.com
Clearya displays alerts on potentially unsafe ingredients while shopping online
Clearya is an iPhone and Android mobile app, as well as a Chrome browser plug-in for computers. Once installed, it works automatically while you shop online at Sephora, Amazon, Walmart, iHerb etc. Clearya analyzes the ingredient lists of personal care products, make-up and other beauty products, baby care, and household cleaning products, and displays alerts on potentially unsafe chemicals – so people can find products with safer ingredients more easily.
Clearya spots unsafe chemicals by matching the ingredient names (and their synonyms!) to over 15 different official toxic chemical lists, created by the California Environmental Protection Agency, the Government of Canada, the European Union’s Commission, the European Chemicals Agency, the United Nations Environment Programme, and others.
Evidently, the U.S. cosmetics regulation is so permissive, that Clearya often alerts on ingredients contained in products that are sold online despite being classified by California EPA and European regulators as linked to cancer, hormone disruptors, reproduction toxicants which may harm fertility, developmental toxicants which can cause birth defects and other harm to the developing child, not to mention allergens, and other banned or restricted ingredients.
Clearya’s technology powers a collective community effort: every time a Clearya user browses a new safe or unsafe product online, the system gets a little smarter, and these cumulative insights can serve everyone else.
We recently looked back at 8,000 products visited by users, to see how common cancer-related ingredients in personal care and beauty products are. Many of the products passed the test without any alerts. But over a hundred products contained ingredients linked with cancer, and over a thousand products had ingredients linked with estrogenic hormone disruption. The analysis surfaced two more hidden risks: (1) The extensive use of chemicals that are harmless in their pure form but are prone to be contaminated by toxic byproducts of their manufacturing process. (2) The word “fragrance” on the labels of beauty and personal care products is ubiquitous as an “ingredient” due to a federal labeling loophole, because it does not disclose the actual chemicals that make up the fragrance.
This study, in collaboration with Silent Spring Institute, will be presented in the upcoming Annual Conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology. You can read about some of our findings here.
My favorite moment when using Clearya
My takeaways from our family’s journey? Legal doesn’t mean safe. Marketing words like “Natural” don’t warrant safety either. Sadly, regulators haven’t yet closed the gap between what scientists know is harmful, and the ingredients in products that brands are still allowed to sell.
In the meantime, our mission at Clearya is to empower people to make safer choices for their families. Give it a try! Download Clearya to your iPhone, Android phone, or computer. You might be surprised by what you discover.
Now, imagine what would happen if a million people like you and I verified every ingredient and stopped buying unsafe products. How would a wave of well-informed consumers impact the industry’s safety standards? That’s our goal. Will you make a gift to BCPP today and help us expand Clearya to empower more families?
Chen Rosner Orbach and Amit Rosner (Photo Credit: Michal Benedek)
What a wild roller coaster ride 2020 has been for the Climb Against the Odds. We started out like gangbusters, filling the team in record time and even expanding from the normal team size to accommodate all that were eager to join us. Everyone jumped into fundraising and training with enthusiasm and the BCPP team worked to organize the logistics for our long weekend in Mt.Read More
Alpenglow on Mt. Shasta. Photo courtesy of Marie DeJournette
By Marie DeJournette, BCPP Outdoor Events Manager
What a wild roller coaster ride 2020 has been for the Climb Against the Odds. We started out like gangbusters, filling the team in record time and even expanding from the normal team size to accommodate all that were eager to join us. Everyone jumped into fundraising and training with enthusiasm and the BCPP team worked to organize the logistics for our long weekend in Mt. Shasta.
By April, the world was changing and we suspected that we would have to modify our plans, and by May we had rescheduled the climb from June to late July in the hopes that the COVID-19 rates would be under control. Our team continued to train.
Group training for Climb Against the Odds. Front: Laura Grishaver. Left to right: Sheila Brown, Linor Vaknin, BCPP CEO Amanda Heier, and Susan Scott. Photo courtesy of Michael Sevy.
Training hike with Jamie Earl and his son Connor. Photo courtesy of Jamie Earl.
Unfortunately, things did not pan out as hoped. Last week the BCPP staff met with board members and Shasta Mountain Guides, and there was a consensus that with the recent spikes in COVID cases, it wasn’t prudent to continue with our climb this July.
While we are not technically cancelling the climb, merely postponing it to 2021, it was a hard decision to make but we know it is the right thing to do.
We don’t want to expose the Shasta community to a large group of people coming in from other areas, nor do we want to put our climbers and staff at unnecessary risk. Although the guides have gone to extreme measures to make sure climbers are safe while they are on the mountain, it would be difficult to maintain proper distancing during our community events with our large group of climbers and supporters.
