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EWG to Congress: Protect Our Children from Asbestos

EWG Powder

The Environmental Working Group is again urging Congress to require warning labels on talc products after Johnson & Johnson issued a recall last week of 33,000 bottles of their baby powder after testing conducted by the Food and Drug Administration found asbestos in the product. J&J voluntarily recalled lot #22318RB, which was manufactured and shipped for distribution last year.

The FDA began testing J&J talc baby powder for asbestos earlier this year after Reuters published a damning expose detailing J&J’s decades long cover up that their talc sometimes tested positive for asbestos contamination and nothing was done about it. As it were, the FDA does not require safety testing for personal-care products and cosmetics before they are marketed. Products are only tested occasionally, usually if a complaint has been made.

Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) have introduced legislation, the Act to Keep Children’s Cosmetics Safe, that would require labeling on all talc-based products and cosmetics marketed to children that could contain asbestos. The bill would require companies to use updated testing methods to ensure that their products do not contain asbestos. If companies decline to certify that products are free from asbestos, a warning to consumers would be required on the packaging that the product has not been tested and there is a risk of asbestos contamination.

“Parents should have the peace of mind in knowing that the cosmetics their children use are safe.” Dingell states in her press release. “No child should be exposed to asbestos through the use of common, everyday products.”

“Most Americans are shocked to realize that cosmetics and personal care products are one of the least regulated consumer products on the market. Yet the average American uses about ten of them every day and is exposed to about 126 unique chemicals from these products,” said Schakowsky.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency came under fire earlier this year when against the advisement of the EPAs own scientists, a new rule was announced that potentially gives the EPA power to re-introduce previously discontinued asbestos products back into the market.

No law prohibits the presence of asbestos in cosmetics. Asbestos has been banned by more than 50 nations, but its use remains legal in the U.S. The FDA does not have the power to regulate products that contain talc. Congress needs to act and pass a mighty federal bill demanding greater oversight to the existing unrestrained cosmetics industry.

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