Unless otherwise noted below, the chemicals on the red list should not be used in personal care products. Some of the chemicals, however, can be used with restrictions. Some are also potential unintentional contaminants of intentionally added ingredients. These contaminants are detailed below, with information about testing recommendations.

 

Benzophenone:

Problem: Benzophenone is persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT).[1],[2]  It is linked to endocrine disruption and organ system toxicity,[3] and listed as a possible human carcinogen by California’s Proposition 65.[4]

Solution: To comply with the red list, manufacturers should not intentionally add benzophenone as an ingredient; we recommend titanium dioxide or iron oxide as mineral-based UV filters in non-inhalable forms.

 

Ethoxylated ingredients, PEGs, -eths, and polysorbates:

Problem: 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide are listed as known or suspected to cause cancer or birth defects by California’s Proposition 65 program.[5]

Solution: Due to contamination concerns for 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide, we strongly encourage companies to avoid these ethoxylated ingredients, PEGs, -eths (such as compounds with steareth, laureth, ceteareth, and ceteth in the name) and polysorbates. If they are used, companies should work with suppliers to avoid and/or strip out 1,4 dioxane and ethylene oxide contamination.

 

Fragrance:

Problem: Fragrance ingredients can include chemicals linked to endocrine disruption, cancer and cell function.[6],[7]  Without full disclosure by fragrance suppliers to manufacturers and from manufacturers to consumers, consumers cannot make informed purchasing decisions.

Solution: Companies should fully disclose fragrance ingredients. “Fragrance,” fragrance/parfum,” “natural fragrance,” or “organic fragrance” should not be listed on labels without identifying constituents.

 

Homosalate, oxybenzone, and octinoxate:

Problem: These are endocrine disruptors, and should be avoided in sunscreens, foundations and other UV-protective products.[8],[9],[10]

Solution: We recommend titanium dioxide or iron oxide as mineral-based UV filters in non-inhalable forms.

 

Polyacrylamide:

Problem: Polyacrylamide contains small amounts of unreacted acrylamide.[11] The International Agency for Research on Cancer lists acrylamide as probably carcinogenic to humans.[12] The National Toxicology Program designates acrylamide as a reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogen.[13]

Solution: We recommend that limits are set for the amount of residual acrylamide allowed in products containing polyacrylamide.

 

Polytetrafluoroethylene and other Perfluorinated compounds:

Problem: Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) has potential contamination concerns with perfluorooctonoic acid (PFOA)[14] which is a possible carcinogen,[15] and associated with reproductive toxicity,[16] endocrine disruption,[17],[18] and environmental bioaccumulation and persistence.[19]

Solution: We recommend that companies using a polytetrafluoroethylene source from suppliers who can certify it is not contaminated by perfluorooctonoic acid or other harmful perfluorinated compounds.

 

Retinyl Palmitate

Problem: Retinyl Palmitate is listed as a developmental toxicant by California’s Proposition 65 program. It may increase skin cancer risk.[20]

Solution: It should not be included in any products.

 

Talc

Problem: The International Agency for Research on Cancer lists talc containing asbestos as carcinogenic to humans while perineal use of talc is classified as possibly carcinogenic.[21],[22]  Inhaling talc adversely affects lungs, and applying talcum powders perennially may be linked to ovarian cancer.

Solution: Companies can use talc, as long as they have a certificate of purity on file verifying it is free of asbestos and asbestiform talc. Talc should not be used in products for peritoneal use in adults, infants or children.

 

Titanium dioxide:

Problem: Titanium dioxide is an effective UV filter in cream- and lotion-based sunscreens, and appears to be safe in creams regardless of particle size. However, when titanium dioxide can be inhaled it is considered a possible carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer[23] and California’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals.[24] Non-nanoized titanium dioxide generally has particle sizes that are too large to inhale, but the verdict is still out on the respirability of TiO2 when nano particles are used in powders.

Solution: It should not be used in powders or sprays, where it could be inhaled and consequently a concern for lung cancer.

 

Tocopherol acetate:

Problem: It may be contaminated with hydroquinone, which is linked to cancer and organ-system toxicity.[25],[26]

Solution: We recommend that companies using tocopherol acetate source from suppliers who can certify it is not contaminated by hydroquinone.

 

Heavy metals

Metals have been linked to reproductive, immune, and nervous system toxicity by NIOSH,[27] OSHA,[28] and California’s Prop 65.[29] They are common contaminants in many natural and synthetic colorants, as well as ingredients mined from the earth.

The links below are lists of colorants from the U.S. government and the European Commission.

