Bill in Connecticut aims to stop sale of harmful cosmetics banned in EU

Many of the chemicals banned in the European Union are still used in the US in products ranging from toothpaste to shampoo and fruit juices to cheese

Published: Thursday 30 May 2019

In the US state of Connecticut, legislators have proposed what could be one of the shortest bills in the world. This three-lined bill has asked cosmetic companies to meet the chemical safety standards established by the European Union.

This could have happened because the US has one of the most relaxed standards when it comes to the use of chemicals. Toxic and carcinogenic chemicals like asbestos, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene can be found in everyday products. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen found in US hair-straightening treatments and nail polish.

Many of the chemicals banned in the EU are still used in the US in products ranging from toothpaste to shampoo and fruit juices to cheese.

EU’s approach is what is known as its Reach (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of chemicals), which basically says that manufacturers have to prove that a product is safe before it can be sold within its territory.

The US, on the other hand, has more industry-friendly policies, favoring companies to the extent that public health and the environment are being harmed. Also, the US regulators also demand high level of proof before banning or limiting a particular chemical.

Although the US has its own regulatory law called Toxic Substances Control Act which was established in 1976, experts say this is severely flawed.

While the EU has banned or restricted more than 1,300 chemicals in cosmetics alone, the US list of banned or regulated chemicals is much smaller at 11. This shows the inefficiency of current regulatory laws in the US.

This newly-proposed bill may not be passed, but it has ignited a strong conversation about use of safe ingredients in cosmetics in the US.

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