Do You Know That You Have Potentially Toxic Chemicals “PFAS” in Your Cosmetics?23.11.2021
Laboratory tests have shown that high levels of the chemical may be found in more than half the cosmetics sold in Canada and the United States. A bill was recently introduced in the United States to ban PFAS.
There are many dangerous brands of cosmetics that can be found in Canada and the United States. These products contain high levels of toxic chemicals. This raises questions about the transparency of companies and federal regulation. It also raises concerns about consumer education.
The study was published in Environmental Science and Technology Letters in June 2021. It involved the testing of 231 cosmetic products, including foundations, concealers, lipsticks, and mascara, for fluorine. Fluorine is a marker of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The majority of cosmetics tested had high levels of fluorine, with 52 percent reporting high levels. Many health issues have been linked with PFAS, including obesity, diabetes and infertility.
Certain types of makeup have higher levels of PFAS than other. Laboratory tests revealed high levels of fluorine found in waterproof mascaras, foundations and liquid lipsticks.
According to the study, consumers may not be able to determine if they are at risk. Only 8% of cosmetics tested for PFAS had ingredients containing them on their labels.
Senior study author Graham Peaslee (PhD), a professor of physics at Indiana’s University of Notre Dame, said, “These results are especially concerning when you consider both the risk of exposure for the consumer combined with size and scale of a multibillion dollar industry that provides these products daily to millions of consumers.”
According to Dr. Peaslee, people who apply PFAS to their skin unknowingly when they use makeup can be exposed to these chemicals through their skin, tear ducts or inhalation, depending on how the products are applied.
Peaslee states that PFAS is a persistent chemical. It can get into the bloodstream and stay there for a while, accumulating. There is also an additional risk of environmental contamination from the manufacturing and disposal of these products. This could potentially affect more people.
Potential Health Risks from PFAS Chemicals
Human-made chemicals known as PFAS have been in many consumer products over the past decades. These include nonstick cookware, fireproof fabrics, and wrappers for fast food. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PFAS can also be found in consumer products.
Previous research regarding the health effects of PFAS did not prove, as the new study shows. According to the CDC, however, prior studies have shown that high levels of certain PFAS may cause a variety of health problems. These include:
- High levels of cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Preeclampsia is high blood pressure in pregnancy
- Low birth weight
- Children have a decreased vaccine response
- Certain cancers
Research suggests that PFAS exposure may increase the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and asthma.
A study published in The Lancet Planetary Health in February 2019 showed that prenatal PFAS exposure can lead to children’s impaired lung function. A second study, published in Diabetes Care July 2019, found that PFAS exposure is linked to increased risk of developing diabetes. A May 2020 study in Toxicological & Environmental Chemistry linked PFAS exposure with an elevated risk of diabetes and obesity.
New legislation would ban PFAS in the U.S.
Peaslee warns that consumers who wish to avoid PFAS in cosmetics might not be able to achieve this. The study did not identify major makeup brands that were completely free from PFAS.
According to a press release, the “No PFAS in Cosmetics Act” was presented in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate on June 15. The legislation would require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to issue a rule prohibiting the intentional addition of PFAS cosmetics.
According to Xindi Hu (ScD), an environmental health researcher at Mathematica, labels can deceive, as things stand now.
Dr. Hu says that even though products claim they are chemical-free, organic or clean, there is no way to tell if this is the case. The US regulations specify the criteria that food must be labeled organic. However, cosmetics are not subject to such regulations.
Hu states, “I don’t know if any brands are free from PFAS, but I hope as this issue becomes more prominent, manufacturers who are certain about the manufacturing process will be able to self-report it.” “But, regulatory oversight is still necessary.”
How to limit PFAS exposure from cosmetics
Hu states that avoiding makeup is the best way to prevent PFAS exposure. However, consumers can reduce their risk by using less makeup and reducing how often they use it. It might be beneficial to go makeup-free for a few days.
Hu suggests that they also remove makeup as soon as they return home. To reduce the risk of lipsticks getting inhaled, it’s a good idea for people to remove them before they drink or eat.
Peaslee also suggests that consumers avoid products that are waterproof, durable, or wear-resistant.
Consumers can also use EWG’s Healthy Living app from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which is a research and advocacy organization. This app provides safety information on cosmetics according to Leonardo Trasande MD, director of the Center for the Investigation of Environmental Hazards located at New York University.
The app can also be downloaded online. The app uses an ingredient database compiled from product labeling information, independent toxicology and regulatory report data to calculate hazard scores (0-10). Lower scores indicate safer products with fewer ingredients that are linked to health issues. To get safety ratings, consumers can scan barcodes of products or enter the names and brands of specific products.