Potential Contaminants include:

  • Cadmium: Cadmium is listed as carcinogenic to humans by IARC[30] and the NTP.[31] California’s Proposition 65 lists cadmium as a known carcinogen and reproductive toxicant.[32] We recommend testing finished products with a limit of detection of 2 ppm or better.
  • Chromium: Chromium VI carcinogenic to humans.[33] It is also linked to immune and respiratory toxicity, as well as systemic toxicity.[34] We recommend testing finished products with a limit of detection of 2 ppm or better.
  • Lead: Lead is listed as possibly carcinogenic to humans by IARC.[35]Lead is a well- known and proven neurotoxin that has been linked to learning, language and behavioral problems.[36] We recommend testing finished products with a limit of detection of 2 ppm or better.
  • Mercury: Mercury is linked to nervous system toxicity, as well as reproductive,[37] immune and respiratory toxicity, and is a recognized environmental health concern by numerous national and international government bodies.[38] FDA requires that mercury levels are less than 1 ppm in the finished product. We recommend testing finished products with a limit of detection of .01 ppm.
  • Nickel: Nickel is listed as possibly carcinogenic to humans by IARC,[39] and a reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogen by the NTP.[40] Nickel has also been linked to have estrogenic effects on human breast cancer cells.[41],[42],[43]
  • Antimony: Short-term effects in humans include irritation of the eyes and lungs and can cause heart and lung problems and a variety of other adverse health effects. Animal studies have shown increased incidence of lung cancer in rats that breathed high levels of antimony.[44] We recommend testing finished products with a limit of detection of 5 ppm or better.
  • Arsenic: Arsenic is listed as carcinogenic to humans by IARC[45] and the NTP.[46] We recommend testing finished products with a limit of detection of 1 ppm or better.

Solution: We recommend that companies using colorants source from suppliers who can certify it is not contaminated by heavy metals.

 

Occupational concerns

The ingredients below are not indicated by authoritative bodies as potential concerns for use in products, but they can have adverse effects on the workers who make the products, or on salon workers who use them repeatedly.

 

Ammonium Hydroxide:

Problem: Ammonium Hydroxide is of concern for certain occupations due to increased inhalation risk. It can be corrosive to the eyes, skin, respiratory tract, and on ingestion as well. High concentrations may cause laryngeal oedema, inflammation of the respiratory tract and pneumonia.[47]

Solution: Companies should work with suppliers to ensure worker safety during production.

 

Butoxyethanol:

Problem: Certain occupations are at high risk of butoxyethanol exposure through inhalation, ingestion, and skin contact which can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, nose, and throat.[48] The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) notes it as an occupational concern.[49]

Solution: Companies should work with suppliers to ensure worker safety during production.

 

Butylated hydroxytoluene; BHT

Problem: Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are used as preservatives in a variety of personal care products. The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has determined that there is moderate evidence that BHT is a human respiratory irritant.

Solution: Companies should work with suppliers to ensure worker safety during production.

 

Calcium Hydroxide

Problem: Calcium hydroxide can be absorbed into the body by inhalation of its aerosol and by ingestion. It is an occupational concern due to irritation of the respiratory tract and prolonged exposure may result in dermatitis and respiratory complications.[50]

Solution: Companies should work with suppliers to ensure worker safety during production.

 

Methyl Methacrylate

In the early 1970s, methyl methacrylate was the primary monomer, or molecule, used in acrylic nails.[10] In response to consumer complaints of severe nail and skin reactions, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concluded it was a “poisonous and deleterious substance” and decided to seize and recall nail products containing 100 percent liquid methyl methacrylate in 1974.

Solution: Companies should not use methyl methacrylate (at any concentration) in acrylic nails.

 

Mica

Problem: Workers are at high risk of mica exposure through inhalation, which causes respiratory irritation.[51] Additional adverse reactions include coughing, difficulty with breathing, lung disease, weakness, exhaustion, and weight loss. NIOSH notes it as an occupational concern.[52]

Solution: Companies should work with suppliers to ensure worker safety during production.

 

P-Phenylenediamine

Consumers encounter p-phenylenediamine in many forms of permanent hair dyes called oxidative dyes. As a known skin sensitizer, it leads to allergic reactions. P-phenylenediamine, as well as the products of its reactions with hydrogen, can alter the genetic material of cells. It is of biggest concern for salon workers who encounter it repeatedly.

Solution: Companies should reformulate to avoid the use of p-phenylenediamine in hair dyes.