The first Climb Against the Odds took place on Mt. Aconcagua in 1995, followed by expeditions on Mt. Fuji and Denali but since 2003 the Climb has found a home on Mt. Shasta. We are so grateful to the Shasta community, for their ongoing support and for embracing our climbers each year.
Prayer flags at Horse Camp on Mt. Shasta. Photo courtesy of Linda Chitwood.
We are also extremely grateful for our sponsors continuing support and their understanding during this unfortunate turn of events.
The silver lining is that our current team will now have an extra year to train and fundraise. And we are hoping to recruit a second team to make 2021 bigger and better than ever. Hope to see you then!
Interested in climbing Mt. Shasta for breast cancer prevention with us in 2021? Click here to get started on this journey of a lifetime today!
In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, cleaning products are flying off the shelves and into our homes nationwide. While protection from coronavirus is a primary concern, we also want non-toxic options for cleaning and disinfecting our homes.Read More
By BCPP Senior Policy Strategist Nancy Buermeyer
In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, cleaning products have been flying off the shelves and into our homes worldwide. While protection from coronavirus is a primary concern, consumers also want to know if there are adverse health effects associated with the ingredients in the products we are bringing into our homes to clean and disinfect.
Knowing what’s in our cleaning products is essential for making informed choices about which products we do, and don’t, want to use. Before 2020, there was no legal requirement to label ingredients in household cleaners, including potential carcinogens, or ingredients linked to reproductive harm, potential allergic reactions or other harmful health effects. Fortunately, because of our work, consumers will finally know what’s inside their cleaning products!
CA Cleaning Product Right to Know law requires disclosing ingredients online
As of January 1, 2020, cleaning product manufacturers must post product ingredients on their websites, a result of a groundbreaking California law. BCPP sponsored the CA Cleaning Products Right to Know Act of 2017 (SB 258) along with the Environmental Working Group, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Women’s Voices for the Earth. Together, we led on every aspect of the legislative process, including the extensive and collaborative negotiations between industry and advocates that resulted in broad support and ultimate passage of this internationally historic law.
As of January 1, 2020, a list of ingredients in cleaning products, including any hazardous fragrance ingredients, can be found on product websites, such as this one for Lysol Disinfectant Spray. RB, the maker of Lysol, was closely involved in the industry/NGO negotiations for the CA bill. The law requires that harmful ingredients that appear on 23 ‘designated lists’ of hazardous chemicals be identified, in this example by the “DL” icon. In the case of this RB product, a drop-down menu provides additional information.
The law breaks new ground in several ways. It:
- Requires ingredient disclosure for cleaning products sold in CA, including disinfectants, for the first time. This is the only requirement of its kind anywhere in the world.
- Requires disclosure of fragrance ingredients down to a concentration of 100 parts per million and the full disclosure of all hazardous fragrance ingredients. No other product category, including beauty and personal care products, currently discloses fragrance chemicals (but BCPP is working to change that).
- Prohibits trade secret claims for ingredients linked to harm to human health or the environment.
- Requires disclosure of toxic contaminants, such as the carcinogen 1,4-dioxane, that aren’t intentionally added to a cleaning product but end up in products for a myriad of reasons (i.e. the manufacturing process, contamination of raw materials, chemicals that combine and create (or release) other chemicals, etc.); the first time contaminants have been disclosed on product websites.
When the Cleaning Product Right to Know law goes into effect
The ingredient disclosure requirements in the CA law will gradually expand as the law is fully implemented. Starting in January 2020, cleaning products sold in California are now required to list ingredients online. The size of the CA market (virtually every product is sold here) means this law will likely benefit most Americans.
And website disclosure is only the first step. As of January 2021, cleaning product labels will list ingredients as well, allowing consumers to review this information in stores. On-label disclosure is especially important for people without access to smart phones, computers, or the internet.
Finally, cleaning product companies must start disclosing California Prop 65 ingredients linked to cancer and reproductive harm in 2023. Major manufacturers negotiated for this extra time to reformulate their products to remove these worst of the worst chemicals. The law is clearly accomplishing one of the primary goals of ingredient disclosure: pressuring companies to remove potentially hazardous chemicals.
Business leaders in cleaning product ingredient labeling transparency
While this is the first time ingredient labeling is legally required for cleaning products, some companies have been disclosing ingredients for years. As one example, BCPP’s partner Seventh Generation has been an industry leader in disclosing the ingredients in their cleaning products. Not only do they walk the talk, Seventh Generation was a critical and active partner in passing the Cleaning Products Right to Know Act, which levels the playing field among all companies selling products in California.
The future of cleaning product ingredient transparency
This new transparency will improve the safety of cleaning products for everyone:
- Workers will know what chemicals they are being exposed to on the job, allowing them to advocate for safer alternatives.
- Consumers will have the power to make better choices for themselves and their families.
