Fearmongers have infiltrated Scientific American - Cosmetic Science Talk

Fearmongers have infiltrated Scientific American

It's like the non-science based EWG wrote the article for them.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-fda-needs-more-power-to-regulate-toxic-chemicals-in-cosmetics/

They repeat typical, misleading claims...

1.  "The result is that several chemicals with realistic chances of causing toxic effects can be found in everything from shampoo to toothpaste. "  - What is a 'realistic chance of causing a toxic effect'?

2.  "research indicates it (formaldehyde) can be dangerous at the levels found in cosmetics"  - What research is this?

3.  "Other risky substances include phthalates, parabens..."  - How are parabens risky?  They've been demonstrated time and time again to be safe.

4.   "At exposures typical of cosmetic users, several of these chemicals have been linked to cancer, impaired reproductive ability and compromised neurodevelopment in children."  -  Utter bullshit.  Where is the evidence?

5.  "chemical hair straighteners and skin lighteners, which disproportionately expose them to high doses of phthalates, parabens, mercury and other toxic substances"  - Really?  BS. You don't use a higher level of parabens in these products.  And who puts Mercury in products?  Ridiculous!!

6.  "(EU) which has banned more than 1,300 chemicals from personal health or cosmetic products" - EU and US products are not different.  Banning 1300 or 13,000 chemicals makes no difference.

This shouldn't be surprising. In looking over the history of articles from Scientific American, they have regularly published BS like this about the cosmetic industry. Too bad.

Comments

  • regarding point 6: while it is true that Annex II of the Cosmetic Product Regulations has over 1,300 entries, the vast majority have not been 'banned' as such, rather, they have been prohibited ever since there has been a unified regulation across the whole EEC (as it was back in 1976), and many are things you'd never use in cosmetics anyway

    in some cases the prohibition has in effect restricted the usage of certain substances to medicines and medicines alone, as medicines have more rigorous requirements for safety testing

    I would estimate the actual amount banned due to health concerns is somewhere between a few dozen and maybe 100 at most

    even so, there is a system in place in which any health concerns must reviewed by a scientific committee to the European Parliament before any legislative action is taken, and they need very rigorous standards of scientific proof before drawing a conclusion, making them a very effective anti-lobbying measure (see here for a selection of recent reports)

    still, post-normal science / propaganda cares nothing for hard facts - let's hope it doesn't spread into other mainstream journals

    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
  • I'd be more worried about what Monsanto puts on the crops, but then again very few have the balls to fight the lobby. We are eating genetically modified seeds sprayed with glyphosate that surprisingly after 40 years of research nobody knows for sure if it's really bad or not that bad. The farmers get cancer and their kids are born with deformities, but it must be something else.

    The UN suggests not to use antibiotics for healthy livestock, and we eat more hormones in a chicken than a transgender on estrogen therapy.

    But what the hell, it must be that damn poisonous shampoo...
  • I like the glyphosphate analogy there, DAS. I just read in C&EN today about limiting DINP (diisononyl phthalate, one of the best plasticizers for PVC, HDPE resins) to 0.10% total, an ineffective level for its purpose.  This is one of the most thoroughly studied compounds on planet earth, and has yet to be found substantially harmful at even the most unrealistic exposure levels possible. Perhaps the DINP suppliers should just start calling their product "vegan" like the HBA marketers in the U.S. so bogusly do. Might help their cause.
  • I know, nothing has been proven, and I'm sure most of the cases are consequence of misuse. But we have seen monster companies pushing the limits many times. They fund and make the reviews, and they have a powerful lobby all over the world. Even if it's currently the best product I don't understand why it hasn't been tested more thoroughly by states. 

    My point is that we consume every day products that are within the safe limits, things that we don't event know about, and the summatory of everything has severe consecuences on human health. So an article like this one seems more like the easy way out instead of analyzing health problems as a whole. 
  • "Even if it's currently the best product I don't understand why it hasn't been tested more thoroughly by states."

    What has led you to the impression that the product hasn't been thoroughly safety tested?  What studies should be done that isn't done? 

    More importantly, how are the claims you're making about Glyphosate any different from the claims fearmongers make about cosmetics?

    Cosmetic fearmongers claim the Cosmetic Lobby controls government regulators.

    Cosmetic fearmongers claim cosmetics are causing cancer and haven't been appropriately safety tested.

    None of these claims are true.

    As scientists, we need to stick to making claims that we can prove with evidence.  Otherwise we risk becoming unreliable fearmongers.
  • Scold taken, it's easy sometimes to get carried away.
  • I'm sorry if that came off as scolding. It wasn't meant that way. Text is not the most efficient way to communicate.  

    I certainly agree with your point that cosmetics are much safer and better tested than many other products. It still baffles me how the food supplement industry gets away with what they do.
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