 

Sodium hydroxide

Problem:  Sodium hydroxide (also known as lye),irritates the mucous membrane, irritates and burns the eyes and skin, may inflame lung walls, and may lead to hair loss. [53],[54] It is an occupational concern due to its caustic nature, but it can be used safely if  workers are protected from unsafe exposures. [55] Its use in soap-making, is acceptable as long as it the lye fully reacted. It is also acceptable as a pH balancer at very low concentrations.

Solution: Companies should work with suppliers to ensure worker safety during production.

 

References

[1] Brooks AC., et al. (2009). Importance of prey and predator feeding behaviors for trophic transfer and secondary poisoning. Environ Sci Technol, vol. 43, no. 20, pp 7916–7923, 2009.

[2] Kim S. & Choi K., Occurrences, toxicities, and ecological risks of benzophenone-3, a common component of organic sunscreen products: A mini-review. Environment International, vol. 70, pp 143-57, 2014.

[3] OEHHA. Proposition 65. CA.gov, 2015. Available online http://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/prop65_list/Newlist.html

[4] California Proposition 65. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, 2015. Available online: http://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/prop65_list/Newlist.html.

[5] Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHAA) (2004). State of California Environmental Protection Agency. Chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. Available at http://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/prop65_list/files/41604list.html. Accessed August 19, 2008.

[6] California Proposition 65. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, 2015. Available online: http://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/prop65_list/Newlist.html.

[7] Breast Cancer Fund, Commonweal, Environmental Working Group. Not So Sexy.  Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, 2010. Available online: http://www.safecosmetics.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Not-So-Sexy-report.pdf.

[8] European Commission. Memorandum on Endocrine Disruptors. Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, 2014. Available online: http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/consumer_safety/docs/sccs_s_009.pdf.

[9] Endocrine Disruption. TedX List of Potential Endocrine Disruptors. Available online: http://endocrinedisruption.org/popup-chemical-details?chemid=186.

[10] Endocrine Disruption. TedX List of Potential Endocrine Disruptors. Available online: http://endocrinedisruption.org/popup-chemical-details?chemid=178.

[11] European Commission (1999). Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products intended for Consumers concerning ACRYLAMIDE RESIDUES IN COSMETICS adopted by the plenary session of the SCCNFP of 30 September 1999. Available online: http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/consumer_safety/opinions/sccnfp_opinions_97_04/sccp_out95_en.htm

[12] IARC: International Agency for Research on Cancer. Monographs. Acrylamide. Available online: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/ClassificationsAlphaOrder.pdf

[13]NTP: National Toxicology Program. Report on Carcinogens, Fourteenth Edition. Acrylamide. Available online: http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/content/profiles/acrylamide.pdf

[14] Van der Putte, I., Murín, M., Van Velthoven, M., & Affourtit, F. (2010). Analysis of the risks arising from the industrial use of perfuorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and ammonium perfluorooctanoate (APFO) and from their use in consumer articles.Delft (NL): RPS Advies

[15] IARC: International Agency for Research on Cancer. Monographs. PFOA. Available online: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/ClassificationsAlphaOrder.pdf

[16] White, S. S., Fenton, S. E., & Hines, E. P. (2011). Endocrine disrupting properties of perfluorooctanoic acid. The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology, 127(1), 16-26.

[17] Guizhen Du, Hongyu Huang, Jialei Hu, Yufeng Qin, Di Wu, Ling Song, Yankai Xia, Xinru Wang Endocrine-related effects of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in zebrafish, H295R steroidogenesis and receptor reporter gene assays. Chemosphere, Volume 91, Issue 8, May 2013, Pages 1099–1106.

[18] Henry ND, Fair PA. J Appl Toxicol. 2013 Apr;33(4):265-72. doi: 10.1002/jat.1736. Epub 2011 Sep 21. Comparison of in vitro cytotoxicity, estrogenicity and anti-estrogenicity of triclosan, perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid.

[19] Lau, C., Anitole, K., Hodes, C., Lai, D., Pfahles-Hutchens, A., & Seed, J. (2007). Perfluoroalkyl acids: a review of monitoring and toxicological findings.Toxicological sciences, 99(2), 366-394

[20] California Proposition 65. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, 2015. Available online: http://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/prop65_list/Newlist.html.

[21] IARC. Agents classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1-112, 2015. Available online: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/ClassificationsAlphaOrder.pdf

[22] International Agency for Research on Cancer. Carbon black, titanium dioxide, talc. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, vol. 93, pp 1-419, 2010. Available online: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol93/mono93.pdf

[23] IARC. Carbon black, titanium dioxide, talc. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, vol. 93, pp 1-419, 2010. Available online: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol93/mono93.pdf

[24] California Proposition 65. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, 2015. Available online: http://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/prop65_list/Newlist.html.