- Watchdog groups like BCPP will be able to review ingredients and educate companies and consumers alike on chemicals to avoid.
- And if the market doesn’t correct the problem, the information will provide government regulators a tool to prioritize restricting or banning the most hazardous ingredients in cleaning products.
Of course, disclosure of ingredients is only the first step in our mission to remove toxic chemicals linked to breast cancer from cleaning products and other household items, but it is a necessary first step. BCPP will use this information to push legislators and regulators to ban the use of these harmful chemicals to better protect public health.
We hope that you and your family are in good health and that this information will help you create a cleaner and safer home.
Links to resources to help you navigate this new world, keeping yourself and your family safe from both viruses and toxic chemicals:
- Women’s Voices for the Earth: Safer Disinfecting at home in the times of Coronavirus
- Learning Disabilities Association of America: Safer Disinfectants Against Coronavirus
- Environmental Working Group: 16 Effective and Safe Products to Guard Against Coronaviurs
- Healthy Schools Network: On the Pandemic Front Line: Children and Schools
- Toxics Use Reduction Institute: COVID-19: Safely Clean & Disinfect
- of Washington, School of Public Health: Fact Sheet on Cleaning and Sanitizing
- Western States Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit – AAP: Safer Disinfectant Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- EPA’s Safer Choice Program certifies products with less hazardous ingredients
- Center for Disease Control Disinfecting and Cleaning Guidance
Take Action for Ingredient Transparency
Help reduce and eliminate chemicals linked to breast cancer through our action center.
This month, we talk with two leading science and policy experts who share their history of using science to impact public health and drive change. Dive into a talk on toxic chemicals, COVID-19, environmental justice, and navigating politics during this difficult time. Read More
BCPP’s Changemakers’ Chat webinar interview series is bringing together the BCPP community and our partners during this time of uncertainty.
This month, we talk with two leading science and policy experts who share their history of using science to impact public health and drive change. Dive into a talk on toxic chemicals, COVID-19, environmental justice, and navigating politics during this difficult time.
Linda S. Birnbaum, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., A.T.S., Scientist Emeritus and the Former Director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, as well as the National Toxicology Program (NTP), positions she held from January 18, 2009 until October 3, 2019. Dr. Birnbaum is also a Scholar in Residence, Duke University. In total, Linda has worked as a federal scientist for nearly 40 years. She also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health and as a member of the editorial board of Environment International. Prior to becoming the director of the NIEHS and NTP, Linda worked at the National Toxicology Program as a senior staff fellow, then as a research microbiologist, and then as a group leader for the Chemical Disposition Group. Birnbaum then began a stint at the Environmental Protection Agency, where she directed the largest agency focused on environmental health research for 19 years. She has also served as the past president of the Society of Toxicology. Linda has authored over 600 peer-reviewed publications. Her research focuses on the pharmacokinetic behavior of environmental chemicals and their health effects. She is well known for her research on endocrine disruptors, particularly dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).
Meredith Williams is the Director of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. She was appointed to the position by Governor Gavin Newsom on December 19, 2019. Meredith joined DTSC in 2013 as Deputy Director of the Department’s Safer Consumer Products Program to lead the implementation of California’s groundbreaking effort to reduce toxic chemicals in consumer products. She has expertise in research and development, product management, and operations for Fortune 500 companies in the technology, consumer product, and chemical sectors, including 3M and Applied Materials, a leading semiconductor manufacturer. Following her work in the private sector, Meredith held a number of leadership positions at the nonprofit San Francisco Estuary Institute, a nationally recognized center for science in support of aquatic resource management.Meredith strives for collaborative solutions to complex problems and has a track record of championing interdisciplinary project management approaches. She holds a B.A. degree from Yale University and a doctorate in physics from North Carolina State University.
Amanda Heier, BCPP President and CEO
Support & Stay Tuned
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Join us for our next Changemaker’s Chat coming up soon on our events page.
Most people assume the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates beauty and personal care products in the same way it does food and drugs to protect consumer health and safety. You might be surprised to hear that this could not be farther from the truth: Cosmetics are one of the least regulated consumer products on the market today. Read More
By Janet Nudelman, Director of Program & Policy and Director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act (FDCA) into law in 1938. Back then, you could rent a house for $27/month, a loaf of bread cost 9 cents, a gallon of gas cost 10 cents, and you could buy a new car for $763. A lot has changed since the FDCA was enacted, but unfortunately for consumers a lot has stayed the same when it comes to cosmetic safety.
Most people assume the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates beauty and personal care products in the same way it does food and drugs to protect consumer health and safety. You might be surprised to hear that this could not be farther from the truth: Cosmetics are one of the least regulated consumer products on the market today.
Federal cosmetic safety protections have simply not kept pace with the rapid growth of the cosmetics industry from a $1B industry in 1938 to a $100B domestic industry today. The FDCA has only been amended twice, since 1938, and there are still only 2 pages of federal law devoted to cosmetic safety.
