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For Immediate Release: May 27th, 2005
Contact:  Kevin Donegan, Breast Cancer Fund, 415-346-8223 x14; Stacy Malkan, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (510) 848-5343 x105


We would like to direct attention to a new study, released yesterday by Shanna Swan, an epidemiologist at the University of Rochester, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.   Swan released the results of the first human study linking phthalate exposure to birth defects in male babies.  The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is extremely concerned about this new evidence of harm, and we believe the cosmetics industry should replace all phthalates with safer alternatives immediately.  

Most cosmetics companies have agreed to remove two phthalates, DEHP and DBP, from cosmetics because the chemicals are banned from cosmetics in Europe. But companies have not agreed to remove DEP – the phthalate most commonly used in cosmetics, and one of the phthalates linked to birth defects in the new human baby study. And that’s not all. Two previous studies, conducted by researchers at Harvard University, link DEP to sperm damage in adult human males – at the levels currently found in people.

Product tests conducted by our campaign in 2002 found DEP in 71 percent of personal care products tested – including body lotion, deodorant, hair spray and many fragrances. Recent product tests by the US Food and Drug Administration confirmed that phthalates are present in a high majority of cosmetic products tested – however, FDA will not release information about which phthalates it found in which products.

In the absence of federal legislation, some states are working to protect consumers from phthalates in cosmetics. The California Senate will next week consider legislation to require cosmetics manufacturers to disclose to the state whether they have carcinogens and reproductive toxins in their products. In Massachusetts, a bill that would replace DEHP and other commonly used toxic chemicals with safer alternatives is coming up for public hearing at the end of June, and advocates are urging Gov. Romney to issue an Executive Order to take advantage of existing state authority to regulate phthalates and other chemicals of concern in common consumer products, including cosmetics. Legislation is pending in New York to ban two phthalates from cosmetics.


Founding members of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics include: Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, Breast Cancer Fund, Clean Water Fund, Commonweal, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, National Black Environmental Justice Network, National Environmental Trust and Women's Voices for the Earth.