The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution

The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution

"... The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution": Taking Action in a Landmark Case Against the Lead-Paint Industry

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Following up on my post from last week concerning regulations in the cosmetic industry, I started looking at the policies of the Food and Drug Administration regarding the regulations of cosmetics. The information that I found expanded on the articles I read last week regarding policy changes in California and offered new insight into issues our group is interesting in concerning warning labels and industrial responsibility.

The FDA website ( sites two acts as the most important laws pertaining to cosmetics marketing in the United States. These two acts are the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. First passed in 1938, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act defines what constitutes adulterated and misbranded cosmetics. It is constantly being updated. The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act outlines the requirements for how all cosmetic products must be labeled. Following this act, which came in to play in 1966, all ingredients must be declared on every cosmetic product offered to sale and must be listed in descending order of quantity. This act also requires the use of a warning label when it states “The label of a cosmetic product shall bear a warning statement whenever necessary or appropriate to prevent a health hazard that may be associated with the product.” Even though cosmetic companies are not required by the FDA to undergo safety testing, if a product has not been tested it must have the following warning label – “WARNING: The Safety of this product has not been determined.”

Food and drugs are strictly monitored by the FDA, but the regulatory requirements for the cosmetic industry are not nearly as strict as those that apply to other FDA-regulated products. The ingredients in cosmetics are not required to undergo approval before they are sold to the public. This means that the cosmetic industry can use any ingredient to market a product without government approval. The only exception to this is color additives, which do require government review before entering the market. Despite the lack of strict regulations on the cosmetic industry, cosmetic firms are still responsible for the safety of their products.

In an article I found on the FDA website called “Clearing up Cosmetic Confusion,” Carol Lewis defines the difference between a drug and a cosmetic according the FDA. These definitions determine the level of monitoring for various products. Cosmetics are defined as products that are “applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance without affecting the body's structure or functions.” Products that are meant to treat or prevent diseases, or affect function of the human body are considered drugs. Cosmetics that make therapeutic claims are regulated as both drugs and cosmetics, and must meet regulatory requirements for both. These definitions are those used in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Reading about the current regulations on the cosmetic industry made me realize how easy it is for companies to hide possible hazards in the ingredients. This is an industry that affects nearly the whole public and there should be more awareness for the issues involved in the industry. I am very pleased that some states, like California, have been working to raise standards for this industry. This is something that should be done across the board for all states and all chemical industries.


Blogger vernongetzler said...

thanks for the such a useful information..really thanks..
vernon getzler
Bath and Body

10:09 PM  

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