The cosmetics title of the FDCA provides the FDA with virtually no statutory power to perform even the most rudimentary functions to ensure the safety of an estimated $100 billion cosmetic industry.
Under existing law:
- Companies can use virtually any raw material in a finished cosmetic product – including chemicals linked to long term adverse health effects like cancer, birth defects, hormone disruption, learning disabilities, and more – without pre-market FDA safety testing or review.
- The ingredients in professional hair and nail salon products and internet sales of cosmetics do not have to be labeled.
- The secret, often toxic ingredients in fragrance do not have to be disclosed to consumers, manufacturers or even to the FDA.
- Unlike food and drugs, the FDA cannot require recalls of cosmetic products that are harming consumers or salon workers without going to court to argue the need to remove those products from the market, which seldom if ever happens.
- And, the FDA cannot require manufacturers to register their cosmetic establishments, their products, or their product ingredients, or report cosmetic-related injuries. Instead, the FDA relies on voluntary reporting of ingredients, injuries and establishments.
As a result, the FDA Does Not Know:
- The overall number of ingredients in personal care products.
- The ingredients in a particular cosmetic product that lists “fragrance” as a mask for dozens – sometimes hundreds – of individual chemicals.
- The number and location of companies that manufacture and distribute personal care products.
- The FDA doesn’t even know the extent to which adverse health impacts are occurring from harmful ingredients in cosmetic products because companies are not required by law to tell them (unlike food, toys, drugs and medical devices).
Back then, companies were using toxic chemicals like mercury, arsenic, lead and coal tar to formulate cosmetics – uses that led to the enactment of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Today companies are still using these same deadly chemicals to make and sell cosmetics because, quite simply, they can.
Newspaper headlines are rife with shocking stories of mercury in skin lightening creams, formaldehyde in hair straightening products, lead and other heavy metals in kids face paint and asbestos-contaminated baby powder. Adding insult to injury, women of color, and black women in particular, are faring the worst when it comes to cosmetic safety because of the toxic chemicals in the toxic products marketed to them. A recent NIEHS study showed that black women who regularly dye their hair have a 60% increased risk of breast cancer. Shopping in the beauty aisle shouldn’t put black women’s health at risk. Especially given black women already face a 31% breast cancer mortality rate – the highest of any U.S. racial or ethnic group.
But the sad truth is that the FDA will not, and cannot, do anything to change what has become a buyer beware, Wild West of cosmetic safety until congress gives them the power to do so.
The good news is 3 bills being considered by lawmakers in congress and in California are poised to change the ‘safe cosmetics’ conversation, finally, for the better.
The Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2019 (H.R.4296) introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-CA) is the most consumer-facing and considered the gold standard of bills introduced in congress to modernize federal cosmetic safety regulation by women’s health, environmental health, and environmental justice organizations. It is the only federal bill that holds cosmetic companies accountable for the safety of the ingredients in their products; requires supply chain transparency and industry sharing of safety data to help level the playing field for small, clean cosmetic companies; closes the federal labeling loophole that allows secret—often toxic fragrance chemicals—to hide in cosmetic products; bans most animal testing; and tackles the over-exposure to toxic chemicals experienced by communities of color and professional salon workers.
The California Toxic Free Cosmetic Act (AB2762-Muratsuchi), would ban 12 of the most toxic chemicals on the planet from cosmetics sold in California, including mercury, 4 types of formaldehyde, 2 long chain parabens, 2 of the worst of the worst phthalates, 2 common phenylenediamines found in hair dye and the PFAS ‘forever’ chemicals used to line non-stick cookware. Ten of these chemicals are linked to breast cancer, 9 are liked to increased risk of susceptibility to COVID-19, and all of these chemicals are already banned from cosmetics by the European Union.
The California Cosmetic Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right to Know Act of 2019 (SB 312-Leyva), would force the disclosure of fragrance or flavor ingredients linked to harm to human health or the environment in beauty or personal care products sold in California. This bill is the first of its kind in the nation to give consumers and professional salon workers access to information previously hidden from the public because of a federal labeling loophole which requires all of the ingredients in a cosmetic product to appear on a product label with the exception of fragrance and flavor ingredients. This bill is important because it takes a whack at antiquated trade secret protections that allow harmful ingredients to hide under that one word ‘fragrance’ or ‘flavor’ without a consumer or salon workers’ knowledge or consent.
Demand toxic-free beauty now, by visiting BCPP’s Action Center where you can contact your elected officials and let them know that 82 years is too long to wait for common-sense, much-needed cosmetic safety public health protections!
Support these safe cosmetics bills!
It’s been long enough, all people deserve safe personal care products. Help us pass these bills!