[25] CDC. Hydroquinone. NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, 2015. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0338.html.

[26] IARC. Hydroquinone. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, 1999, vol. 71, supplement 7, pp 691-719. Available online: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol71/mono71-30.pdf.

[27] NIOSH. Reproductive Health and the Workplace, 2015. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/repro/heavymetals.html.

[28] OSHA. Toxic Metals. Occupational Safety & Health, 2015. Available online: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/metalsheavy/index.html.

[29] California Proposition 65. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, 2015. Available online: http://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/prop65_list/Newlist.html.

[30] IARC: International Agency for Research on Cancer. Monographs, Cadmium. Available online: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/ClassificationsAlphaOrder.pdf

[31] NTP: National Toxicology Program. Report on carcinogens, fourteenth edition. Cadmium and Cadmium compounds. Available online: http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/content/profiles/cadmium.pdf

[32] OEHHA: Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. Proposition 65 list of chemicals that are known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. Cadmium. Available online: http://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/chemicals/cadmium

[33] IARC: International Agency for Research on Cancer. Monographs. Chromium. Available online: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/ClassificationsAlphaOrder.pdf

[34] Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) (2012). Toxicological profile for Chromium. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service. Available online: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp7.pdf

[35] IARC: International Agency for Research on Cancer. Monographs. Lead. Available online: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/ClassificationsAlphaOrder.pdf

[36] Needleman, Herbert L.; Schell, Alan; Bellinger, David; Leviton, Alan; Allred, Elizabeth N. (1990). The long-term effects of exposure to low doses of lead in childhood. An 11-year follow-up report. New England Journal of Medicine 322 (2): 83–88

[37] OEHHA: Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. Proposition 65 list of chemicals that are known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. Mercury. Available online: http://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/chemicals/mercury-and-mercury-compounds

[38] Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) (1999). Toxicological profile for mercury. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service. Available online: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp46.pdf

[39] IARC: International Agency for Research on Cancer. Monographs. Nickel. Available online: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/ClassificationsAlphaOrder.pdf

[40] NTP: National Toxicology Program. Report on Carcinogens. Fourteenth Edition. Nickel Compounds and Metallic Nickel. Available online: https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/content/profiles/nickel.pdf

[41] Brama, M., Gnessi, L., Basciani, S., Cerulli, N., Politi, L., Spera, G., … Migilaccio, S. (2007). Cadmium induces mitogenic signaling in breast cancer cell by an Eralpha-dependent mechanism. Mol Cell Endocrinol, 264, 102–108.

[42] Martin, M., Reiter, R., Pham, T., Avellanet, Y., Camara, J., Lahm, M., … Stoica, A. (2003). Estrogen-like activity of metals in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Endocrinology, 144, 2425–2436.

[43] Sukocheva, O., Yang, Y., Gierthy, J., & Seegal, R. (2005). Methyl mercury influences growth-related signaling in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Environ Toxicol, 20, 32–44.

[44] ATSDR: Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. Toxic Substances Portal – Antimony. Available online: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/TF.asp?id=331&tid=58

[45] IARC: International Agency for Research on Cancer. Monographs. Arsenic. Available online: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/ClassificationsAlphaOrder.pdf

[46] NTP: National Toxicology Program. Report on Carcinogens. Fourteenth Edition. Arsenic and Inorganic Arsenic Compounds. Available online: https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/content/profiles/arsenic.pdf

[47] CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NIOSH. Ammonium Hydroxide. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ipcsneng/neng0408.html

[48] CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NIOSH. Butoxyethanol. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0070.html

[49] OSHA: Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Butoxyethanol. Exposure limits and health effects. Available online: https://www.osha.gov/dts/chemicalsampling/data/CH_222400.html

[50] CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NIOSH. Calcium Hydroxide. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ipcsneng/neng0408.html

[51] Skulberg KR, Gylseth B, Skaug V, and Hanoa R. “Mica pneumoconiosis – a literature review.” Scand J Work Environ Health. 1985 Apr;11(2):65-74. Print.

[52] NIOSH. Occupational Health Guideline for Mica. 1978. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/81-123/pdfs/0431.pdf.

[53] CDC. Sodium hydroxide. NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, 2015. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0565.html.

[54] NIOSH/IPCS: International Chemical Safety Cards. Sodium Hydroxide. 2010. Available online: w.cdc.gov/niosh/ipcsneng/neng0360.html.

[55] NIOSH. Occupational Health Guideline for Sodium Hydroxide. 1978. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/81-123/pdfs/0565.pdf.