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For Immediate Release: June 22nd, 2006
Contact:  Marisa Walker or Kevin Donegan, Breast Cancer Fund (415) 346-8223; Stacy Malkan, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (510) 848-5343 x105; Felicia Eaves, Women’s Voices for the Earth (202) 341-9834
(415) 346-8223


New Campaign Exposes Company for Selling Products that Contain Toxic Chemicals to U.S. Women

LOS ANGELES—Don’t hold your breath waiting for nail polishes with names like “I Didn’t Know Carcinogens Came in Coral” and “Formaldehyde Formal.” Although they may as well be sold on the beauty aisle.

Beginning today, a new ad campaign targets OPI Nail Products, Inc., spoofing the brand’s quirky shade names to expose the company’s insistence on using chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects.

The ad features a beauty queen who has just been crowned “Miss Treatment USA,” a play on the fact that OPI sells safer products in Europe but refuses to make them available to U.S. consumers. The ad is running in this week’s LA Weekly and will appear in other publications in the coming weeks.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of health and environmental groups that paid for the ad, met with OPI executives in March and urged the company to replace toxic chemicals in their U.S. products with safer alternatives. OPI executives refused.

“Women shouldn’t have to choose between beauty and health,” said Felicia Eaves, national campaigns organizer of Women’s Voices for the Earth, a founding member of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “Because OPI refuses to offer their U.S. customers safe products, consumers and salon owners must seek out safer alternatives on their own. We are especially concerned about how these chemicals are affecting the health of salon workers, who tend to be primarily women of color.” OPI is found in most nail salons and is the leading professional brand of nail polish.

Many of OPI’s nail polishes contain formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate (DBP); all three chemicals are on California’s Prop. 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. In addition, both toluene and formaldehyde are listed by the U.S. National Toxicology Program as “reasonably anticipated” to be human carcinogens. In 2004, the European Union banned the use of DBP, a chemical linked to birth defects, from cosmetics, forcing OPI and other companies to remove DBP from nail products sold in 25 European countries. No such ban exists in the United States. The FDA does not require that cosmetics products be tested for safety before they are sold.

The new ad encourages consumers to share their concerns about the safety of OPI products with their manicurists, to use safer brands of nail polish and to urge OPI to sign the Compact for Safe Cosmetics by calling the company at 1-800-341-9999. More than 350 other cosmetics and personal care product manufacturers have already signed the Compact, a pledge to replace hazardous ingredients with safer alternatives.

To view the ad visit: http://safecosmetics.org/newsroom/our_ads.cfm

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.

For more information and background on the campaign, see www.SafeCosmetics.org.