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Cosmetics may have to show warnings

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now taking a hard look at whether common cosmetics and personal care products that contain untested chemicals need to display a warning label to consumers.

FDA informed the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Assn. that manufacturers of products with untested chemicals may have to add a warning label: “Warning—the

safety of this product has not been

determined.”

A study by the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research organization, hasn’t found evidence of any health impact from long-term, low-dose exposure, admitted Lauren Sucher, a spokeswoman for the EWG. However, its study found that only 18 of 7귔 common products had all their ingredients fully tested for safety. “So we’re talking about over 99 percent that have never been fully assessed for safety,” Sucher said.

“Companies often do tests of short-term acute exposure to see whether their products make eyes water or skin itch. Often, however, they’re not looking at whether they might cause cancer or birth defects that are long-term and don’t affect the profitability of their products.”

While cosmetics companies counter that there’s no federal requirement that ingredients in such products be tested for safety, federal law does require products with unassessed ingredients include an FDA warning label. Until now, FDA relied on the industry to police its products.

FDA’s letter to the CTFA was called “the first glimmer of responsibility in several decades,” by Dr. Samuel Epstein, professor emeritus of environmental and occupational health at the Chicago School of Public Health at the University of Illinois.

Products that could be candidates for warning labels include mascara, liquid hand soap, and liquid hair dye, according to the EWG. FDA declined to comment because it’s still reviewing the EWG petition.

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