Danger of Toxic Chemical in Cosmetics?

ByABC News
November 28, 2000, 3:15 PM

Nov. 28 -- The next time you buy nail polish or antiperspirant, read the ingredients.

Manufacturers are putting a toxic chemical that causes severe birth defects in animals in shampoos, conditioners, antiperspirants, cosmetics and especially nail polishes, according to a report released today by the Environmental Working Group.

Alarmed by the discovery that dibutyl phthalate, or DBP, was present in every single person tested for the compound by the Centers for Disease Control this fall with the highest levels found in reproductive-age women the environmental group decided to study the compounds prevalence in consumer products.

Government researchers speculate the elevated levels of DBP among women of childbearing age come from cosmetics and beauty products but no one has done the studies to test this hypothesis, writes the reports lead author, Jane Houlihan.

Concerned that the most critical population appeared to receive the highest exposures to DBP, members of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group scoured both real and virtual drugstores, as well as U.S. Patent records, to find the toxin in widely used products.

We wanted to know what products containing DBP were readily available to the average consumer, and whether or not you could actually read the list of ingredients on the label, says Houlihan.

Many Popular Brands Contain DBP

The group says it discovered DBP in many popular brands, including nail polishes, top coats and hardeners made by LOreal, Maybelline, Oil of Olay and Cover Girl. In an analysis of more than 100 patents, the environmental group found Procter & Gamble, which owns both Oil of Olay and Cover Girl, held the most, with 37, followed by LOreal, with 10 patents containing DBP.

Major loopholes in federal law allow cosmetics manufacturers to put unlimited amounts of industrial chemicals like DBP into personal care products without any testing for adverse health effects, the reports says.