Target: Margaret A. Hamburg, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration
Goal: Stop the use of the carcinogen styrene in cosmetic and cleaning products
Recently a committee convened by the National Academy of Sciences confirmed that styrene, a chemical building block used to produce a wide variety of everyday products, can cause cancer. In fact, a few recent studies endorse listing styrene as a “known human carcinogen.” This definitive label designates styrene as a dangerous substance that needs to be banned from commonly used products like cosmetics and cleaning agents all together.
While most media coverage has focused on cup and food containers made of polystyrene, these products contain only a small amount of styrene itself. Styrene is also present in automobile exhaust and cigarette smoke. However, the most troubling use of this carcinogen is in various sprays and liquids found in cosmetic and cleaning products that people use everyday. The use of styrene in these products is allowed as an ingredient in fragrances in a wide variety of consumer products.
Through the “fragrance loophole” in federal labeling law, ingredients added to provide a pleasant scent, or to mask a bad one, only need to be listed under the generic term “fragrance.” This means there is no sure way to know whether styrene is used in the lip gloss, body wash, cologne, dish soap, laundry detergent, and other common products you buy which only identify the use of “fragrance” on their labels. The only way to avoid this harmful ingredient is to avoid using all personal care products that say they contain “fragrance” but don’t list the perfume’s individual components.
Personal care products should never contain unnecessary ingredients that can cause harm to the consumer. This news is just one more reason we need to reform the outdated federal law regulating these products so that it actually protects consumers from exposure to dangerous substances such as styrene. Tell the FDA that this ingredient should be banned from personal care products.
Dear Commissioner Hamburg,
Th National Academy of Sciences recently confirmed that styrene, a chemical used in everyday personal care products, can cause cancer. Used in such consumer products as cosmetics and cleaning agents, this known human carcinogen is causing harm to unwitting users who have no idea that their product contains the chemical. Ban the use of styrene in all personal care products to protect consumers’ health.
Many consumers know styrene only as “fragrance” in their products. Through the “fragrance loophole,” ingredients added to provide a pleasant scent, or to mask a bad one, only need to be listed under this generic term. This carcinogen is harming consumers without their knowledge or explicit consent.
Personal care products should never contain unnecessary ingredients that harm the consumer. It’s time for the FDA to reform outdated federal laws regulating these products so that it actually protects consumers from exposure to dangerous substances such as styrene. I demand that you perform your duty of protecting consumers against this ingredient by banning its use in personal care products.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Diliff via Wikimedia Commons