New legislation in California will be the first of its kind to require disclosure of
fragrances and flavors in cosmetic products
Beth Conway, Women’s Voices for the Earth
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino) introduced a bill today that requires manufacturers to fully disclose hazardous ingredients in fragrances and flavors used in cosmetics and personal care products sold in California. Upon its passage, the California Toxic Fragrance Chemicals Right to Know Act of 2019 (SB574) will be the first such law to take effect in the nation.
“In California, we actually know more about the fragrance ingredients in products that we use to clean our homes than those that we put on our faces or bodies,” Senator Leyva said. “Consumers have a right to know what ingredients are in the beauty and personal care products they bring home to their families and use daily on their bodies. The bottom line is that no toxic ingredients should be kept secret. SB574 will empower consumers so that they can make educated decisions about which products to use with their kids and families.”
Fragrances and flavors are found in thousands of beauty and personal care products, yet there is no state or federal regulatory oversight of the safety of these ingredients. Furthermore no federal law requires the disclosure of fragrance or flavor ingredients to consumers, manufacturers or even regulatory agencies.
This labeling loophole allows dozens – sometimes even hundreds – of chemicals to hide under the word ‘fragrance’ on product labels.
Co-sponsored by Black Women for Wellness (BWW), Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP), and Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE), SB574 requires cosmetic manufacturers selling beauty or personal care products in California to publicly report any hazardous ingredient used to make a fragrance or flavor, including those linked to cancer, reproductive or developmental harm, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, allergies, and asthma — as well as air and water contaminants, and persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals (PBTs).
“It is alarming and unacceptable that companies can hide anywhere between a dozen to hundreds of chemicals in the term ‘fragrance’,” said Marissa Chan, Environmental Research and Policy Manager at Black Women for Wellness. “Salon professionals, cosmetologists, and beauticians are particularly at risk, and occupational exposure is being linked to negative health outcomes such as asthma and contact dermatitis.”
Recent data compiled by Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE), confirms that a third of all fragrance chemicals currently in use have been flagged as toxic or potentially toxic by scientists around the world.
This data compliments a report released by Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP) — Right to Know: Exposing Toxic Fragrance Chemicals in Beauty, Personal Care and Cleaning Products — which tested household products and revealed the presence of harmful fragrance chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, reproductive harm, and respiratory toxicity that did not appear on the label.
“BCPP’s recent product testing found that three out of four of the toxic chemicals detected in the beauty and personal care products we tested were fragrance chemicals.” said Janet Nudelman, Director of Program and Policy for Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, “Consumers should be able to buy great-smelling hair products, lotions, perfume and make-up without worrying that they are exposing themselves – or their families – to cancer-causing chemicals. Playing Russian roulette with secret, toxic fragrance chemicals is simply too high a price to pay for beauty.”
In addition, data shows that ten chemicals used to make flavors are flagged as carcinogens or reproductive toxicants on California’s Proposition 65 list. A total of 35 flavors are on California’s Department of Toxic Substance Control’s Candidate Chemicals List linking them to harm to human health or the environment.
“The more we learn about these ingredients, the more it is clear why ingredient transparency is so urgently needed,” said Jamie McConnell, WVE’s Director of Programs and Policy. “Not only will SB574 finally help unveil the extent to which hazardous chemicals are present in fragrance and flavor, it will help ensure safer products and encourage reformulations, because companies know that people don’t want to see chemicals linked to cancer in their body wash, or powerful allergens in their lotion.”
Although everyone is at risk of harmful chronic health concerns from unknown fragrance and flavor chemicals, kids, communities of color, pregnant women and workers in the beauty industry are particularly vulnerable. The presence of unknown, unlabeled toxicants is cause for serious concern because scientific evidence suggests that unsafe chemical exposures in our everyday lives add up to harm to human health and the environment.
In the last few years, California has led the nation in ingredient transparency, passing historic right-to-know legislation. This includes the Cleaning Products Right to Know Act of 2017 (SB 258), which provides Californians with information on hazardous ingredients cleaning products, and AB 2775, which requires manufacturers to disclose ingredients on the labels of cosmetics used by nail, hair and beauty salon workers.
Black Women for Wellness is a women-centered, multi-generational organization focused on building healthy communities and committed to the health and wellness of Black women and girls through education, empowerment and advocacy. www.bwwla.org
Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (formerly Breast Cancer Fund) is a science-based advocacy organization that works to prevent breast cancer by eliminating exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation. www.bcpp.org
Women’s Voices for the Earth is a national environmental health organization that works to amplify women’s voices to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. www.womensvoices.org
– Jamie McConnell, 406-543-3747 | firstname.lastname@example.org
– Janet Nudelman, 415-321-2902 | email@example.com
– Marissa Chan, 323-290-5955 | firstname.lastname@example.org