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TOXIC CHEMICAL FOUND
IN POPULAR BEAUTY PRODUCTS

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently released Beauty Secrets, the first-ever consumer alert on beauty products that contain dibutyl phthalate (DBP), a chemical coming under growing scientific scrutiny because of high levels found in reproductive age women and possible risks of birth defects.

Scientific concerns about DBP's risks increased recently after a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study this fall unexpectedly found DBP in the bodies of every single person they tested, with the highest levels in reproductive-age women, the group most at risk. Scientists are concerned about DBP and reproductive age women because the chemical causes severe birth defects in lab animals. According to lab animal studies, DBP can harm nearly every physical structure in the developing male reproductive system. The effects include testicular atrophy, absent testes and reduced sperm count.

Major loopholes in federal law allow cosmetics manufacturers to put unlimited amounts of industrial chemicals like DBP into personal care products with no required testing of monitoring for adverse effects. EWG's initial investigation suggests that DBP is found in about a third of the nail polishes currently on the market, as well as a variety of other cosmetic products.

"It's buyer beware when it comes to cosmetics," said Jane Houlihan, Senior Analyst for EWG and principal author of Beauty Secrets. "Women who are considering becoming pregnant, or who are pregnant or nursing, should avoid using any products containing DBP."

To better identify consumer sources of DBP, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) shopped at a local Rite-Aid, surfed the on-line store Drugstore.com, and searched the U.S. patent office records for products that contain DBP in the patent application. EWG found:

The CDC has postulated that one of the routes of DPB exposure in young women would be cosmetics and personal care items. DBP is used to help nail polish form an even film as it dries, as a consistency enhancer to keep products blended, and as an ingredient to help cosmetics penetrate the skin. It can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled as a product is applied.

Written by: Environmental Working Group


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