Thursday, October 18, 2012

Special Report: Government has little authority to stop unsafe cosmetics - Environmental Health News

"Hair stylist Natalija Josimov combed the straightening solution through her client's hair. She snapped on the blow dryer, and a plume of white vapor wrapped them in a toxic cloud. Next came the 450-degree flat iron, letting loose another sharp stink of embalming fluid that burned her eyes and made her nauseous. Every day for months, Josimov performed three or four chemical straightening treatments at a New York City salon until she fell so ill she couldn't even stay in the same room. Josimov is accustomed to odors of peroxide, nail polish and permanent wave solution. But this is different: It's Brazilian Blowout, and its secret ingredient is formaldehyde, a carcinogen linked to nose and throat cancers, leukemia, respiratory problems and other health effects. Brazilian Blowout is a dramatic example of how little authority federal and state governments have over the estimated $30-billion annual cosmetics industry – even when there is compelling evidence that ingredients are dangerous. Under federal law, cosmetics companies don't have to disclose chemicals or gain approval for the 2,000 products that go on the market every year. And removing a cosmetic from sale takes a battle in federal court. "Although the sale of Brazilian Blowout in California violated five separate state health, environmental and consumer laws and resulted in numerous acute injuries, we have not been able to get it off the market," said Michael DiBartolomeis of the California Department of Public Health."

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