Study: Most US cosmetics have indicators of PFAS

Michigan

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (WLNS) – A new study shows more than 50% of cosmetics in the U.S. and Canada are likely to contain toxic chemicals known as PFAS.

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame tested 230 commonly-used cosmetics and found most of them contained high levels of fluorine, which they say is indicative of PFAS. They specifically tested 23 of those cosmetics and found each one contained between 4 and 13 distinct PFAS chemicals.

PFAS are highly stable, which is why they are often used in consumer products like cookware. However, they are also toxic and linked to serious health problems, including cancer and reduced birth weight.

The highest PFAS levels were found in waterproof mascara and long-lasting lipstick. Of the 29 products specifically found to contain PFAS, only one listed them in its ingredients.

The study was released today as part of the announcement of a new bipartisan bill to ban PFAS in beauty products. Congress is also considering broader action to eliminate PFAS in other areas, including on military bases where the chemicals are part of the fire fighting foam used to extinguish burning jet fuel.

There is a long history of cosmetics containing dangerous substances. The deadly nightshade plant got its scientific name, “belladonna,” from the Italian words for “beautiful woman” because it was used to make eyedrops to dilate women’s pupils. A skin whitener sold in the 1500s contained white lead and was reportedly used by Queen Elizabeth I.

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