Cosmetic hazards revealed

In August, 2005, the California Assembly passed a bill that would require cosmetics manufacturers to disclose which of their products contain chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive harm or developmental toxicity. The bill would also require companies to divulge hidden, harmful ingredients in fragrances and flavors.

This is the first time that companies using potentially damaging ingredients will be required to disclose the information. The new law upholds consumers’ right to know the ingredients in products they are using. Once this information is available in California, it will become easier for consumers in other areas to access the information. The California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005 was vigorously opposed by the cosmetics industry, which described the Bill as ‘anti-cosmetics legislation.” Cosmetics and personal care products have traditionally been subject to very little regulation in both Canada and the US.


Information on hazardous ingredients in 7500 brand name personal care products is available in an on-line searchable database, Skin Deep. Skin Deep was produced by the Environmental Working Group. It can be accessed at


People looking for products without hazardous ingredients can turn to the on-line Guide to Less Toxic Products. It provides lists of products which contain no, or few, known hazardous ingredients, as well as helpful hints and “make your own” recipes. The Guide to Less Toxic Products can be found at It was produced locally by the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia.